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Is The Subaru Ascent a Good Car?

Is The Subaru Ascent a Good Car?

The Subaru Ascent burst onto the scene in 2019 as the brand’s first-ever 3-row midsize SUV. Slotting above the compact Forester and Outback models, the Ascent fills a crucial gap in Subaru’s lineup for growing Canadian families in need of extra passenger and cargo space.


Under the hood lies a potent 2.4L turbocharged BOXER 4-cylinder engine pumping out a robust 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. This allows the Ascent to tow up to 5,000 lbs when properly equipped. Subaru’s signature Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system comes standard across all trims.


At 196.8 inches long, the Ascent has one of the most spacious and versatile cabins in its class. There’s ample room for up to 8 passengers (with second-row captain’s chairs) or 7 with the second-row bench seat. Even with all seats occupied, you still get 498L of cargo volume behind the third row.


The 2023 Ascent is available in 5 well-equipped trims for Canadian buyers: Convenience ($39,995), Touring ($43,995), Onyx Edition ($45,595), Limited ($48,095), and Premier ($51,495). All models come loaded with advanced safety tech like EyeSight Driver Assist and LED steering responsive headlights.


Despite being a relative newcomer, the Ascent is already a hit with Canadian families. Subaru has exceeded its sales targets of 60,000 units annually in most years since launch. In 2022, the Ascent was Subaru’s 3rd best-selling model in Canada after the Crosstrek and Outback.

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Reliability and Ownership Experience

When it comes to reliability, the Subaru Ascent has a solid track record so far. J.D. Power gives the 2024 model a predicted reliability score of 82 out of 100, which falls into their “Great” category. This bodes well for Canadian families seeking a dependable three-row SUV that won’t be plagued by constant repair issues.

However, no vehicle is perfect, and some Ascent owners have reported a few common problems. One of the most widespread issues involves failures of the Denso fuel pump, which can cause stalling or non-start conditions. There have also been complaints about parasitic battery drain from the vehicle’s CAN system, cracked windshields, and problems with the EyeSight driver assist technology.

Despite these potential hiccups, the Ascent is expected to provide Canadian families with many years of faithful service. With proper maintenance and care, this Subaru SUV should achieve a lifespan of 200,000 to 250,000 miles or 13 to 17 years based on 15,000 miles driven annually. Its durable boxer engine and proven all-wheel drive system contribute to the Ascent’s longevity.

 

Safety and Crash Test Results

When it comes to protecting your family on the road, the Subaru Ascent delivers impressive safety credentials. This three-row SUV has earned top marks from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In IIHS testing, the 2023 Ascent received the highest possible rating of “Top Safety Pick+” by earning “Good” scores across all six crashworthiness tests, including the challenging small overlap front crash test. The Ascent’s standard EyeSight driver assist technology, which includes automatic emergency braking, also achieved the highest possible “Superior” rating for front crash prevention.

Over at NHTSA, the Ascent was awarded a perfect 5-star overall safety rating. It scored 5 stars in the frontal crash and side crash tests, as well as 4 stars in the rollover evaluation. These exemplary ratings showcase the Ascent’s robust construction and occupant protection.

Contributing to the Ascent’s safety prowess is the wide availability of advanced driver assistance features across trim levels. The EyeSight suite, bundling technologies like pre-collision braking, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control, comes standard on all Ascent models. Meanwhile, upper trims like the Premier add even more safety tech including a front view camera, blind spot monitoring, and rear automatic emergency braking.

For families hauling precious child cargo, the Ascent provides great flexibility with its three rows of seating. The IIHS awarded it the highest “Good+” rating for its LATCH child seat anchors, citing generous space in both the second and third rows. With room for up to 8 occupants, the Ascent gives parents ample options for securely installing multiple child seats.

 

Performance, Ride Comfort and Interior Space

Under the hood of the Subaru Ascent is a 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine that produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain provides adequate acceleration for a family hauler of this size, with a 0-60 mph time of around 6.5 seconds according to independent tests. While not blistering quick, the Ascent has enough grunt to merge onto highways and pass slower traffic confidently.

When it comes to towing capability, the Ascent shines with a maximum tow rating of 5,000 lbs across all trims when properly equipped. This allows Ascent owners to pull small boats, camping trailers, or hauling equipment with ease. The standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system also enhances traction when towing or driving in slippery conditions.

One area where the Ascent’s performance could be improved is engine noise. The turbocharged boxer four-cylinder can sound gruff and strained when pushed hard, such as during hard acceleration or towing near its limits. Cabin noise levels are otherwise well-controlled at highway speeds, making for a relatively serene driving experience on the open road.

 

Ride Comfort and Interior Space

Despite its substantial size, the Subaru Ascent delivers a remarkably smooth and comfortable ride, making it an ideal family hauler for Canadian roads. The suspension does an excellent job of absorbing bumps and imperfections, providing a composed driving experience even over rougher surfaces.

Where the Ascent truly shines is its interior spaciousness. With three rows of seating, it can accommodate up to eight passengers with ease. Even adults can comfortably occupy the third row without feeling cramped, a rarity in this segment. The second-row captain’s chairs offer ample legroom and slide forward to improve third-row access.

Cargo capacity is another strong suit of the Ascent. Behind the third row, there’s a generous 498 litres of space, perfect for stowing luggage or grocery hauls. Fold down the rear seats, and you’re treated to a cavernous 2,115 litres of cargo volume, rivaling many full-size SUVs. This versatility makes the Ascent an excellent companion for road trips, camping adventures, or hauling bulky items.

The interior itself is well-designed and thoughtfully laid out, with plenty of clever storage cubbies and cup holders throughout. The driving position is comfortable and offers good outward visibility, while the high-quality materials and soft-touch surfaces contribute to an upscale ambiance.

 

Fuel Economy

When it comes to fuel efficiency, the Subaru Ascent delivers respectable but not exceptional numbers for its size. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the 2023 Ascent is rated at 12.3 L/100 km in the city, 9.4 L/100 km on the highway, and 11.0 L/100 km combined when equipped with the standard 2.4L turbocharged boxer engine and Lineartronic CVT transmission.

While these official ratings are decent for a three-row mid-size SUV, real-world mileage reported by owners often differs. Many Ascent owners have reported getting lower fuel economy than the NRCan estimates, especially for city driving. The turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive system, and curb weight over 2,000 kg all contribute to the Ascent’s thirst for fuel.

Driving habits and conditions play a major role, but most owners average between 11-13 L/100 km in mixed driving according to forums and owner reviews. The Ascent’s fuel economy is on par with rivals like the Ford Explorer and Volkswagen Atlas but lags behind segment leaders like the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade which can achieve up to 10% better mileage.

It’s worth noting the Ascent doesn’t offer a more fuel-efficient engine option or hybrid variant unlike some competitors. So if maximizing fuel economy is a top priority, the Ascent may not be an ideal choice unless Subaru introduces electrified powertrains in the future.

 

Trim Level Guide for Canadians

With four well-equipped trim levels, the Subaru Ascent offers something for every Canadian family’s needs and budget. Here’s a closer look at what each trim brings to the table:

 

Convenience ($38,995)

As the base model, the Convenience packs a ton of value. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, EyeSight driver assist tech, LED steering responsive headlights, 3-zone automatic climate control, and a 6.5-inch multimedia touchscreen. For families on a budget, this is an exceptional starting point.

 

Touring ($42,295)

A step up is the Touring trim, which adds 20-inch alloy wheels, rear climate controls, an 8-inch touchscreen with STARLINK, heated front seats, and a power driver’s seat. The Touring hits a sweet spot for amenities and value.

 

Limited ($46,995)

The Limited opens up a world of luxury with Nappa leather seats (heated in front and second row), a heated steering wheel, panoramic moonroof, and upgraded 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio. Families who want to spoil themselves will love this mid-range trim.

 

Premier ($51,495)

The range-topping Premier is where the Ascent goes all-out on premium amenities. It gets unique Java Brown leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a 180-degree front camera, and a Smart Rear-View Mirror. The Premier elevates the Ascent into a true luxury family hauler.

 

The Final Verdict: Are Subaru Ascents Good Cars for Canadian Families?

The Subaru Ascent has a lot going for it as a compelling choice for Canadian families seeking a roomy, safe, and capable 3-row SUV. Its strengths lie in its impressive safety credentials, spacious and versatile interior, standard AWD traction, and competitive pricing across trims.

From a safety standpoint, the Ascent delivers top IIHS and NHTSA ratings along with Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology standard on most models. Its cabin offers ample room for up to 8 passengers and a generous cargo area. The standard Symmetrical AWD system provides surefooted traction in slippery conditions. And with a starting MSRP under $38,000, the Ascent represents solid value, undercutting rivals like the Volkswagen Atlas and Honda Pilot.

However, the Ascent does have some shortcomings that buyers should consider. Its 2.4L turbocharged engine, while capable, can sound gruff and strained when pushed. Fuel economy is just average for the segment. And some owners have reported issues with components like fuel pumps and windshields.

For families prioritizing interior space, versatility, and all-weather capability above all else, the Subaru Ascent makes an excellent choice. But those seeking a more refined driving experience or superior fuel efficiency may want to cross-shop the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, or Mazda CX-9. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is also worth a look for its superior mpg.

