Subaru finally has a three-row SUV to sell in the US.
If a car company wants to be successful in the US, it needs to build a large, three-row SUV. Volkswagen finally learned this lesson with the Atlas. Not to be outdone, Subaru has just revealed its all-new three-row SUV, the Ascent, at the 2017 LA Auto Show. The Ascent will be the largest model that Subaru has ever sold in the US and should help draw in buyers with large families to the brand. This is a big step for Subaru, one that should help increase its sales numbers in the US.
All Ascent models will come with three rows of seating, with captain's chairs or an available bench in the second row. This gives buyers a choice between seven or eight-passenger configurations. This all-new model will also have some interesting new features.
Powering the Ascent is an all-new 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four boxer engine with 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. This new engine uses direct fuel injection, active valve control, a twin-scroll turbocharger and an intercooler. Power is sent to the tarmac via Subaru's Symmetric All-Wheel Drive and Lineartronic CVT transmission with paddle shifters and an eight-speed manual shift mode. This powertrain allows the Ascent to tow up to 5,000 pounds, the most of any Subaru in history. The Ascent will also be off-road capable thanks to 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Subaru also gave this SUV Active Torque Vectoring, which was first introduced on the WRX and WRX STI.
Towing will also be made easier thanks to a trailer stability assist system that uses yaw sensors to detect trailer sway and individual wheel braking to stabilize the vehicle. Subaru built this SUV with safety in mind, which is why the Ascent will come with standard EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Throttle Management. There's also a new head-up display called the EyeSight Assist Monitor. Other available safety features include Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Steering Assist Braking.
The Ascent will even offer a system that will automatically brake the vehicle when reversing, if it detects an obstacle. The top-level touring trim will also come with a front-view monitor that will show a 180 degree view using a camera mounted in the grill. The Ascent will be offered in four trim levels: base, premium, limited and touring. Base trims come standard with EyeSight, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, four USB ports, three zone automatic climate control, 18-inch aluminum wheels, 19 cup holders, multi-function display and a security system with engine immobilizer.
Stepping up to the premium trims adds a few niceties such as blind-spot detection, power driver's seat, a larger touchscreen, larger 18-inch wheels, and push-button start. The limited trim is the first to add leather seats as well as extra USB ports among other upgrades. The limited trim is distinguished by some chrome pieces on the exterior and a dressed up interior with upgraded leather and wood trim. The limited trim Ascent also comes with ventilated seats, navigation, 14-speakers, a panoramic moonroof, and a 180 degree front camera. Subaru hasn't announced pricing yet, but we expect it to compete with established models like the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9 and VW Atlas.
The Ascent will be built in Subaru's Indiana plant, along with the Outback, Legacy and Impreza. While the Ascent may not be the most visually exciting car, we think that it is a huge step for the Subaru brand. We also can't help but wonder what the possibilities will be for the new 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. This new engine is not far off on power from the 2.0-liter engine that is currently used in the WRX. The current STI is starting to feel very dated with its 2.5-liter unit, so perhaps Subaru could squeeze more power out of this new engine, or even use it in more models like the Forester and Outback. Overall, Subaru has succeeded here and we look forward to getting the Ascent out on the road when it arrives.