More of What Makes a Subaru a Subaru: The 2019 Subaru Ascent Limited

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Subaru Ascent
The 2019 Subaru Ascent.
Imagine being Subaru.  You pretty much started the whole smaller SUV game 40 years ago with a series of useful full-time four-wheel drive vehicles.  The problem is you've never been able to play above the midsize.  Your attempt at a larger SUV, the 2006-2014 B9 Tribeca, didn't cut it.   Not quite large enough and cursed at birth with a goofy design that took Subaru's march to a different drummer too far.

No, what you need is a bigger version of what you currently deliver in three smaller sizes, the Crosstrek, the Forester and the Outback.  And that's the 2019 Subaru Ascent.

Rear 3/4 view of 2019 Subaru Ascent
2019 Subaru Ascent.
The Ascent is an eight-passenger SUV, putting Subaru in the sweet spot for growing families, up against competition like the Honda PilotToyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia SorentoFord Explorer and Chevy Traverse.

That is one seriously crowded field.  But the Ascent, despite being late to the party, brings the goods.

Our tester was the 2019 Subaru Ascent Limited.  Base price $38,995.  For that, you get a 2.4-liter horizontally opposed turbo four-cylinder making 260 horsepower, mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with an eight-speed manual mode.  The EPA estimates that combination will deliver 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway.  Our experience says that's realistic.  Factor in the Ascent's large for the segment 19.3 gallon gas tank and there's 501.8 miles worth of highway range (though we'd advise you do like we do and never let the tank go below a quarter full).  The Ascent also boasts 5,000 pounds towing capacity---the most of any Subaru ever made.

Also standard: Symmetrical all-wheel drive, Subaru's EyeSight driver assist system, X-mode with hill descent control, a rear-vision camera, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, active torque vectoring, adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist, trailer stability assist, tire pressure monitoring, power windows and mirrors, a remote keyless entry system, roof rails, steering wheel controls with audio, voice, cruise and Bluetooth controls, a three-zone climate control system, welcome lighting, 60/40 split second and third row seating,four USB ports and 19 (yes, nineteen) cup and bottle holders.

That's just what's standard on every Ascent.  Choosing the Limited adds 10-way power driver's seat with two-position memory, a four-way power front passenger seat, 20-inch alloy wheels in dark gray with machine finish, heated exterior mirrors, heated front and second-row seats, heated steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer, auto-dimming rear view mirror with compass and HomeLink built in, blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, dark tint privacy glass, high beam assist, keyless access with pushbutton start, LED low and high beam with automatic height adjustment, LED fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter handle, perforated leather-trimmed upholstery, power rear gate with automatic close and height memory, rear door window sunshades, rear seat automatic climate control panel, reverse automatic braking and steering responsive headlights.

All that---standard---for $38,995.

Interior view of 2019 Subaru Ascent Limited
2019 Subaru Ascent Limited interior.
That's a complete enough vehicle that our tester had only one option package, which bundled navigation, an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Subaru's Starlink cloud app suite, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Traffic and Travel Link, a CD player (increasingly rare), voice-activated controls for phone and text, voice-activated nav, a 14-speaker premium Harmon Kardon audio system, a panoramic power moonroof and a cargo area cover for $2,950.

With $975 destination and delivery charge, the total rings in at $42,920.  Right in the ballpark for this class of vehicle and packing more in the way of features than you usually find for much under $50K.

The Ascent is a natural for the Subaru owners who want to move up, and until now, have had to move out of the brand.  But it's good enough that it's very likely to win over people who've never owned a Subaru before.