After the discontinuation of the three-row (B9) Tribeca SUV, Subaru took almost four years to come up with a replacement model. They studied the American market a little more and then came out with the Tribeca's descendant - The Subaru Ascent. Thankfully, the Ascent isn't anything like the Tribeca. It is equipped with the proven capability of Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, plus, it’s the first Subaru vehicle to include EyeSight Driver Assist Technology as a standard feature.
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Engine and Performance
Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide
Subaru Ascent is powered by a 2.4-liter engine that produces 260 horsepower. This small torquey mill makes this Subaru a more accomplished daily-driver than other three-row SUVs in the market. The transmission duties are taken care of by a CVT transmission which does a good enough job. So good that you will hardly feel its presence.
The family-sized 2020 Ascent gives you more of everything: three rows of flexible seating for seven or eight passengers, standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity. The three-row crossover space is highly crowded and with prominent models like Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot as main competitors. Subaru Ascent has a lot of ground to cover. But with a ton of standard features and class-leading offerings in utility and safety and the mark of Subaru's practicality.
8.1/10 Engine and Performance
6.0/10 Fuel Economy
2020 Subaru Ascent Features
The Subaru Ascent is available in four trim levels – Ascent base, Premium, Limited and Touring. All models come with a 260-horsepower, turbo-four engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. The base trim comes accomplished with standard AWD, tri-zone climate control and a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Premium trim adds rear-seat climate controls and towing capacity is increased to 5,000 lbs.
6.5-inch Multimedia with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
Includes Ascent's features and adds -
Includes Ascent Premium's features and adds -
Includes Ascent Limited's features and adds -
Subaru Symmetrical AWD
5,000-lb towing capacity
Second-row retractable sunshades
Upgraded leather steering wheel
X-MODE with Hill Descent Control
Chrome exhaust tips
Heated and ventilated front seats
Raised roof rails
Keyless Access with Push-Button Start
Java Brown Leather upholstery
Second-row bench seat (8 passengers)
Second-row captain’s chairs
Dual-mode heated second-row seats and heated steering wheel
Harman Kardon premium audio system with 14 speakers
Spill-repellent cloth upholstery
Power rear gate with height memory functions
180-degree front-view camera
Tri-zone automatic climate control system
8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation with SiriusXM (Optional)
EyeSight Driver Assist Technology
Rear-seat climate controls
Panoramic power moonroof (Standard)
Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
19 cup and bottle holders
All-Weather Package (Heated exterior mirrors, heated front
seats and windshield wiper de-icer)
Panoramic power moonroof (Optional)
The Limited trim increases the premium-factor by offering leather trim upholstery and keyless access with push-button start. Touring trim takes it to another level with heated and ventilated seats, premium Harman Kardon audio system and a standard power moonroof.
For its massive value for money appeal, we would recommend the base Ascent. It offers a punchy motor that has good low-end grunt. The standard AWD and notable safety features make the Ascent capable of battling out tough weather conditions.But if budget isn’t a constraint, then go for the Limited trim that offers a very good blend of price and luxury. It also offers features that you would appreciate in your longer span of ownership.
2020 Subaru Ascent Engine and Performance
“The new turbo four-cylinder makes 260 hp, which doesn't sound like a lot to move this big SUV, but ample torque should help. The Ascent won't move like an Impreza, but it should share the same sure-footedness. One question mark is how well the continuously variable automatic transmission performs.”-Edmunds
The base model of the Ascent is powered by a Subaru special boxer-four engine that belts out 260 hp and a healthy 277 lb-ft. of torque. All the power is transferred to the wheels via a CVT automatic transmission. Unlike the competition, this Subaru comes with a standard AWD system. The engine has a sporting pedigree, as it’s a larger version of a WRX engine. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) comes with paddle shifters and an 8-speed manual mode and feels more natural than other CVTs on the market.
One major positive about this engine is its early torque delivery. Getting off the line with the Ascent would be a no-drama affair. Even with a full load of passengers and cargo, this engine has enough grunt to easily merge with the highway traffic or get off the line from the stop light. Whether you are hustling around the town or on a weekend getaway, this engine has got your back.
2.4-litre turbocharged Subaru Boxer 4-cylinder
3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6
260 hp @ 5,600
280hp @ 6000
288 @ 6500
185 hp @ 5800
277 lb-ft. @ 2,000 rpm
262 lb.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
254 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
184 lb.-ft. @ 4200 rpm
Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer beat the Subaru Ascent at the horsepower game. Ford’s Ti-VCT engine churns out the segment-best – 288 horsepower which is closely followed by Honda and Subaru. When we talk about the base variants, the Toyota Highlander is outclassed by its competition. As we talk about torque, Subaru takes an obvious lead with its turbocharged boxer engine’s 277 lb.-ft. torque output.
Don’t expect any big surprise here, the Ascent with its turbo spooled up does considerably well for a three-row vehicle. Ascent achieves its 0-60 within 6.9 seconds and runs through the quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds. Subaru uses a CVT in favour of increasing fuel efficiency but unlike other CVT in this segment. This CVT works well and comes with 8 electronically programmed ‘shift’ points.
2.4 L H4
3.5 L V6
3.5 L V6
(Tons/yr. of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
Ascent is definitely on the heavier side of the scales at 4430 lbs., yet it fares well when compared to the competition. Honda Pilot takes the lead with its 6.2-second naught to sixty runs. Honda’s 6.2-second run is followed by Subaru’s 6.9-second. And finally, the Ford Explorer takes the longest 8.2 seconds to achieve a similar speed.
Ride and Handling
Subaru Ascent offers a compliant ride. The Ascent’s suspension can easily level out the impact of road undulations. With comfort being Subaru’s priority here. This Subaru is a little shy of the corners. The steering isn’t the best out there, but it adequately transfers feedback to the driver. The steering is light to use in city conditions but it does not come off as vague or hesitant. So, manoeuvring your Ascent in the confines of the city wouldn’t be too much of a task. Designed for optimal balance and an even distribution of power for maximum traction, standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive makes for exceptional stability, impressive efficiency, and a quick response to driving conditions.
When you are driving the Subaru Ascent, it wouldn’t feel like a large 3-row CUV. Like its smaller cousin, the Subaru Outback, Ascent benefits from a well-engineered driving ergonomics. The visibility, both front, and rear is good. It surely gives the Ascent an edge over the competition. Conquer rough terrain with 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard X-MODE, which optimizes the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system for maximum traction on slippery surfaces. X-MODE also incorporates Hill Descent Control for stability and confidence when descending more difficult grades.
The Subaru Ascent is equipped with the largest front and rear disc brakes in its class. Ascent comes with four-wheel antilock brakes as standard. Under emergency braking, Ascent comes to a halt from 60 mph within 119 feet.
Brake Front (in.)
Brake Rear (in.)
Curb Weight (lbs.)
60-0 MPH (ft.)
108 (With optional tires)
The Ford Explorer manages to score an impressive stopping distance of 108 ft. Although it does achieve the same with optional stickier tires. Honda Pilot’s estimated braking distance is 117 ft. However the Toyota Highlander with its estimated stopping distance of 126 ft.
One of the important selling points for these new breed 3-row CUV’s is their versatility. Come the weekend and the duty calls for trailering equipment. Subaru has an advantage over the rest –a standard AWD system which helps it rival the best in this segment even with its puny 2.4-liter engine. The Subaru Ascent can tow 5000 lbs. of equipment.
2.4 L H4
3.5 L V6
3.5 L V6
2.7 L I4
2020 Subaru Ascent Fuel Economy
Subaru Ascent uses a CVT automatic transmission which helps it case in offering a slightly better fuel economy than the competition. Ascent is rated for 21 mpg in city driving conditions and 27 mpg on highways. The combined mpg stands at 23 for the base model of the Ascent. Honda and Toyota score a similar combined mpg of 22 while the Ford Explorer scores a combined mpg of 20.
2020 Subaru Ascent Interior
“Although the Ascent lacks family-friendly features found in the latest minivans such as in-car vacuums and rear-seat entertainment, the big Subie is welcoming for families of all shapes and sizes. There are 19 cupholders to hold myriad combinations of sodas, juice boxes, water bottles, and coffee mugs, and the ride is whisper-quiet and calm enough to host any family game night.”-TheCarConnection
Seating and Comfort
The biggest Subaru ever – the Ascent offers segment-leading interior space. Ascent offers the segment-best passenger volume of 153.5 cu-ft. It beats Honda, Ford, and Toyota by a decent margin. The cabin is spacious enough and offers a good number of cubby spaces. Starting with a total number of 19 cup holders distributed throughout the cabin, 14 in the first two rows and 5 in the third row. There is a compartment above the glove box that can be used to store items like keys, coins, and tickets.
The Ascent has a welcoming interior. The quality of plastics is not upscale but neither does it feel cheap. Ascent maintains a level of consistency that is pleasing to the eye. The seats are comfortable and offer decent support in all the 3 rows. The Subaru Ascent offers to seat 8 people in the base trim level. Second rows seats can be easily flipped to make a passage to the third-row seats. Ingress and egress to the third-row seats isn’t a chore even for taller passengers.
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
40/ 60.3/ 38.6
Third (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
On paper, the Subaru Ascent doesn’t offer the best in the segment numbers but it doesn’t stray away from the segment-leaders by much.
Front Bucket Seats -inc: 10-way power driver's seat w/power lumbar support, height and tilt adjustable front head restraints and passenger front seatback pocket
Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, 2 Door Curb/Courtesy, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch, and Panic Button
HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts
Automatic Air Conditioning
Day-Night Rearview Mirror
Cargo Area Concealed Storage
Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
Rear Center Armrest
The base model of the Subaru Ascent is equipped with a standard 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes with Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The higher models come with an 8.0-inch infotainment system and inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity. Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system is user-friendly with large colourful icons and a responsive interface. With iPad, you and your passengers have endless opportunities to stay connected, engaged, and entertained. Passengers can also utilize the built-in Wi-Fi capability to stream their favourite content or search the web.
This premium entertainment experience is a great value and can be enjoyed in the backseat of your Ascent or wherever else your travels take you. There are physical buttons placed below the display screen neatly stacked on the centre stack. The Ascent has also got the following features :
Two USB ports, Bluetooth,
A four-speaker sound system, satellite radio,
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration
Wi-Fi hot spot
The Ascent offers generous cargo capacity and ranks well in this segment. At 17.8 cu-ft., Ascent’s cargo space behind the third row is second only to Ford Explorer. Fold the second row and you will have 47.5 cu-ft. of cargo space. Fold both the rows and the total cargo area increases to 86.5 cu-ft. When we consider maximum cargo capacity, the Ascent offers the maximum in this comparison.
“…Take one part Subaru Outback, one part Subaru Forester, puff it up and give it a larger, upright grille, and you have the looks of the Subaru Ascent. The styling is tasteful and attractive, and the proportions are good, but while the looks are exactly what you’d expect from Subaru, they don’t stand out as much as other SUVs. That is by no means a bad thing, but when you see an Ascent on the road, it may take a second glance to realize this is an all-new SUV.-KelleyBlueBook”
Dimensions and Weight
The Subaru Ascent plays it safe, the design isn’t spectacular. After Subaru’s first attempt at a three-row SUV B9 Tribeca which wasn’t received well and eventually, it was discontinued in 2014. This time Subaru has decided to get rid of the quirky design elements from the Tribeca. Ascent has a familiar look, and you can easily see the similarities with the smaller Subaru Outback. When you see an Ascent, you will know right away it’s a Subaru. It’s larger than an Outback, but the proportions and shape are similar.
The Ascent is built on the Subaru Global Platform using extensive high-strength steel, which provides more rigidity, long-lasting quality, and a quieter cabin. As one of the only vehicles in its class with standard raised roof rails and offering an extensive line of racking accessories — from kayak and bike carriers to rooftop containers and more — the flexible 2020 Ascent lets you load a wide variety of cargo for all your family’s expeditions.
Curb weight (lbs.)
Ground clearance (in)
Track width (in) F/R
Dimensionally, the Ascent follows the industry standards. At 4430 lbs., the Ascent is one of the beefier CUVs in the segment. Ascent offers the largest wheelbase (113.8 inches) in this comparison which translates to the maximum passenger volume in this segment. Even the ground clearance at 8.7 inches is the best in this segment. The Ascent has a dedicated X mode that equips the vehicle for mild off-roading.
Express Open/Close Sliding Glass 1st And 2nd Row Sunroof w/Sunshade
Body-coloured Front Bumper and Rear Bumper
Black Side Windows Trim and Black Front Windshield Trim
Variable Intermittent Wipers
Galvanized Steel/Aluminum Panels
Grille w/Chrome Bar
Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
2020 Subaru Ascent Safety
Subaru Ascent focuses a lot on safety, it comes equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight system across all the trim levels. This system combines adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist. Subaru also offers its Starlink Connected Services standard on all models except the base model.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Ascent a five-star overall crash test rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Ascent a Good rating (the highest) in six crash tests and named it a Top Safety Pick+, which is the organization's highest honor .
Subaru Ascent is equipped with following safety features:
Adaptive cruise control
Lane departure warning and lane-keep assist
Blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert
LED headlights that change angle as you drive around a curve
2020 Subaru Ascent Competition
Subaru Ascent vs Honda Pilot
Honda Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. of torque. Pricing for the Honda Pilot starts at $31,450. Honda Pilot has been one the best vehicles in this segment. The third generation of the Pilot was introduced in 2016. Honda Pilot is a can’t go wrong decision in the three-row CUV market.
When compared to the Subaru Ascent, the Pilot has a bigger engine as standard but it can’t match the towing and hauling capacity of the Ascent’s turbo-four engine which has better low-end torque. Moreover, the Ascent has better ground clearance, passenger volume, and cargo capacity. Choosing one between the two can be hard but it was our money we would choose the Ascent because it offers a powertrain is more refined and is hassle free, unlike Honda’s V6.
Subaru Ascent vs Ford Explorer
Ford Explorer is equipped with a 3.5-litre Ti-VCT engine that is rated for 288 hp and 254 lb-ft. of torque. Currently, in its fifth generation, the Explorer is the benchmark here. Explorer enjoys a status as the bestseller three-row SUV in the US market.
Unlike the Subaru Ascent, Ford Explorer isn’t offered with standard AWD. Still, it manages a similar towing capacity. Explorer only offers seating for 7 people. It falls behind the Ascent when it comes maximum cargo space and passenger volume. The standard four-cylinder mill on the Ascent is much frugal and offers better drivability.
Subaru Ascent vs Toyota Highlander
Powered by a 2.7-litre inline-four engine, the Highlander makes a meagre 185 hp and 184 lb-ft. of torque. Those numbers are underwhelming for a three-row SUV. With a full load of passengers and cargo, this mill struggles to keep up with other vehicles in its class. The Highlander is priced at $31,330.
When compared to the Ascent, the base model of the Highlander doesn’t offer much value. We would recommend you to skip the base model. This family haulier offers a decent interior room and cargo space but loses out to the newly introduced Subaru Ascent.
2020 Subaru Ascent Final Verdict
Newly introduced Ascent is powered by a horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine. Transmission duties are taken care of by a CVT automatic transmission. Ascent is one of the better performing three-row SUVs available in the market. Being the costliest Subaru, Ascent brings a plethora of standard features. Unlike its competitors, it comes equipped with standard AWD and Subaru’s Eyesight safety system.
Subaru Ascent offers an average passenger accommodation in the second and third-row seats. A lack of rear entertainment system is also missed dearly. If you are in the market for a three-row SUV, The Subaru Ascent should be high on your list. Ascent is one of the better-driving three-row family hauliers and it easily checks all the correct boxes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about 2020 Subaru Ascent
How much will the 2020 Subaru ascent Touring cost?
The 2020 Subaru Ascent starts at $32,970, and the top-of-the-line Touring starts at $45,670 (pricing includes destination)
Does the Subaru ascent have heated seats?
A standard 3-zone automatic climate control system helps to ensure happiness, and the Ascent offers heated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and ventilated front seats, depending on the trim level.
What engine specs does the Subaru ascent have?
Powering the Ascent is a 2.4-litre turbocharged boxer four-cylinder (H4) gasoline engine, which produces 260 horsepower (190 kW) and 277 pound-feet (376 N⋅m) of torque.