HIGHS Roomy and versatile cottage, the complete roster of features, balanced ride, and handling. LOWS Awkward appearance could be noisy at times; some rivals have a bigger third row. VERDICT A compelling three-row SUV that upholds the Subaru tradition.
Fitted with regular all-wheel drive and eight chairs, the 2020 Subaru Ascent ensures that large families safely reach their destination, regardless of the weather. Each Ascent boasts a flexible cabin with three rows that feels more like a minivan than an SUV.
Subaru also stuffs its primary model with standard driver-assistance technology such as automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assists. Regardless of a horde of aggressive three-row SUVs, the 2020 Ascent stands out because of its satisfying content and Subaru heritage.
What’s New for 2020?
Since the Ascent was all-new for 2019, Subaru makes the mildest of modifications to its largest model for 2020. A newly standard alarm system–known as Rear Seat Reminder–helps to prevent people from leaving items in the back seats by beeping a warning and showing a message on the instrument panel. Beginning with the Premium trim level, every Ascent now features one-touch controllers to turn the interior light on or off. The 2020 Ascent offers a vehicle lock button with its discretionary power-operated rear gate. Also, the top-tier Touring variant receives power-folding exterior mirrors with built-in turn signals.
Pricing and Which to Buy
- Premium: $35,405
- Restricted: $40,355
- Touring: $46,055
Every Ascent features the same engine and transmission that powers the standard all-wheel-drive system, which means available capabilities determine picking which Ascent to buy. While the base version is not entirely stripped of desirable content, it lacks the amenities and alternatives we would suggest.
This makes the next-level Premium variation our favored Ascent, with meaningful upgrades that have standard heated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s chair, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and blind-spot tracking with back cross-traffic alert.
Similarly, the Premium brings more options, such as the 7-Passenger Convenience bundle. We would recommend adding this for its passive entrance with push-button start, power-operated rear gate, rear automated emergency braking, and second-row captain’s chairs.
Subaru Ascent Engine, Transmission, Performance, and Towing
Likes: Standard all-wheel driveway, tows up to 5000 lbs, cushy ride quality. Together with the organization’s trademark all-wheel-drive system, the Ascent is well suited for four-season family road trips.
Even though Subaru’s continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) contributed to some noisy ride during our evaluation, the gearless gearbox was differently receptive and steady.
Its throttle reaction was unusually abrupt at low speeds around town. The Ascent also has paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel for those who want to have more control over the transmission.
The Subaru includes a comfortable ride that isolated us from demanding surfaces. It wore 20-inch wheels but still rode smoothly over bumpy roads and saturated in harsh impacts. Regrettably, we noticed a lot of wind and road noise when cruising on the highway.
While the Subaru lacks the fun-to-drive character found on the Mazda CX-9, the large three-row was nicely written. Its mild and accurate steering reacted too quick maneuvers and felt relaxed at higher speeds. The brake pedal on our test vehicle was firm and innovative, with no drama or touchy feedback.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Still, rivals like the Chevrolet Traverse and the Honda Pilot was shown to be even more efficient despite having lower authorities ratings. We tested the top-of-the-line Ascent Limited on our test course, in which its 26 mpg matched the EPA’s highway score.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Adaptive seating positions, cupholders galore, creative storage tips.
Dislikes: Third row smaller compared to some rivals, only top models have top features, no power-operated folding third row.
The Ascent’s inside has all the hallmarks of a massive crossover, with a raised driving position and flexible seating configurations.
At the same time, the cabin accommodates a bunch, its third-row-passenger space paths more abundant options like the Volkswagen Atlas.
Too bad, only the very best two variations are available with desirable features such as a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, memory driver’s seat, power-adjustable passenger seat, and leather-trimmed upholstery.
The Subaru infotainment system lacks the customization preferences and intuitive controls found on maximal competitors.
Still, it’s features that consumers love, such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G LTE cellular hotspot. The standard touchscreen has large onscreen icons that are easy to view and respond to your inputs quickly.
In contrast, touch-only means that there are more opportunities for driver distraction, the display’s position, and large icons alleviate this matter thoroughly.
The Ascent can pack as many as eight people inside, but our testing only held five carry-on bags behind the third row.
While this was one less than we fit from the Traverse, the Subaru had less interior cubby storage than many rivals. Still, it remains a capable travel companion with a few smart cargo solutions.
Included in these are straps in the cargo space to maintain the load floor in case you want the added room. Our test vehicle had the optional second-row captain’s chairs that use multiple levers for adjustments and will fold nearly flat.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Subaru doesn’t save the best security and driver-assist technologies for the top trims, either. In reality, every Ascent except the base model is available with the majority of upgrades.
Our test vehicle was equipped with optional extras such as automatic high-beams, a blind-spot monitor, and back automatic emergency braking. Key safety features include:
- Conventional forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Conventional lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Guarantee and Maintenance Coverage
Subaru’s warranty coverage is thoroughly average and neglects to offer the complimentary scheduled maintenance that some competitors do.
- The limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 Decades or 60,000 miles
- No free scheduled maintenance