Subaru again enlivened the big SUV class. One of the major car makers lacking a three-row SUV comes with the tough 2020 Subaru Ascent. This is not Subaru’s first three-row SUVs since the Tribeca is generally not appealing to buyers. It quietly disappears five years ago after eight years of low sales, not helped by its small third row and appetite for fuel.
The 2020 Subaru Ascent is a completely different SUV. With a standard seat for eight passengers, or seven with optional captain seats, the Ascent offers almost 32 inches of third-row legroom, which is about the same as the Honda Pilot. The 86.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space means you will not run out of space for equipment and luggage, while a new four-cylinder turbocharged engine not only efficient but can also tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Like most Subaru models, the 2020 Ascent is equipped with standard all-wheel drive, the Subaru signature feature that drivers in wet weather states will appreciate. And with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the Ascent proves capable on off-road terrain.
TRIM LEVELS & FEATURES
The 2020 Subaru Ascent is a three-row, mid-size crossover SUV offered in four trim levels: base, Premium, Limited and Touring.
Starting from $31,995, the base trim comes with an extensive list of standard features that includes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and X-Mode, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with silver finish, raised roof rails, automatic power door locks and power side mirrors, 19 cupholders, security system with engine immobilizer, second-row bench seat, three-zone automatic climate control, EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, SUBARU STARLINK 6.5-inch Multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, multi-function display and four USB ports. Also standard is Auto Vehicle Hold which keeps the vehicle in position at a stop so the driver does not need to continuously depress the brake pedal.
Priced from $34,395, the Premium trim adds towing capability up to 5,000 lb., 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in gray with machine finish, windshield wiper de-icer, body-color side mirrors, privacy glass, blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever handle, unique spill-repellent cloth upholstery, power driver seat, 3-mode heated front seats, rear-seat climate controls, Wi-Fi connectivity, SUBARU STARLINK 8.0-inch Multimedia Plus system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the All-Weather Package with heated exterior mirrors. New for 2020, the Premium trim and above offer one-touch interior illumination on/off controls.
Stepping up to the Premium trim also allows wider option availability, including 20-inch wheels in dark gray with machine finish, second-row captain chairs, a power rear gate with height memory and reverse automatic braking, which applies the brakes to avoid a collision while in reverse. Also available are keyless access with push-button start, panoramic moonroof, a stowable cargo cover, auto-dimming rearview compass mirror with HomeLink, SUBARU STARLINK 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The 2020 Subaru Ascent Limited starts at $39,345 and includes all Premium trim features along with leather-trimmed upholstery and second-row captain chairs or bench seating. The Limited trims also get 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in dark gray, LED fog lights, LED Steering Responsive Headlights with High Beam Assist, lower door cladding with chrome accents, body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless access with push-button start, reverse automatic braking, driver’s seat adjustable thigh support, second-row retractable sunshades, power rear gate with height memory and two additional USB ports.
The top-of-the-line Ascent Touring model gets chrome door handles, front under guard and rear bumper protector, power-folding exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, rain-sensing wipers and a panoramic power moonroof. The interior features leather heated steering wheel, Java Brown leather seats and upholstery, woodgrain-pattern matte finish accent trim, ventilated driver and front passenger seats, a 120-volt power outlet, 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system, eight USB ports and Harman Kardon QuantumLogic surround sound system with 14 speakers. A unique Smart Rear-View Mirror and a 180-degree front-view camera complete Touring’s comprehensive list of features. The 2020 Subaru Ascent Touring is priced at $45,045.
The 2020 Subaru Ascent offers the optimal blend of SUV capability and car-like ride and handling with standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Active Torque Vectoring, and four-wheel independent suspension. It’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance are greater than many other SUVs, yet the Ascent maintains a comfortably low step-in height for both front and rear passenger.
The 2020 Subaru Ascent is powered by a 2.4-liter turbocharged BOXER engine that generates 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and accompanied by a broad torque curve that peaks at 277 lb.ft. over a 2,000-4,800-rpm. Every Ascents are paired with a high-torque Lineartronic CVT featuring an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters as well as X-Mode with Hill Descent Control. This engine allows up to 5,000-lb. towing capacity and offers Trailer Stability Assist to help maintain vehicle stability while towing. The TSA system utilizes yaw sensors to monitor trailer sway and then can brake individual wheels to stabilize the vehicle and trailer.
2.4-liter turbocharged flat-4
260 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
277 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 mpg, 20/26 mpg (Limited/Touring)
Zero to 60 mph: 6.4 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 17.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.1 sec @ 94 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 168 ft
Towing capacity : 5000 lbs
The 2020 Subaru Ascent interiors do not emphasize on fashion, instead it opts for functionality. That’s a good direction since its predecessor, the Subaru Tribeca was stuck in style and hard to use. The Ascent controls are well labeled and logically placed for ease of operation. The touchscreen is mounted near the top of the dashboard, minimizing driver distraction. A very practical multifunctional display is smartly placed to perform useful information at a glance.
The infotainment system is easy to use thanks to sharp graphics and intuitive menus. In addition to general input for mobile devices, several internet streaming apps are included in the system, reinforced by Wi-Fi hotspots. A pair of optional 32GB iPads with wireless headphones are also available to accompany the passengers.
The Touring trim has better material than lower models, exceeding our expectations for a Subie. The faux wood trim is quite real, but overall it’s less luxurious than what the Mazda CX-9 Signature edition offers.
The front seats are spacious and supportive, but the leather upholstery can be a bit stifling. Ventilated seats are only available in the top trim, keeping passengers cool enough at the highest fan speed. The second-row captain’s seat is similar in shape and offers adjustable armrests. There’s ample headroom directly above the seats, but the headliner just above the windows drops down, making it feel a bit restricting. The space between these chairs is wide enough, and there is a handle on top of the back seat to allow adults to easily access the third row. The back seat only has enough space for smaller adults and just fine for young children.
The 2020 Subaru Ascent offers an average amount of cargo space in the class, with 17.6 cubic feet behind the third row and up to 86 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. The third-row seats have to be folded from the back, and the second row must be from the rear passenger door. The loading floor is not perfectly flat but that should be enough in many cases. There are lots of places for small items in front, but they are not generous in size.