Subaru has finally -- and, also, again -- jumped into the mid-size, three-row crossover ring with an all-new model for 2019 it calls the Ascent.
This is the first time Subaru has fielded an entry in the seven/eight seat vehicle class since it discontinued the Tribeca in 2014 following a poorly received run tainted by questionable styling applied in its early years.
We expect the Ascent with suffer no such hardships owing to easily digestible looks that give the appearance of an Outback that has overindulged in its favourite junk food. Mainstream styling sells a lot of cars in this class: It's very difficult to do something different without turning off more shoppers that you attract. Thus far, Ford is the only company that has pulled it off, with its aging Flex.
Where the Tribeca used a horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine (a configuration Subaru still offers in the Outback and Legacy), the Ascent will skip that in favour of an all-new turbocharged engine displacing 2.4L and boasting 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission will be a continuously variable automatic (CVT). All-wheel drive will be standard, as is Subaru's way, and it will boast a torque vectoring function borrowed from the WRX to improve handling.
Notable standard features include Subaru's EyeSight active safety suite, which is optional in the brand's other product lines.
The range starts with the Convenience trim which, along with EyeSight, will also come with a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen that supports the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration platforms, heated front seats, second-row USB ports, three-zone climate control and 19 cup and bottle holders (be sure to map out all the rest stops along your route).
Touring trim adds an 8.0-inch screen, blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, power tailgate, panoramic sunroof, push-button start and second-row climate controls.
To that, Limited trim adds 20-inch wheels, leather seating, power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated second-row seats, 14-speaker sound system with navigation and USB ports for third-row passengers.
Finally, Premier trim gets ventilated front seats, brown leather upholstery, forward-view parking camera, rain-sensing wipers and a 120-volt power outlet.
Both Touring and Limited models can be optioned with second-row captain's chairs, while these are standard in the Premier.
We will be curious to see what kind of traction Subaru finds with its latest mid-size model. Given this brand's loyal following and its AWD system's positive reputation, we'd have thought that even the weirdly styled Tribeca would have done better than it did. But this segment has changed a lot since that car was around, and with mid-size SUVs continuing to usurp the dominance of minivans and sedans among family buyers, we have to think the Ascent will be well-received in the marketplace.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed