Auto review: '22 Subaru Ascent ready for dirt roads and a thirsty family

Barry Spyker, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

Instrument gauges flank a reconfigurable driver data display. A separate screen atop the dash contains off-road info and particulars on Subaru's X-Mode, which controls the engine, torque and braking to meet snow, dirt or mud conditions.

An 8-inch touchscreen is home to navigation and infotainment with compatibility to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system is not as elaborate as some but has big icons, is responsive to inputs and easy to learn.

In the second row, available captain's chairs are plush but restrict capacity to seven instead of eight. The rear seats are heated, fold flat, and have a pair of USB ports, climate controls and sun shades. The third row, like most, is tight on leg room and best left for kids and young teens.

At the rear, a hands-free power lift gate accesses 18 cubic feet of space, but fold down the third row for another 30 cubes. With both rows folded, there is 86.5 cubic feet. Those numbers aren't best-in-class (VW Atlas is No. 1) but it's not not far behind.

Subaru has an extensive list of safety features beyond its AWD, including its EyeSight driver-assist package with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist, lane departure warning and reverse automatic braking.

It's an uphill battle for the Ascent against heavyweights like the Toyota Highlander, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Kia Telluride, with as much as four times the sales. And while there have been some reliability issues in the first couple of years, Consumer Reports magazine says they appear to have been corrected.

The Ascent is ready to serve those with a hunger for exploring and a thirst that requires (are you kidding?) 19 cup and bottle holders.

2022 Subaru Ascent Limited


Base Price: $40,720

As tested: $43,670 (Includes options package featuring Harman Kardon premium audio with 14 speakers; panoramic power moonroof; Starlink 8-inch multimedia system; 2nd-row captain's chairs)

What's all the excitement about? All-wheel-drive is standard; New Onyx trim features blacked-out grille and wheels; a third row for the tykes

Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to CVT (continuously variable transmission) with paddle shifters

How's the performance? Not thrilling to drive but competent on corners and comfortable on the highway

Fuel economy: EPA says 20 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined

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