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Subaru Announces 2019 Ascent Three-Row SUV

We are swimming in mid-sized SUVs. A quick count yields 20 different available models in the U.S. from consumer brands not including soft variations and another 23 mid-sized SUVs from luxury brands. 43 in total. Well... 44 now that we can add the 2019 Subaru Ascent into the pool. If you're asking "What makes this one different?" we're struggling to find the answer. Many SUVs are starting to homogenize to a point where if you took off the badges and let the general populace pick between ten different models you'd get ten different results. However, to be fair to Subaru, the Ascent does have some tricks up its sleeve.

Like an Outback but bigger

Ascents are constructed from Subaru's Global Platform; an underlying framework utilized in fifth generation Imprezas/Crosstreks. Subaru plans to use SGP for the entire Subaru lineup in the future and seeing the size of the Ascent shows the framework is flexible enough to stretch from a compact sedan to a three-row SUV. Its 113.8-inch wheelbase accommodates 153.5 cu-ft of passenger volume -- 2.8-inches longer and 0.6 cu-ft more than the 2017 Honda Pilot -- along with up to 8 or 7 passengers in total. A second row middle seat is included on base models but Premium, Limited, and Touring trims can opt to remove the middle seat at no extra cost. Removing the middle seat replaces the second row with two captain-style chairs instead. With the both rear rows laid flat total cargo volume is 72.6 cu-ft or (as seen in the video above) more than enough space to hold a 70-inch TV horizontal across the deck.

For easier access to the third row, Subaru says they've created wider rear door openings in addition to a steep c-pillar, lower wheel arch, and lower entry point. Thorough soundproofing involving an acoustic windshield and front door glass supposedly reduces cabin noise. Standard exterior parts feature C-shaped LED headlights, roof racks, 18-inch wheels with Falken Ziex all-season tires, and a new twin-scroll turbocharged 2.4-liter boxer-four engine. This engine is direct injected with variable valve control running on a 10.6:1 compression. As a result, total output is 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft with peak torque ranging from 2000 to 4800 rpm.

True outdoor driving and hauling is one of the Ascent's strong points. 8.7-inches of ground clearance is plenty for treks across parks and the 5,000 lb towing capacity is the same as a base Ford F-150. Strong enough to tow itself. Steep hills or low-traction environments are assisted with X-Mode and Hill Descent Control - included with the single-option Lineartronic CVT. And its all-wheel-drive system features brake torque vectoring and trailer stability assist allowing the Ascent to brake individual wheels preventing the trailer from snaking out of control. Subaru claims a 500-mile range on a single tank though we're skeptical about that figure.

Upper-middle class cabin for upper-middle class families

Standard features for the interior include 6.5-inch center touchscreen, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, 4 USB ports, three zone climate control, cabin-view mirror, and 19 cup holders (Yes, 19). Subaru EyeSight technology is a part of all Ascent trims capable of forward automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pre-collision throttle management, and a head-up display showing corresponding safety warnings. Final safety touches involve brake assist (hard braking delivers near-full braking power) and engine power cut-off when brake and throttle are pressed at the same time.

Upgrading to Premium trims adds larger 8-inch center touchscreen, steering responsive headlights, blind-spot detection, lane change assist, full towing capacity, power driver seat, leather steering wheel, and an all-weather package with heated side mirrors, heated front seats, windshield wiper heater, and LTE Wi-Fi connectivity. Upgrading also adds optional GPS navigation,  reverse automatic braking, 20-inch wheels, keyless access with push-button start, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and panoramic moon roof. Limited models add all of the Premium upgrades while including reverse automatic braking, full leather upholstery, steering responsive headlights, high beam assist, second row sun shades, 20-inch wheels with 245/50 section tires, keyless access, power rear tailgate, and 2 more USB ports for 6 total.

Touring trims are top of the line for the Ascent. These have all of the improvements from the previous two trims in addition to ventilated front seats, 120-volt power outlet, side mirror turn signal repeaters, 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, tailgate-mounted rear view camera, 180-degree front camera, and 2 more USB ports for 8 total.

Subaru Ascents will be assembled in Lafayette, Indiana alongside the Subaru Impreza, Legacy, and Outback. 2019 Subaru Ascent models will be available early Summer 2018.

2019 Subaru Ascent Limited

2019 Subaru Ascent Touring