Subaru’s sales have been on the rise for the past nine years, despite the fact that it’s been losing a few customers along the way. That’s because it hasn’t offered a three-row SUV since it discontinued the Tribeca in 2014, forcing families who outgrow their Outbacks to abandon the brand.
The exodus should end next summer when the all-new, Indiana-built Ascent goes on sale. It’s the largest vehicle Subaru has ever made and has room for up to eight passengers and plenty of their stuff.
The Ascent will compete with the likes of the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot, and has a greater interior volume than either of them. All-wheel-drive is standard with a continuously variable automatic transmission and a new 260 hp 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four-cylinder engine. That puts it on the low end of power for the large crossover segment, but Subaru promises excellent, though yet to be revealed fuel efficiency and a 5,000-pound tow rating.
All Ascents are equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight safety system, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and a head-up display, while higher end models add a 180-degree front camera, reverse automatic brakes, a 4G Wi-Fi system and up to eight USB ports. The top of the line Touring also gets a rearview mirror that you can switch from a reflective surface to a video feed from the tailgate, similar to the one in the Cadillac CT6, in case kids or cargo are blocking your view.
Pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect it to be very competitive, with base models starting around $30,000. That’ll get you an eight-passenger Ascent with a second row bench seat that can be swapped for second row captain’s chairs in the three step up trims.
Regardless of the configuration, each passenger can bring at least two drinks with them because the Ascent has a total of 19 cupholders, which is proof positive that Subaru is really serious about this large family car thing.