2023 Subaru Ascent

2023 Subaru Ascent
2023 Subaru Ascent Driving Back View
2023 Subaru Ascent Dashboard

2023 Subaru Ascent Review: More Appealing Than Ever

by Martin Pretorius

Competing in the crowded midsize SUV market segment, the Subaru Ascent is one of the more-appealing choices among its peers. It's very car-like to drive but still has reasonable off-road capabilities, and Subaru's reputation for reliability and safety means that the Ascent is particularly enticing to family-oriented buyers. Only one powertrain is offered in the Ascent, but it's one of the best in Subaru's current arsenal. The 2.4-liter turbocharged flat four-cylinder engine sends 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels through a CVT, as is Subaru's custom, but that healthy torque output at least mitigates some of the CVT's downsides.

This market segment is awash with compelling alternatives, with notable competitors to the Subaru Ascent including the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, along with the Volkswagen Atlas and Honda Pilot. That's an impressive list of challengers, and the Subaru's appeal in the face of such alternatives is indicative of the completeness of the package on offer with the Ascent.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 7 /10
  • Performance 8 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
What is BuzzScore?

2023 Subaru Ascent Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2022 Ascent?

After four years on the market and with only minor updates during that time, the Subaru Ascent gets its first major update for 2023. This three-row midsize SUV has proven to be popular, but it was beginning to lag behind its opponents in infotainment, safety features, and standard equipment, and its appearance was getting a bit stale, too. This has all been addressed with this facelift, and should ensure continued popularity for Subaru's largest vehicle.

New for the 2023 Subaru Ascent is revised styling for its front- and rear ends, an improved infotainment system with a new portrait-oriented 11.6-inch diagonal color touchscreen, enhanced forward-collision braking assistance thanks to improved sensors and cameras, and an available 360-degree camera system. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard. The front-end restyle is particularly notable, because the 2023 Ascent takes on an appearance closer to that of the recently-revised Forester, with more-angular headlights and a larger grille, instead of the "larger Outback" appearance it sported up till now.

The Subaru Onyx Edition Limited is also new and is packed with features, including a surround-view monitor, standard navigation, heated second-row seats, and more.

Pros and Cons

  • Very comfortable ride quality
  • Well-made interior with high-quality materials
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Excellent standard safety specifications
  • Turbocharged engine gives decent performance
  • Powertrain is noisy when worked hard
  • Cramped third-row seating space
  • Only one engine available

What's the Price of the 2023 Subaru Ascent?

The Base Subaru Ascent has an MSRP of $33,895, rising to $36,495 for the eight-seater Premium trim. The seven-seater Premium costs $37,995, but includes the Convenience Package as standard to justify its higher price.

In Onyx Edition trim, the Subaru Ascent carries an MSRP of $41,295, while the Onyx Edition Limited costs $46,295 on account of its extra luxury features. Both seven- and eight-seater Ascent Limited trims have the same MSRP of $41,595, and the range-topping Ascent Touring has an MSRP of $48,195.

These prices exclude dealership markups and destination charges. The latter amounts to $1,225 for all Subaru Ascent models.

Best Deals on 2023 Subaru Ascent

2023 Subaru Ascent Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.4L Turbo Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
2.4L Turbo Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
Onyx Edition
2.4L Turbo Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
2.4L Turbo Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
Onyx Edition Limited
2.4L Turbo Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2023 Subaru Ascent Trims and Specs

2023 Subaru Ascent Handling and Driving Impressions

The Subaru Ascent's handling is exactly as you'd expect from any SUV with a bias towards ride comfort, with plenty of body roll and comparatively low grip levels. It's not a very engaging driving experience, with numb albeit accurate steering and safe understeer as the grip limits are approached. However, that is par for the course in this segment, and, as we've said in our previous Subaru Ascent review, the remarkably comfortable ride more than compensates for the decidedly unsporting driving dynamics.

Performance is quite brisk, however. The 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four engine may not be the quietest or smoothest power unit out there, but it does perform surprisingly well despite the Ascent's hefty curb weight. 260 hp isn't earth-shattering, especially not for such a comparatively large engine, but the 277 lb-ft of torque comes on early and stays for a while. The result is a 0-60 mph dash in around 6.7 seconds, along with enough reserve torque to overtake with ease. It's not the fastest thing out there, but the Ascent's balance of performance and ease of driving is as close to ideal as you're likely to find in its segment.

Verdict: Is The 2023 Subaru Ascent A Good SUV?

Given the requirements of a family-oriented, go-almost-anywhere SUV, the 2023 Subaru Ascent is very accomplished, and is one of the best-balanced options in its class. It is very capable in poor road conditions, has excellent safety credentials and adequate performance, a very good ride quality, and lots of comfort and convenience features as standard. Apart from its somewhat soggy driving dynamics and cramped third-row seating, the Ascent is quite difficult to fault, and the 2023 updates should be enough to maintain buyers' interest in a very good all-rounder. Competitors such as the Volkswagen Atlas, Hyundai Palisade, and Kia Telluride all have more-potent engines, either as standard or available as options, and they're all a bit more exciting to drive as well. However, the Subaru Ascent is still very close to as good as it gets in this segment.

What 2023 Subaru Ascent Model Should I Buy?

The sensible money will go to a Premium-trim Ascent and either seven- or eight seats, because it offers everything you need and nothing that you don't - just be sure to add the Convenience Package if you opt fo the eight-seater. Luxury-minded buyers will likely spend a bit more on a Limited or Touring, but the Premium really does tick most of the same boxes at a much lower price than these high-end trims. An Onyx Edition Premium will do just fine for that rough-and-ready off-road look, with its blacked-out exterior and StarTex upholstery, though.

To Top