When Subaru canceled its underwhelming Tribeca three-row SUV after the 2014 model year, larger families had to cross the brand off their vehicle shopping list. However, a new large SUV has joined its lineup, and fans of the Subaru Outback wagon should find a lot to love about the 2019 Subaru Ascent. The three-row SUV offers the comfort and utility of the Outback wagon plus SUV-versatility: an extra row of seats and additional family-friendly amenities. The all-wheel-drive Subaru Ascent seats seven or eight on captain’s chairs or a second-row bench; we tested a captain’s-chair model with leather seats and found its second row very accommodating for car seats. The Subaru Ascent’s third row needs work, though.
How many car seats fit in the second row? Two
How many car seats fit in the third row? Two
Related: More Car Seat Checks
- Latch, grade A: In the vehicle’s second row, the two sets are exposed once you peel back Velcro flaps in the leather. They’re easy to find and use, and the seats recline for even better access. There’s two top tether anchors midway down the seatback; they’re clearly marked for easy connection.
- Infant, grade A: This seat went in easily and fit well. The 5-foot-6-inch-tall front passenger had plenty of legroom.
- Rear-facing convertible, grade A: Again, this seat was no trouble to install and legroom was not an issue for the front passenger.
- Forward-facing convertible, grade A: After removing the Subaru Ascent’s head restraint, the convertible in forward mode fit well. We had no trouble connecting to the top tether anchor.
- Booster, grade A: After raising the Subaru’s head restraint, the booster fit well on the large, lightly bolstered seat. Tall, relatively rigid buckle stalks should make it easy for kids to buckle up independently.
- Third-row access, grade B: The second-row seats slide forward with ease and the resulting opening is large enough, but the Ascent’s step-in height is on the tall side.
- Third-row Latch, grade B: There’s one set of lower Latch anchors in the vehicle’s third row, on the driver’s side. They’re exposed for easy connection, but there’s not a lot of room in the third row, so they’re crowded between two buckles and access is awkward. There are three top tether anchors with lots of clearance for an easy connection.
- Third-row forward-facing convertible, grade B: We installed this seat using the lower Latch anchors, but you can also use the seat belt. After removing the Subaru Ascent’s head restraint, the seat fit well, but the awkward Latch position meant we had to push the adjacent buckles into the upholstery and install the convertible on top of the seatbelt’s buckles. The process was somewhat cumbersome and prevents the buckles from being used for the middle position.
- Third-row booster, grade B: Again, we removed the Subaru’s head restraint to get a good fit. Since third-row room is tight, however, the booster partially sat on top of the belt’s buckle, complicating connection with the buckle. The Subaru Ascent’s buckle is on a stable belt stalk, though, making it easier for kids to grab.
Solid indicates an A grade for optimum ease of use and fit. So-So indicates B or C grades for one to two ease-of-use or fit issues. Skip It indicates D or F grades.
A: Plenty of room for the car seat and the child; doesn’t impact driver or front-passenger legroom. Easy to find and connect to Latch and tether anchors. No fit issues involving head restraint or seat contouring. Easy access to the third row.
B: One room, fit or connection issue. Some problems accessing third row when available.
C: Marginal room plus one fit or connection issue. Difficult to access third row when available.
D: Insufficient room, plus multiple fit or connection issues.
F: Does not fit or is unsafe.
About Cars.com’s Car Seat Checks
Editors Jennifer Geiger, Jennifer Newman and Matt Schmitz are certified child safety seat installation technicians.
For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 infant-safety seat, a Britax Marathon convertible seat and Graco TurboBooster seat. The front seats are adjusted for a 6-foot driver and a shorter passenger. The three child seats are installed in the second row. The booster seat sits behind the driver’s seat, and the infant and convertible seats are installed behind the front passenger seat.
We also install the forward-facing convertible in the second row’s middle seat with the booster and infant seat in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit; a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. If there’s a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible. Learn more about how we conduct our Car Seat Checks.
Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat, and that Latch anchors have a weight limit of 65 pounds, including the weight of the child and the weight of the seat itself.
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