5 things to know about the 2019 Subaru Ascent

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2019 Subaru Ascent (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

We all like to think we learn from our mistakes. Right?

Well, in the case of the failed B9 Tribeca, Subaru learned a lot. For instance, styling matters. Oh, and Subaru owners want something that looks – and drives – like a Subaru.

The automaker then used this knowledge to create an all-new family vehicle that actually makes sense.

It tows. It has three rows. It has decent cargo capacity. It can fit up to three car seats in the middle row. And with a base price of $31,995, it won’t break the bank.

The all-new 2019 Ascent fills a void in Subaru’s lineup, and with a plethora of family friendly features, it will allow active families to stay with the brand from newly married through empty nest.

All-new 2.4-liter Boxer engine

As the largest vehicle in the Subaru lineup, it makes sense the Ascent would get an all-new engine. The surprise is it’s a 4-cylinder instead of a 6 – and it can still hold its own in the acceleration department.

The 2.4-liter Boxer engine has direct-injection and is turbocharged, delivering 260 horsepower and 277 pound feet of torque. This is about 20 – 30 horsepower less than the V-6 engines of its competitors, but it’s about 10 – 20 more pound-feet of torque than those same competitors.

And it’s the torque that helps with towing and passing maneuvers.

Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.

I was skeptical that a three-row vehicle with a 4-cylinder engine could tow 1,000 pounds let alone 5,000, which is probably why Subaru set up a towing exercise during the press preview.

Subaru hooked up a 4,300-pound Airstream trailer to a Premium trim Ascent and put us on something akin to an autocross. The idea was to test maneuverability, fast acceleration and hard braking.

While I certainly felt the weight of the trailer, I didn’t feel it tug or bounce through the slalom and hard acceleration. Nor did I feel it push when I hit the brakes.

Though this was only a short exercise, it was enough to see that towing is possible and somewhat seamless. My only recommendation would be a set of mirror extenders to see around the back of the trailer so you don’t miss something in your blind spot on the highway.

Seats 7 or 8

Active families need to be ready for everything from hockey practice to carpool, and by only having vehicles that seat five, Subaru was missing out on a huge chunk of the car buying public.

Now, the Ascent offers three rows of seating in 7- or 8-passenger configurations.

The base Ascent comes with an 8-passenger-only configuration, and the top-tier Touring trim has standard middle row captain’s chairs. But the Premium and Limited trims offer both bench seats and captain’s chairs – for an equal price.

Up to 8 USB ports available

I’ve long held the position there should be a USB port for every seat. Yet some automakers seem to think that one USB port – up front, next to the driver – is sufficient. It is – if you don’t have any passengers.

But when you have a family vehicle, one is nowhere near sufficient if you want to keep everyone entertained and happy.

Ascent starts with four USB ports. But the upper trims come with six, and then as a dealer-installed feature you can get up to eight.

Our response to that: Thank you.

Standard EyeSight

Safety matters when you’re carrying precious cargo. Which is why Subaru doesn’t want you to have to choose to add extra safety features. They’re included.

EyeSight gets top marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and includes features such as automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

The only one of Ascents competitors that has a similar standard safety inclusion is the Toyota Highlander.

The Bottom Line

Subaru has really done a bang-up job with this all-new three-row SUV. It’s comfortable to drive, looks great and truly functions as a family vehicle.

Before Ascent, Subaru owners had to leave the brand if they wanted anything bigger than a Forester. But now, with a high level of standard safety features, space for the entire family and Subaru’s rugged good looks and capability, the automaker finally has a vehicle that grows along with your family.