NYIAS 2017: Subaru Goes Big - Real Big - With the Ascent

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nyias 2017 subaru goes big real big with the ascent

The Subaru Ascent concept SUV unveiled today at the New York International Auto Show heralds a very real vehicle with similar proportions, styling, and name.

While the model’s name aptly describes the automaker’s sales performance, the Subaru brand hasn’t fielded a large-ish utility vehicle since the slow-selling, second-generation Tribeca disappeared after 2014. With the Ascent, due to appear in production form in 2018, the brand delivers a three-row, seven-passenger vehicle with a wheelbase that’s longer than a Chevrolet Tahoe.

Incorporating massive fender bulges and a towering, blunt grille flanked by C-shaped corporate running lights, this vehicle represents a stark contrast to the Outbacks and Crosstreks so beloved by the buying public. It also gives Subaru its best chance to muscle into the fertile midsize CUV/SUV segment.

Scheduled to be built at the brand’s Lafeyette, Indiana assembly plant, the Ascent boasts 117 inches of wheelbase and a new, unspecified turbocharged Boxer engine. Expect that mill to displace 2.4 liters. Underneath, you’ll find a modified (read: stretched) version of the Subaru Global Platform.

Inside, Subaru has opted for the executive ambiance of having two second row seats separated by a wood-trimmed console, leaving the three-person bench in the rear. Much of the gee-whiz gadgets found inside this concept won’t see the light of day in a dealer lot, however. The touchscreens that serve as window switches will surely never appear in a production vehicle.

Since 2011, Subaru’s U.S. sales have risen from 266,989 units to 615,132 recorded last year. Building a larger utility model, especially one that doesn’t offend the senses (like the first-gen Tribeca), could open new sales doors.

[Image: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

Join the conversation
2 of 51 comments
  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Apr 14, 2017

    CVT and only a 2.4L turbo inside will have another underpower Subaru crossover! Wait, maybe they do both supercharge as well as turbocharge engine! But very much doubt it since they could use the WRX engine too but the management wants to keep high performance engines away from there crossovers line!

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Apr 17, 2017


  • Kcflyer Leave it alone except interior and exterior color options. Add custom colors for a price and watch the orders come in. Pulled our hair out last year trying to figure out how a dealer in California had a GT in dark blue that Mazda says isn't possible. I've decided it must have been a Canadian order that got redirected. Could someone please explain why Canadian dealers can order a GT in dark blue, U.S. dealers can order a Club in that color, but not a GT. Soooo, stupid. British racing green, purple, stop making 5 shades of silver/grey. It's a fun car, should have fun colors. Don't tie interior colors to exterior choice. Charge extra but let people order what they like.
  • SCE to AUX I like the concept, but $6k just gets you started. I'd have to outsource the bodywork, which is a real problem on a project like this.Still, the result would be a fun vehicle that reflects what many people want today - a small unbloated utility truck.
  • TheDoctorIsOut Try and keep it as light and focused as it always has been and as analog as possible. For those who can appreciate it (and fit into it) there’s still something special about a car that can be driven at 90% of its potential for most of the daily drive.
  • SCE to AUX Let it die with dignity - no electrification. That would kill the spirit of the original.Mazda needs to think about survival and market share, not tinker with a niche car with waning sales, or dying on Wankel Hill.Maybe their body and paint engineers could help Tesla once Mazda folds.
  • Lou_BC H-E-L-L-C-A-T