2019 Subaru Ascent: A family cruiser worthy of the Subaru brand [First Look]

2019 Subaru Ascent (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

Though Subaru sales seem to be going through the roof lately, the automaker realized it was missing a key demographic when it came to vehicle sales: people between the ages of 35 and 54.

You know, the years someone might be raising a growing family.

Subaru gets cult-like loyalty from its owners who are young and single or empty nesters. But those couple decades, which require extra seats for carpool and cargo space for sports gear, found owners defecting to brands that offered 7- and 8-passenger vehicles.

It’s not that Subaru didn’t try to tap this market previously, but the brand miscalculated on style, ride and handling with the defunct B9 Tribeca.

A mistake the automaker corrects with the all-new 2019 Ascent.

The styling purposefully and strongly resembles the other vehicles in its lineup with the bold grille and nicely sculpted lines on the hood and surrounding the wheel wells.

But what really makes this a vehicle families will want is it’s well equipped – even at a base level.

Starting price for the Ascent is $31,995, and standard features include all-wheel drive, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, the EyeSight safety system, four USB ports and a whopping 19 cup holders.

Oh, and it can fit three car seats across the middle row when equipped with the bench seats. There are very few other large SUVs that can do this.

Want more features? Level up for less than $3K and add things such as heated front seats, available captains chairs in the middle row (for a $0 add), rear climate control and a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot for up to 8 devices.

Ascent only has four available trims for the 2019 model year, so adding features in increments is easy, and the price difference between the base and top-tier trims is around $13K. The exact trim pricing is:

  • Ascent: $31,995
  • Ascent Premium: $34,195
  • Ascent Limited: $38,995
  • Ascent Touring: $44,695

The base two models come with spill-resistant cloth seating surfaces and weird etched plastic accents on the dash and doors. Limited and Touring add leather seats and replace the plastic accents with leather ones.

Other available features include heated middle row seats, power rear liftgate, passive entry, push-button start, navigation, premium audio, a panoramic moonroof and a 180-degree front camera.

A key must-have for active families includes high-level safety.

And that’s why Subaru made EyeSight standard on the Ascent. Of the competitive set, only the Toyota Highlander has a similarly standard system that includes things such as emergency front braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.

Other available safety features starting at the Premium trim include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic reverse braking.

One interesting thing to note is the Ascent has just one engine choice: a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged Boxer engine. Most of the competitive set are equipped with V-6s.

So with 260 horsepower, this is about 20 horsepower less than most of the base engines available to competitors. But what the engine lacks in horsepower it gains in torque. Looking again at base engines, the Ascent has an average of about 20 more pound-feet of torque than its competitors.