Frank A. Aukofer
When the Subaru Ascent crossover SUV debuted as a 2019 model, the conclusion here was that it was among the most family-friendly vehicles available, minivans notwithstanding. Now, in its 2021 form, it adds sophistication to its attributes.
It’s a full-size, three-row vehicle with 148 cubic feet of space for seven or eight passengers, depending on whether you choose a second row bench or separate captain’s seats. Even the third row can accommodate three skinny adult passengers with plenty of head and knee room, as the second row seats have plenty of front and rear adjustment.
There is only 18 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. But folding it opens up 47 cubic feet and 86 cubic feet if you also fold the second row.
Power comes from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which develops 266 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, enough to take the climb from 4,600 pounds to 60 miles per hour in less than seven milliseconds. seconds. City / highway / combined gas mileage is EPA rated at 20/26/22 mpg.
The engine is a horizontally opposed design of the same type that powered the older Volkswagen Beetle, which toured countries around the world from the end of WWII through 1975. Also called pancake, boxer, or flat-four, the cylinders rest on feet to feet on both sides of the crankshaft instead of the more common standing or leaning in a V-shaped design.
You will not hear any hissing noise from the Ascent’s boxer motor. Subaru engineers refined it and added insulation to the cabin, so occupants can barely hear it. In addition, with its short vertical profile, the engine can be mounted low in the engine compartment. It gives any vehicle a lower center of gravity, which improves handling and stability. Subaru is now the only manufacturer to install boxers in all of its vehicles, although you can also find them in some Porsche models.
The transmission is one of the best continuously variable designs that offer decent fuel economy. CVTs use a belt and pulley system to multiply power and have no shift points, although the Ascent can be shifted manually like an eight-speed automatic. Braking was relaxed and confident with a solid pedal feel.
There are four Ascent versions, called trim levels in the industry: Base, which starts at $ 33,345, including destination charges; Premium, $ 35,845; Limited, $ 40,645 and Touring, $ 46,495. Tested for this review, the Limited with second row captain seats and a $ 2,950 option package including a Harman Kardon surround sound audio system with 14 speakers, panoramic sunroof, navigation system and a cargo space cover.
As with all Subaru vehicles except the rear-wheel-drive BRZ sports coupe, the tested Ascent comes standard with all-wheel drive. It is improved by controlling the dynamics of the company vehicle.
Safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking in forward and reverse, adaptive cruise control with warning and lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot and curtain monitoring side airbags with rollover sensors.
The Limited Ascent tested also came with 20-inch alloy rims, leather upholstery, captain’s seats, tri-zone air conditioning, heated seats, memory driver’s seat and power-adjustable front passenger seat, a Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM radio, Apple Car Play and Android Auto. , Pandora and iHeart radio, power tailgate with height memory and six USB charging ports – two in the front with phone connectivity and four in the rear.
Oh, and don’t miss the 19 (count them) cup holders and retractable sun shades in the second row windows.
The ergonomic instruments and controls were much appreciated. Some examples: A button on the dashboard behind the steering wheel resets the trip odometer. And the center display shows presets on the radio’s home page. Simplicity eliminates the sometimes maddening search in menus and submenus.
On the road, the Ascent rolls quietly unless you step on the accelerator for maximum acceleration. It also has comfortable front and second row seats, and the suspension system and tires combine for a comfortable ride, except when you encounter the many badly pockmarked roads which are candidates for improved infrastructure.
With active torque vectoring and quick-ratio steering, handling is the Ascent’s strong point. It validates the old automobile adage that a large vehicle must drive small and a small vehicle must drive big. The Ascent combines light, responsive and communicative steering with instant throttle that makes it almost pleasant to maneuver in heavy traffic.
Model: 2021 Subaru Ascent Limited AWD Four-Door Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle
Engine: 2.4 liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, turbocharged; 266 horsepower, 277 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic with eight-speed manual mode and all-wheel drive
Total length: 16 feet, 5 inches
Height: 6 feet
Passenger / cargo volume EPA / SAE: 148/18 cubic feet
Weight: 4,600 pounds
Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds
EPA City / Highway / Combined Fuel Consumption: 20/26/22 mpg
Base price including destination charges: $ 40,645
Price tested: $ 43,595