Subaru has unveiled its largest vehicle ever at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The Ascent is a family-sized SUV that stretches the Subaru Global Platform to its limits to create enough space for three rows of seating. Retaining much of the look of the Ascent Concept that debuted at the New York Auto Show in April, the production Ascent comes with an all-new engine and Subaru's tried and true Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.
Subaru can be overlooked because of its relatively small lineup of models and its general lack of hype. Its cars have long appealed to a core group of buyers, but the company looks to be targeting a wider audience as it continues to expand its lineup. Given the popularity of full-sized crossover-SUVs, the Ascent seems a safe move.
For Subaru, the Ascent is a clear move to fill a gap they've often lost repeat customers to. Once a family outgrows the Outback or Forester, they have no other Subaru to turn to and must look elsewhere to get that third row of seating. With the Subaru Ascent, the company hopes to keep those buyers inside a car with the star cluster logo on the hood. Just having the badge won't do it, though. The Ascent has to be capable of competing with its market, and what is on show at the LA show suggests it will.
For its biggest ever vehicle, Subaru created an all-new 2.4-liter engine in its usual boxer/opposed-piston configuration, but with higher compression than normal (10.6:1) and a twin-scroll turbocharger with an intercooler. This generates 260 hp (194 kW) and a broad torque curve peaking at 277 lb-ft (376 Nm). That power runs through a redesigned continuously variable transmission (CVT) made to handle the torque output and potential towing requirements (up to 5,000 lb/2,268 kg) of the Ascent.
The engine, if it sounds familiar, has several technologies in common with the turbocharged and intercooled engine used in the WRX and STI models – the Active Torque Vectoring of the all-wheel drive system comes directly from them, in fact. The 8.7 inch (220 mm) clearance height is very close to what's found on the Outback and the low step-in and wide-swinging rear doors are almost identical in design to the Forester. So it's safe to say that Subaru didn't stray too far from familiar pastures for this new crossover.
The Subaru Ascent has a 113.8-inch (2,890.5mm) wheelbase and 153.5 cubic feet (4,347 L) of passenger volume. That's roughly on par with the segment averages for midsize three-rowers. Three-zone climate control is standard, as are eight USB ports and 19 (count 'em!) cup holders.
Also debuting inside the Ascent is Subaru's latest infotainment and STARLINK multimedia system. A 6.5-inch screen is standard and an 8-inch display is available at higher trim levels. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are several app options and Bluetooth connectivity. New is a high-speed LTE Wi-Fi option for in-car connectivity throughout the passenger cabin.
Subaru's popular safety systems that run through the EyeSight cameras are standard in the Ascent. This includes active pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure, and so forth. Blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert are options, as is reverse automatic braking.
The Subaru Ascent will be offered with a choice of seven- or eight-passenger configuration and come in four trim levels, starting with the base and moving to the Premium, Limited, and the Touring. Each add more interior accoutrements and technological touches, such as a Front View Monitor that displays the view from a front grille-mounted camera, steering responsive headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wiper system coming standard on the top-level Touring trim.
The Ascent will be made in Subaru's Indiana plant and will enter the market as a 2019 model year vehicle. No exact ETA or expected price ranges have been announced, nor have estimated fuel economy numbers. Subaru says these will be forthcoming as the vehicle nears launch.
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