Overall, the 2023 Subaru Ascent represents a well-rounded package for Canadian SUV buyers. It delivers on the key requirements of a family hauler without breaking the bank. Just be aware of its flaws and make sure the pros align with your needs and priorities.

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Questions About The Subaru Ascent

The Subaru Ascent is an excellent 3-row SUV for Canadian families. It has standard all-wheel drive, ample cargo space, good fuel economy, and a suite of advanced safety tech. The Ascent performs well in crash tests and has superb traction on snow and ice. Owners report that it’s comfortable, spacious, and reliable for daily family use.

Some potential issues with the Subaru Ascent in Canada include cracked windshields, faulty fuel pumps, battery drain from the CAN bus system, and problems with the EyeSight driver assist system. However, when looking at reliability scores, most Ascents should be dependable with regular maintenance.

With standard symmetrical all-wheel drive, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and dedicated winter driving modes, the Ascent handles Canadian winters extremely well. Owners in snowy provinces praise its stability, grip, and control in icy, slushy conditions. The all-weather package adds heated rear seats and mirrors for additional comfort.

In Canada, the Subaru Ascent should last approximately 200,000 to 250,000 kilometres if properly maintained – translating to about 13-17 years of average driving. Factors like road salt, climate extremes, and towing can impact longevity. Following maintenance schedules is key.

Behind the 3rd row, the Subaru Ascent has 17.8 cubic feet of cargo volume. With all rear seats folded, max cargo capacity is 86 cubic feet. There’s also underfloor storage in the back for added utility. This makes the Ascent very practical for Canadian families needing room for gear.

The 2024 Subaru Ascent gets an Estimated 12.3L/100km city, 9.4L/100km highway and 11L/100km combined. These numbers are comparable to other midsize 3-row SUVs. Fuel economy will dip slightly when configured for towing.

Test drivers praise the Ascent’s smooth ride quality and responsive handling on Canadian roads. It feels planted and secure around turns without too much body lean. The steering could use a bit more feedback but provides decent control. Overall, it strikes a nice balance of stability, comfort and maneuverability.

The 2023 Subaru Ascent earned top scores in all IIHS crashworthiness tests, plus high ratings for collision prevention, headlights, LATCH anchors, and child seat accommodation. The NHTSA gave it 5 stars overall – its highest rating. Safety is a clear priority.

Some top-rated winter tire options for the Subaru Ascent in Canada include the Michelin X-Ice Snow, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV, and the Continental VikingContact 7. These provide exceptional snow and ice traction at cold temperatures.

The Ascent Onyx Edition has the most well-rounded feature set for Canada. It adds dual-function X-Mode, all-weather package, heated rear seats, water-repellent StarTex upholstery, 8-way power driver’s seat, and auto-dimming mirrors. It keeps capability high without the Premier’s price tag.

All Subaru Ascent models come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Connect your phone via USB to access apps, maps, music and messages through the touchscreen interface. Voice commands offer added convenience.

There are some mild noise complaints about the Ascent’s 4-cylinder turbo engine under heavy acceleration. However, at cruising speeds the cabin is praised for being quiet, with minimal wind or road noise. The smooth CVT adds to its hushed highway manners.



Subaru has a reputation for reliability in Canada, and the Ascent follows suit. Predicted reliability scores rate it at 82 out of 100 – squarely average for the class. Most owners report dependable real-world performance across multiple Canadian provinces.

Yes, ventilated front seats come standard on Subaru Ascent Limited and Premier trims in Canada. With heating and cooling functions, these perforated leather seats provide more comfort in hot and cold temperatures. Unfortunately ventilated seats are not available on lower Convenience and Touring trims.

Subaru Canada provides a 3-year/60,000-kilometre bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/100,000-kilometre powertrain warranty. Extended coverage can be purchased through an added Subaru Gold Plus plan for extra peace of mind.

Yes, the available panoramic power moonroof provides excellent outward visibility. Stretching from front to back seats, it gives the Subaru Ascent’s cabin an enhanced sense of spaciousness. The power sunshade can block out light when desired.

With its turbocharged 260 horsepower engine, the Ascent can tow up to 2,270 kilograms or 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. This allows it to handle campers, trailers, or boats for weekend Canadian adventures. An integrated trailer harness makes hookups easy.

The Ascent quickly became one of Subaru Canada’s most popular vehicles after launching in 2019. Sales have risen steadily year-over-year, surpassing established models like the Forester and Outback. Through Q3 2022, Ascent sales are up an impressive 40% over 2021.

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