Expert Reviews

2024 Subaru Ascent Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

The 2024 Subaru Ascent is the automaker’s largest vehicle, and the only one with three rows of seats.

As with almost all of this automaker’s vehicles, it also offers standard all-wheel drive (AWD). It got a refresh for 2023 that tweaked its styling and updated its features, and so it boasts only minor changes this year, including reshaped mirrors and interior LED reading lights.

It comes in five trims, starting at $44,190 including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $2,195. The Convenience, Touring, and Limited trims come with eight-passenger seating, but those last two can be ordered with second-row captain’s chairs for as a no-charge option, trimming total occupant capacity by one. The Onyx and Premier are seven-seat only. Tested here is the Limited in seven-passenger for $54,090. The lineup tops out with the Premier at $57,190.

Styling: 8/10

Last year’s update took the Ascent from a bland exterior to a handsome one that’s interesting but not over the top, with its sharp-edged lights and just enough chrome. Lower trims get 18-inch wheels, while the Limited and Premier have 20-inch rims. The inside is equally handsome, with a modular-style dash that mimics the chunky shapes of the exterior, giving the whole vehicle a cohesive design.

Safety: 9/10

The Ascent gets the top five-star crash-test rating from the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). At the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it earns a Top Safety Pick+. That means it earned the top “Good” in the updated side crash test, which better simulates being struck by a large SUV and which is now a requirement for the organization’s top award. It earned the next-step-down “Acceptable” in the updated frontal crash that now assesses potential injury to a rear-seat passenger as well as those in front, but for now, either “Good” or “Acceptable” qualifies for Top Safety Pick+. It also earned a Good+ for ease-of-use of its child seat tethers.

All trims include a suite of driver-assist technologies that Subaru calls EyeSight because most rely on a forward-facing camera that’s inside the windshield and its view is cleared by the wipers, whereas exterior sensors can often stop working in heavy snow. Its features include emergency front braking, lane-keeping and centring assist, and adaptive cruise control; and all trims also include the back-up camera that’s mandatory on new vehicles. All but the Convenience trim further add blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and emergency rear braking. The Premier exclusively adds surround-view cameras.

Features: 8/10

The base Convenience trim includes a 11.6-inch centre touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat reminder, eight-way power driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, and 18-inch wheels. The Touring then adds rear climate controls, a power tailgate, cargo privacy cover, auto-dimming mirrors, a heated steering wheel, and panoramic sunroof.

My Limited tester included 20-inch wheels, navigation, 12-way driver’s seat, power passenger seat, heated second-row seats, leather upholstery, and premium audio system. Moving up to the top Premier adds ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding mirrors, 120-volt outlet, and woodgrain-look interior trim.

User-Friendliness: 8/10

The Ascent’s controls are a combination of touch and hard buttons, and while it’s all easy to figure out, some climate functions can require a couple of fiddly steps. The larger issue is that the screen washes out when the sun hits it, making everything on it almost invisible.

It’s easy to fold the second- and third-row seats for extra cargo capacity, and to slide the second row forward for access to the third row; but while there’s a lot of space for entry, it’s a high step up into the vehicle, and smaller children may have to be lifted up to get in.

Practicality: 8/10

At 458 L of cargo space with the third row upright, the Ascent sits about midrange with some of its competitors, where it’s more spacious cargo-wise than the Mazda CX-90 or Toyota Highlander, but not as large as the Kia Telluride or Honda Pilot. Small-item storage includes an open cubby in the centre stack, and for thirsty occupants, there are 19 cupholders spread throughout the cabin. Towing capacity is a maximum of 2,270 kg (5,000 lb) for most trims – the base Convenience is only 908 kg (2,000 lb) – which is on par with most rivals.

Comfort: 8/10

The front seats proved supportive during a long drive, and the second-row captain’s chairs should keep their occupants happy. Front-row legroom is generous for the segment, while the second row trails some rivals but is still roomy. The third row is tight and suited mainly for youngsters; and although it’s more generous than some competitors at 804 mm (31.7 in), that mostly proves just how very uncomfortable those other SUVs are. The ride is smooth and the cabin is quiet.

Power: 8/10

The Ascent is powered by a turbocharged 2.4L horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine, making 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to an automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). That’s about midway for power among its competitors. This Subaru can feel a bit laboured when it’s fully loaded with people and goods, but otherwise it gets you where you need to go with no issues, and with enough power for confident highway merging and passing.

Driving Feel: 7/10

All Ascent trims come with AWD. Under normal driving conditions, 60 per cent of torque goes to the front wheels, and while the rear ones always get at least 40 per cent, more can be sent back to them as needed for traction. Its so-called “X-Mode” selectable driving modes can be set for conditions such as dirt, deep snow, or mud.

Overall, the driving experience isn’t a standout and could be better. The steering is too light, giving the driver a feeling of disconnection with the vehicle. With that lack of steering feel, a driver can tend to move the wheel a bit too much, and since the Ascent responds quickly to steering input, it can make it feel twitchy. It definitely doesn’t feel like it’s out of control, but it is annoying, and a bit more weight to the steering would be a big improvement.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

The Ascent is rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 12.3 L/100 km in the city, 9.4 on the highway, and 11.0 in combined driving, and it takes regular-grade gasoline. In my week with it, I averaged 12.2 L/100 km.

Its consumption is in line with most of its AWD rivals, which run from the Mazda CX-90 at 9.3 L/100 km and the Toyota Highlander at 9.9, to the Kia Telluride at 11.7.

Value: 9/10

The Ascent starts at $44,190 and tops out at $57,190. That’s lower than some of its close rivals, where the Mazda CX-90 starts at $48,095; the Toyota Highlander at $48,720; and the Honda Pilot and Kia Telluride begin above $52,000. At its highest trim, the Highlander is $59,300, while those others have top trims that are above $64,000 (all prices including delivery). The Ascent isn’t cheap, but it’s value-priced compared to its rivals, and just as importantly, it looks and feels up to its price.

The Verdict

Three-row SUVs have mostly taken over from minivans as the family-hauler-of-choice, and the 2024 Subaru Ascent faces a lot of competition in the segment. It isn’t a standout overall, but it offers a lot of features at a price that undercuts many of its rivals, and when you’re comparison-shopping, it should be on the list.

Engine Displacement 2.4L
Engine Cylinders H4
Peak Horsepower 260 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Peak Torque 277 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Fuel Economy 12.3 / 9.4 / 11.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 458 / 1,193 / 2,061 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row
Model Tested 2024 Subaru Ascent Limited
Base Price $51,895
A/C Tax None
Destination Fee $2,195
Price as Tested $54,190
Optional Equipment