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2019 Subaru Ascent Poised to Rise to the Top of Three-Row SUV Class

CARS.COM

Competes with: Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe

Looks like: A taller Outback with a third row

Drivetrain: 260-horsepower, turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine; CVT; all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Summer 2018

Subaru’s last three-row SUV, the Tribeca, was a flop and today at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show the automaker revealed the SUV’s spiritual successor, the 2019 Ascent, which will be both bigger and more family-friendly than its predecessor.

Related: More 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show Coverage

Subaru calls the all-new Ascent “mobile headquarters for the entire family,” and that’s not much of a stretch. The new three-row SUV is loaded with comfort, convenience and safety features.

Exterior

Subaru unveiled the Ascent in concept form in April at the 2017 New York International Auto Show, and the automaker didn’t stray much in the transition to the production version. The 2019 Ascent wears similar C-shaped headlights and a toned-down version of the concept’s large hexagonal grille along with large inlets underneath the headlights and rugged-looking body cladding. The overall look is reminiscent of the Outback, though there’s no mistaking the Ascent for a wagon. It’s all SUV with a tall, wide stance and long profile. 

Interior

Base, Premium, Limited and Touring trims will be available in seven- or eight-passenger configurations. A second-row bench is standard on base models, but second-row captain’s chairs are available as a no-cost option on all other trims.

Standard on Ascent base models is the latest version of Subaru’s 6.5-inch multimedia system; higher trims use an 8-inch system. Both versions are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

Convenience features abound in all three rows. For the first time in a Subaru, the Ascent offers available 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity and charging ports galore. There’s a total of eight available USB ports peppered throughout the cabin as well as a 120-volt power outlet in back of the center console.

Other family-friendly cabin standards include 19 cupholders and bottleholders, tri-zone automatic climate control with large air vents for all three rows, and second-row reading lights; third-row reading lights are standard on Premium, Limited and Touring trims.

Under the Hood

Powering the Ascent is a new 260-horsepower, turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an updated version of Subaru’s continuously variable automatic transmission. The new CVT features an eight-speed manual mode with steering-wheel paddle shifters.

All-wheel drive is standard, and like other Subaru SUVs, it comes with hill descent control and X-Mode, which can be activated below 13 mph to adjust engine, all-wheel drive, transmission and stability control behavior based on the terrain.

Safety

Standard across the trim lineup is Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver safety and assistance system. They include automatic precollision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, precollision throttle management and a new EyeSight Assist Monitor, a head-up display of the EyeSight system’s warnings. Available safety features include blind spot detection with lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive headlights and high-beam assist, which automatically activates and deactivates the high beams. Lastly, Reverse automatic braking, which will apply the brakes if an obstacle is detected while in Reverse, is also optional. 

Top-line Touring models get the new wide-angle camera system; it displays a 180-degree view of the vehicle by using a camera located in the front grille. Also standard on the Touring trim is the smart rear view mirror. It uses a rear-window-mounted camera to display a rearward view in the rearview mirror. Like Cadillac’s system, it can be activated or deactivated with the push of a button.

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