CARS.COM — Subaru is hoping to raise its SUV game with the Ascent concept, making its world debut at the 2017 New York International Auto Show. The three-row, seven-passenger, full-size SUV features an all-new turbocharged, direct-injected engine, which the automaker promises will carry over to a production model set for a North American-exclusive launch in 2018. The production version will take the slot of the defunct three-row Tribeca SUV in Subaru's lineup; the Tribeca ceased production in 2014.
The Ascent also boasts unambiguous SUV styling — unlike its lineup siblings-to-be, the Crosstrek and Outback, which are essentially wagons with SUV aspirations. The Ascent's closest family resemblance in terms of looks is with the Forester, though it takes on a far more muscular shape and trucklike front end — plus it's a helluva lot bigger.
The concept measures 198.8 inches in length, 78.3 inches in width and 72.4 inches in height, with a 117-inch wheelbase. That's more than 17 inches longer, 7.6 inches wider and 6 inches taller, with a 13.1-inch longer wheelbase compared with the 2017 Forester.
A large "bluff" grille dominates the Ascent's face, along with large inlets underneath the headlights and aggressive lower-body elements. Deep contours and flared fenders imbue the Ascent's profile with power, which Subaru says represents the ute's all-wheel-drive system.
Inside the cabin, the driver and front-seat occupant will face a clean, flowing dashboard with an expansive glowing display in the center stack — futuristic, but with highly welcome real knobs for climate and radio controls — as well as a digital gauge cluster behind the steering wheel. The two-tone brown and cream leather-like upholstery features perforated seats and contrast stitching on the dash, door sills and center console, in addition to abundant metal trim throughout and what look to be sport pedals. Captain's chairs accommodate second-row passengers, while a bench seat holds three in the third row.
Will the Ascent rise to the occasion of being a real, honest-to-goodness Subaru SUV? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, stay tuned for Cars.com's full coverage straight from the floor of the New York auto show — where we'll also be checking out the 2018 versions of the Crosstrek and Outback.