- Standard AWD
- IIHS Top Safety Pick+
- Excellent standard tech features
- Only one engine choice
- Tight third row
- Refreshed styling
- Enhanced safety features
- Updated multimedia
The Subaru Ascent is a 3-row family SUV with an impressive list of standard features, excellent safety ratings, and standard all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $33,895.
The Subaru Ascent takes the unique character of the Subaru
brand and delivers it in the form of a practical, family-friendly midsize SUV. It has 3-row seating for up to eight people, and every trim comes standard with all-wheel drive. The Ascent gets a nice mid-cycle refresh for 2023 with updated styling, upgrades to safety and infotainment tech features, and some clever new options like the Cabin Connect intercom system. Some of the most appealing rivals to the Ascent include the Kia
Telluride, Chevrolet Traverse, and Mazda CX-9 (which also benefits from standard AWD).
2023 Subaru Ascent pricing
The 2023 Subaru Ascent starts at $33,895, so it continues as a value-conscious choice in its segment. The top Touring trim is $48,195. There are several Ascent trim levels between those two, most priced in the high $30s to low $40s. The destination fee is $1,225.
The Ascent is on the more affordable side of midsize 3-row SUVs. Similarly priced competitors include the Chevrolet Traverse, Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, and Hyundai Palisade. Some more expensive rivals include the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Mazda
CX-9, and Toyota Highlander.
Driving the 2023 Subaru Ascent
The Subaru Ascent delivers a comfortable and agreeable driving experience. The ride is smooth, the cabin is reasonably quiet, and the seats are comfortable. The handling isn’t particularly agile, but that’s forgivable in a family SUV.
The Ascent doesn’t skip a beat if the roads get ugly. The standard all-wheel drive, generous ground clearance, and X-Mode with hill-descent control make it great in the snow and mild off-roading. Comparable SUVs in this class with a modicum of off-road chops would be the Nissan Pathfinder and Jeep Grand Cherokee L when equipped with AWD.
The only engine choice in the Ascent gets the job done, but it doesn’t excel in any particular category. The performance and fuel economy are adequate, but some rivals are more sporty (Ford
Explorer ST), and some are more efficient (Toyota
The interior of the Subaru Ascent has three rows of seats with room for up to eight people. The first two rows are spacious and comfortable, but the third row is only suitable for children. Available second-row captain’s chairs reduce the seating capacity to seven but improve comfort in the second row and make the third row easier to access.
The interior design is pleasant, and the seat comfort is suitable for long-distance road trips. The centerpiece of the interior is the standard tablet-like infotainment screen loaded with features like wireless Android Auto and Apple
CarPlay. The interior gets nicer as you work your way up the model range with water-repellant StarTex seats in the Onyx Edition and perforated leather seats in the top Touring trim.
The cargo area in the Ascent is one of the biggest in this class. With all the seats in place, it has 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. Fold down the third row, and you get 47.5 cubic feet of space, and if you can afford to fold down all of the back seats, you get a cavernous 86.5 cubic feet of space.
The Subaru Ascent has updated styling for 2023. It has a sharp new look with a handsome new LED light signature. It has a bold look that hints at its adventurous capabilities when the pavement ends.
Depending on the trim, the look changes a bit, and we’re partial to the Onyx Edition. It has a unique appearance package with black-finish exterior accents and 20-inch black-finish aluminum-alloy wheels.
The size of the Subaru Ascent is in line with the midsize 3-row SUV class. Its dimensions resemble the Toyota Highlander, Honda
Pilot, and Kia Telluride. The Ascent is the biggest SUV in the Subaru lineup.
The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and X-Mode with hill-descent control come standard on every trim of the Ascent, making it a component off-roader for a 3-row family SUV.
Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
This handy feature brings your maps, music, and more to the screen in your SUV without taking your phone out of your purse or pocket. We love to see it as a standard feature on the Ascent.
Subaru’s extensive suite of driver-assist and safety technologies helps keep you and yours safe.
The Featuring large icons, intuitive controls, physical knobs for volume and tuning, and toggle switches for temperature control, this center-mounted touchscreen puts the driver in control.
The Standard on Premium and higher trims, it includes heated front seats, heated outboard mirrors, and heating elements at the base of the windshield to help prevent ice buildup on the wiper blades.
Available Harman Kardon audio
Designed for the audiophile, this audio upgrade includes 13 speakers plus a subwoofer and 792 watts of power.
The generous list of standard features is one of the highlights of the Subaru Ascent. For starters, the standard powertrain is a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive.
Other standard features include X-Mode with hill-descent control, LED headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, a multi-function display, front and rear USB-A and USB-C ports, raised roof rails, a backup camera with a washer, and a whopping 19 cupholders.
The standard Starlink infotainment system is a tablet-style 11.6-inch screen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The standard EyeSight safety tech suite bundles an electric brake booster, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assist with lane centering, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a rear-seat reminder.
Upgrading to the Premium trim adds some excellent features to the Ascent while keeping the pricing modest. It adds blind-spot monitoring with lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, tinted rear windows, a power driver’s seat, second-row climate controls, and heated front seats.
An available option package for the Premium trim adds push-button start, a power liftgate, an auto-dimming mirror with a universal garage door opener, and reverse automatic braking. Second-row captain’s chairs are a no-cost option.
The Onyx Edition is similar to the 7-seat Premium model with the option package, plus a unique appearance package with dark accents, StarTex water-repellent seats, and a panoramic moonroof. A new option package for the Onyx Edition adds navigation, Harman Kardon premium audio, a memory driver’s seat, rear sunshades, and the new Cabin Connect intercom system.
The premium features of the Onyx Edition carry over to the Limited trim, minus the unique appearance package. The Limited model also has leather seating, LED fog lights, and tasteful chrome trim.
Finally, the luxurious Touring model has a unique appearance with a high-gloss black grille, woodgrain interior trim, perforated leather seats in your choice of Slate Black or Java Brown, ventilated front seats, navigation, Harman Kardon audio, a moonroof, Cabin Connect, rain-sensing wipers, a surround-view monitor system, and a rear camera mirror.
You might like: Check out the all-new, roomy Lexus TX 3-row SUV
Engine and transmission
There’s only one engine available under the hood of the Subaru Ascent. It’s a 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-4 mated to a CVT automatic transmission. It has a pretty good balance of power and efficiency, but we’d like to see more mechanical variety.
Like all Subaru SUVs, all-wheel drive is standard on every trim.
When properly equipped, the Subaru Ascent can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
2.4-liter turbocharged flat-4
260 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
277 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 mpg, 20/26 mpg (Onyx/Limited/Touring)
KBB’s car review methodology.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.