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All-New Subaru Ascent adds 7-seat option to lineup

The biggest news item from Subaru this year was the introduction of the long-awaited Subaru Ascent. Resting atop the new Subaru global platform currently used by Crosstrek and Impreza, the new Ascent will be the first large vehicle to use the new architecture.

At first glance, there’s immediate Subaru signature design cues in both the exterior grille and interior treatments. The biggest thing about the Ascent is it sheer size – it feels odd to see such a large Subaru body. But it is attractive, reflecting subtle sophistication with a capable athletic stance.

North American Popularity

As dedicated as the Subaru loyal seem to be to the booming all-wheel-drive brand, even their enthusiasm waned when it came to the Tribeca, the biggest Subaru of the day, which went away in 2014.

While providing a step-up vehicle for growing families who started with Outbacks and Foresters, the Tribeca SUV never had the sales impact the brand needed from it. Built in Lafayette, IN, the Ascent is exclusive to the North American market, as it offers Subaru’s notable reliability, legendary endurance, eight-passenger capacity, and all-wheel-drive surefootedness.

Three-Row Talk

The big news distinction regarding the Ascent is the potential three-row eight-passenger capacity. Entry and exit from row three, which can be challenging for any SUV design, is notable for its big space, providing simple access via a sliding row two and grab handles for extra ease.

According to Subaru, the grab handles on the row-two seats were inspired by Japan’s famously well-thought-out bullet train interior designs.

Both the Premium and Limited trim levels will offer a choice of cabin configuration for rows two and three. At no additional expense, Ascent owners may pick from a traditional second row bench or captain’s chairs (one provides 7-passenger seating, the other 8).

Performance

Aside from the obvious Impreza performance exceptions, Subaru does not necessarily hang its hat on high-speed performance being a requirement for its vehicles. A new 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four engine will be paired to a CVT transmission. Subaru has had great success with these pairings and the big Ascent should benefit from that success.

Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system is standard equipment, and Subaru owners can relish the ability to stay on the pavement during even the worst weather environments.

Equipment Impressions

Inside, the 2019 Ascent features integration of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, while also delivering a big 8-inch touchscreen as an interface for the latest version of the Starlink infotainment system.

From a safety standpoint, Subaru gets high marks and the EyeSight active safety suite, which includes adaptive cruise control, an automatic braking system, lane keeping assist, high beam assist, and sway warning, will be at the center of the protective equipment.

Competitive Pricing

Starting out with a base price just over $30,000, buyers can outfit their Ascents with Subaru-type option packages. When you look at the others in the segment – as well as recognizing Subaru’s success in right-pricing all their vehicles with regard to competitors’ pricing – expect to see an Ascent that has extended residual value over the long haul.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication