Succinct as it is accurate, “It’s a Subaru” pretty well describes the 2021 Subaru Ascent three-row crossover SUV.
All-wheel drive? Check. Horizontally opposed engine? Yup. Room for people and gear? Uh-huh. Hard-wearing interior? Sure.
The 2021 Subaru Ascent soldiers into the new year with minimal changes on what’s been a reliable formula so far. The new Ascent gets adaptive headlights as standard equipment and an upgraded safety suite to complement good standard features. It earns a 6.7 TCC Rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
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Although the Ascent hits the trails with verve, its body stays right down mainstream for most three-row crossovers and Subaru’s look. It’s a familiar affair from head to toe: it looks like an Outback big-and-tall in all the right ways, or a calorific Forester—you pick.
Inside, there are seats for up to eight, although a seven-seat configuration with two captain’s chairs in the middle row is our favorite. The Ascent is fairly unadorned inside except for functional flourishes such as wide openings, up to a half-dozen USB ports, or 19 cupholders.
Under the hood is a turbo flat-4 that makes 260 horsepower teamed to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive. The Ascent has plenty of off-road prowess, but it’s on-road manners are more endearing. The EPA pegs the Ascent right in the middle among three-row crossovers at 23 mpg combined, although pressing the turbo into duty can sink mileage for the heavy crossover.
The Ascent is Subaru’s biggest crossover, and most comfortable. With seats for up to eight with room in the back for gear, the three-row crossover excels at convenience. Rear seat riders get more than 38 inches of leg room and the third row is suitable for adults, too.
This year, the Ascent adds a more sophisticated active safety suite on all models: uprated headlights favored by the IIHS are newly standard, and a rear-seat reminder assists busy parents.
Starting from $33,345, the Ascent makes sense for families upgrading to a bigger canoe. We see the best value in the Ascent Premium, which costs $35,845 and adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen, cloth upholstery, and 2.4 beverage possibilities for up to eight passengers.