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Subaru Starts Building Ascent SUVs Alongside Outback And Legacy

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The highly anticipated three-row SUV is one step closer to hitting the roads.

Subaru announced yesterday that production of the Ascent SUV has officially commenced, joining the Outback, Legacy and Impreza at its Lafayette, Indiana plant. The three-row SUV will be the largest Subaru ever, and marks the brand's return to offering a seven-seat model after a four-year absence. The Ascent joins the Crosstrek and Forester to complete Subaru's SUV lineup with an option at the large end of the size chart.

"The Subaru Ascent is a great addition to our production line-up," said Tom Easterday, Senior Executive Vice President of SIA. "Production of this outstanding new family vehicle allowed us to create hundreds of new jobs at SIA, and also at our suppliers in Indiana and across the country." The Indiana plant added 200 jobs for Ascent production, capping off a total of 2,000 jobs added and $1.5 billion worth of investment over the past five years with the addition of Impreza and popularity of Outback. Currently about 350,000 vehicles roll out of the plant annually, and Subaru hopes that Ascent will push that to over 400,000.

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That number is entirely realistic if the Ascent matches the success of the Volkswagen Atlas, which is on pace for over 60,000 sales in its first full calendar year. However, Subaru will have to steal sales from popular favorites like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Hyundai Santa Fe all of which have generations of loyalty built up and companies throwing great deals around to keep those customers. To win shoppers over or get them to step up from the Outback, the Ascent offers a 2.4-liter turbo-four boxer engine with 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque routed through a CVT with the brand's signature symmetrical AWD included as standard equipment.

Also standard is Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, and a head-up display. Being the largest Subaru ever designed, there is standard seating for eight, though the option of captain's chairs in the second row can reduce head count to seven, with all the typical options and tech features to stay competitive in a crowded, popular segment. The Ascent will hit dealerships this summer at a starting price of $31,995 plus $975 destination charges, climbing all the way up to $44,695 for fully loaded Touring trim.