Safety first, last, and always: The Subaru Ascent, reviewed

Safety first, last, and always: The Subaru Ascent, reviewed

Enlarge (credit: Eric Bangeman)

Subaru customers are well-known for their love of the brand, ranking at or near the top of vehicle manufacturers when it comes to loyalty. But what happens when long-time Subaru drivers outgrow their Outbacks and Foresters? Until this year, they would've needed to jump ship, as Subaru has largely been absent from the world of three-row SUVs. That has changed with the 2019 model year, with the debut of the Subaru Ascent, a three-row SUV that can carry seven or eight passengers.

At 197in (5,003mm) long and 76in (1,930mm) wide, the Ascent is the largest car in Subaru's lineup. And if there's a record for cupholders, Subaru probably owns it now, with 19 sprinkled throughout the car. At first glance, though, the Ascent doesn't necessarily look like it belongs in the Subaru lineup. The Japanese carmaker's station wagons, crossovers, and SUVs have a familiar shape and style. The Ascent, on the other hand, looks more like a generic SUV with a higher hood line than its Subaru siblings. There's the familiar black Subaru grille, trimmed in chrome, with the unmistakeable badge front and center. And the raised roof rails are standard. Aside from those details, however, the Ascent doesn't scream "Subaru" at the same volume as an Outback or Crosstrek.

Built on the same new Subaru Global Platform used in the Crosstrek and Impreza, the Ascent is geared toward comfort and a quiet ride. For the chassis, that means highly stiffened joints between structures and optimized cross sections for better stability, comfort, and agility (to the degree that a seven-passenger SUV can be agile). Subaru is also using acoustic front-door glass and windshield to try and keep road noise to a minimum (more on that below).

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