Los Angeles, CA – Subaru added to its vehicle roster with the debut of the seven-seat (or eight-seat), three-row 2019 Ascent SUV, at a media event on the eve of the 2017 Los Angeles Show.
With Subaru sales up 9.2% through October 2017, the Japanese brand believes the Ascent puts it in a great position to gain market share in an industry that's thriving on an SUV sales boom.
“With Ascent, we finally produced what has been missing from the lineup and for the North American family,” said Takeshi Tachimori, Executive Vice President and Director of Subaru Corporation.
Exclusive to North America
Everything about the Ascent has been geared for the North American market, as it will be exclusive to this region and will be built in the U.S.A. The key piece is its third-row seating, a feature that Subaru hasn't had since the discontinuation of the Tribeca.
Passengers can easily enter and exit through a wide door opening, low step-in, and bullet train-inspired assist grab handles. In addition, the second row slides and tilts in such an easy manner that children can independently perform the function, and multiple child seats can be inserted and left in the vehicle.
That second row is where consumers will have to make a choice between seven or eight seats. Both can be configured depending on trim line selection, which defines the choice of either bench seating for three or two captain chairs.
Another seating choice can be made between a brand-new spill repellant premium cloth or leather. Regardless of the choices made, each row will have plenty of connectivity with two 12-Volt outlets, eight USB ports and 19 cupholders, plus Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities.
According to Subaru, some tough lessons were learned with the diminutive Tribeca. The Ascent, built off Subaru's new global platform, previously used by the Impreza sedan and Crosstrek crossover, takes on a much greater stature but it is made lighter with ample use of high-strength steel.
While the Ascent may not be tops among its competition in any particular measurement, it is at or near the head of the list in length, width and wheelbase. For cargo space behind the second and third row, it beats most of the segment with 1,252 and 555 litres of cargo capacity, respectively. Behind the first row, with the other seats down, the Ascent frees up 2,061 litres of space.
From the exterior, the Ascent isn't as chiseled as the Viziz-7 concept version, first shown at this same show last year, but what production car really is? It takes on many design similarities with the Outback, Impreza and Crosstrek, mostly notable its signature hexagonal grille and eagle-eye headlights.
Its sloping roofline and character body lines add a little edge, but the overall look comes off more on the conservative side; not a bad thing, given the polarizing nature of vehicles like the Lexus RX.
Powering the Ascent is a new turbocharged, 2.4-litre flat-four engine that produces 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, matched to an upgraded high-torque continuously variable transmission (CVT) that features an eight-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters. As with almost every Subaru, this mid-size SUV comes standard with the brand’s full-time, symmetrical all-wheel drive, a perk that will come in handy for those snowy Canadian winters.
Another standard feature is X-Mode with Hill Descent Control that assists with throttle mitigation and four-wheel stability. And when you need to tow, the Ascent can haul up to 2,268 kg, (5,000 lb), the most ever by a Subaru, and it is aided by a trailer stability assist technology.
The 2019 Ascent mid-size SUV allows Subaru to show off a full roster of SUVs, something it's been lacking until now. Look for it to become available starting early summer 2018.
Canadian pricing will be announced by the end of 2017, but if you want to start the guessing game, the U.S. Ascent will begin in the low USD$30,000s.