2018 Subaru Ascent Spied: The Three-Row Subie Comes into Sharper Focus


2018 Subaru Ascent Spied: The Three-Row Subie Comes into Sharper Focus

Apr 1, 2017

What It Is: The crossover destined to be Subaru’s largest vehicle when it joins the lineup late this year or early next year. With three rows of seating and exterior dimensions similar to those of the Honda Pilot, the Ford Explorer, and other family haulers, the Ascent is the spiritual—and far less bizarre—successor to the Tribeca that you forgot Subaru sold from 2006 to 2014.
Why It Matters: The Ascent will take the cap off the Subaru lineup for owners eager for a more people- and stuff-carrying ability than provided by their Forester or Outback wagon. Since the Tribeca’s demise, these buyers have had nowhere to go but to another brand. Even with those defections, Subaru has seen record sales for several years running, and now they can perhaps ascend into an Ascent, thus keeping wind in the company’s sails.

2018 Subaru Ascent (spy photo)

Platform: The new scalable Global Platform that made its debut beneath the 2017 Subaru Impreza has been expanded to underpin the Ascent. So far, we know only that this architecture will incorporate plenty of high-strength steel and mount the boxer engine well down in the Ascent’s nose for a low center of gravity—for an SUV. Those features should pay dividends in handling and in crash performance. The Viziv-7 concept that previewed this new model is considerably larger than any current Subaru, at 15 inches longer than an Outback and riding on a 117.7-inch wheelbase. If those figures hold, the Ascent will be every bit as big as a Buick Enclave, Dodge Durango, or Ford Explorer.
The Ascent’s exterior now is far closer to production spec than the rough test mules we spotted last September, and we can see that Subaru won’t break any new stylistic ground. The swept-back headlights and hexagonal grille could be pulled directly off the understated Outback/Legacy siblings, while the curving peaks over each wheel recall similar flourishes on the new Impreza. From the beltline up, the Ascent could be mistaken for Subaru’s smaller and rather upright Forester. The large rear quarter-windows give away the Ascent’s size, however, and should make for an airy-feeling third-row seat. Added together, these styling elements are consistent with Subaru orthodoxy. The real news here is that the Ascent won’t be weird like the old Tribeca.

2018 Subaru Ascent (spy photo)

Powertrain: Subaru’s most powerful engine is a turbocharged flat-four that motivates the WRX STI. That engine also happens to be Subaru’s oldest and isn’t very efficient, so count it out for Ascent duty. That shifts our expectation to the 250-hp 2.0-liter flat-four that powers the Forester 2.0XT, possibly a version with more horsepower to better move the larger Ascent. The 3.6-liter flat-six from the Outback and Legacy is another possibility, as is a gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain of some sort. All we know for certain is that the Ascent will come with a continuously variable automatic transmission and that all-wheel drive will be standard.

Competition: Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder.

Estimated Arrival and Price: Look for the Ascent to make its debut later this year and for sales to begin soon after, possibly before the end of 2017. Pricing should start around $30,000 and vault into the mid $40,000 range, in line with most of today’s nonluxury three-row crossovers.


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