By on April 12, 2017

[Image: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

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.

[Image: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

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.

[Image: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

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]

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51 Comments on “NYIAS 2017: Subaru Goes Big – Real Big – With the Ascent...”


  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I love my Outback, and the Ascent looks decent enough. The turbo 4 should handle it. I still like the VW Atlas’ design better….

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      Never underestimate Subaru’s ability to get as little power out of an engine as possible. The BEST thing they could do would be to stuff a 3.5L Toyota V6 under the hood and call it a day. Probably not gonna happen.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Apparently the Atlas (and the new Tiguan) gets a 6 year/72,000 mile Bumper-to-Bumper warranty too:

      http://www.carscoops.com/2017/04/vw-to-give-2018-atlas-tiguan-six-year.html

  • avatar
    FBS

    That’s the biggest flying vagina I’ve ever seen.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    More greenhouse paying for slab-face.

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    It looks like an Outback mated with a Ford Explorer. Something isn’t right. It looks like Subaru captured a Nissan designer and forced him to make a bloated Outback at gun point.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Has the betting begun on the Ascent vs. Atlas sales race? I suspect the ascent will be supply constrained, so maybe vw could actually outsell Subaru in something.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    They should have had a couple of models under four feet tall posing next to it to mess with people.

  • avatar
    BartBandy

    Forget flying vaginas – now we have Ass-scent!

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Subaru finally cares about styling! (Proceeds to rip-off the GMC Terrain and call it a day).

  • avatar
    RHD

    Why does that face remind me so much of the Cowardly Lion?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    OK, wasn’t there just a story about Subaru at long last caring about styling?

    I gather Subaru didn’t read the story.

  • avatar
    probert

    Is it possible to sue for bad car styling. They’ll be littering the streetscape for years to come – that must violate something.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    I’d like one, without the 3rd row.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I had decided on the Tribeca as my top choice before I test drove it during my last purchase cycle. It was too cramped, and just didn’t really seem to fit my needs. It felt sluggish while empty. My current third row is a little cramped (say if you are over 5 1/2 feet tall), but it’s WAY better than what the Tribeca offered.

    If this thing or something like it had existed then, Subaru might have gotten the sale.

    As long as its not a the turbo 4, but the flat 6, I’d be interested.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    You had me up until “Boxer”.

    But it looks Subaru-ish enough to sell gazillions. Because love.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I like the way it looks but seriously, 2.4 ltr flat 4?

    Heck put two of them together and make a 4.8 ltr flat 8! This SOB needs 300 hp to be competitive.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Huh, “one that doesn’t offend the senses”? That front end befits the blue oval logo nicely. Generic US-friendly “look how huuge I am” styling. Nothing Subaru-ish about it. Yawn.

    Also, does Subaru really need to sell its soul like this? I understand they’re doing well as is. VWoA is desperate for new customers, having pissed off so many old ones, so I can sort of understand the Atlas (and I can also sort of stand the way it looks); but does literally everyone but Ferrari need to compete in the behemoth-SUV-for-Americans-with-compensation-issues category? Sheesh.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Volvo gets a lot of horsepower out of their four pots. I suspect Subaru will do something similar.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Does Subaru’s target customer demographic know that Subaru advertises on FOX?

  • avatar
    tedward

    Wow, that looks a bit like the Atlas from the side.

    We gonna have a name that grill contest or what? Gotta keep pr on their toes, I don’t think you guys have pissed any of them off since the early tdi coverage. There’s standards to maintain man.

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    What a design mess :=(
    It will be an oil burner with out being a diesel :=)

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I hope they choke on this behemoth. A totally ridiculous vehicle in this day and age.

    Subaru will, of course find buyers and make some money, but if gas prices suddenly spike upward and we wind up paying $3-4.00/gallon again, those owners will be crying in their beer.

    There is ONE upside if and when that happens: TTAC’ers can pick them up used for a song!

    • 0 avatar
      phila_DLJ

      “…but if gas prices suddenly spike upward and we wind up paying $3-4.00/gallon again…”

      That applies to EVERY automaker right now. Why single out Subaru?

      All the other big players sell big rigs like this. I am sure one of the few reasons a potential Subaru customer leaves the dealership empty-handed is because they don’t have anything “big enough.” This will finally solve that.

      Subie and VW may be very, very, very late to the game, but better late than never.

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      I am not sure why people always repeat this trope.

      I’m already paying over $3.20/gallon for premium fuel for my 20mpg on the highway way 7-seater. This is slightly less than a $1.00 increase over two years ago.

      My total increase in fuel spending over two cars over those two years is a little less than $1800 combined.

      Or about $8.00 a week.

      This is, by far, the least worrisome of operating costs for drivers, assuming that they don’t have a sudden change in driving patterns.

      Do you really think that most drivers, who drive 87-octane vehicles, in places where gas is cheaper than where I am, are cutting it so close to the bone that a 40-60 cent per gallon increase in the national average will freak them out? Especially if they own the vehicle free and clear?

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Holy halupki! Look! There’s more rake on this whale’s A-pillar than on the Mazda 6 in the article above it.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    The styling is much too heavy and bloated IMO, perhaps there is simply no way to hide a massive front end like that (driven by safety goals no doubt). They’re on the money for making a larger three-row vehicle, I was thinking something more van-like with emphasis on interior room (while still nominally marketing as CUV) would appeal to Subaru’s pragmatic and value-conscious base.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I find this significantly less offensive than the first Unibody Explorer and its Pathfinder look-a-like. Be damned if after the refresh, they still look one is the Celebrity and the other is the Cut Ciera. Seriously, what is up with those two?

      Evidently it works. I do like the Atlas most of the 3-row-crossovers-I’ll-never-buy list, styling wise. The Durango is attractive enough, and I trust its setup more, but…

      A used Flex would do.

      Back to this new Hyundai/Ford grill’ed Subaru, I’m sure Seattle and Portland will be flooded with them. I have a feeling its ultimate compromise will be its engine and trans performance, both in terms of power and durability/reliability.

      Being this is the company that says it’s 200 up sports coupe is good enough. Which, it is, to me and as a base model, whereas the Turbo model brings it home for people who want more.

      Maybe they’re afraid of starting a war they can’t win? If they want to grow beyond their niche status, which is nothing but them getting the big head after such an amazing sales increase, they need to not only go big, they need to leave their traditional “because Subaru” compromises behind.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m not sure what I’m looking it, but it’s hideous. Subaru will have people lined up to buy the under-powered behemoth.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I know that Subaru can squeeze a lot of HP out of a turbo 4 mil.

    My last and only Subaru was a bought new 02′ wrx that I had for 9 months or so. It was junk, probably a Friday car or something. Regardless.

    In order to bring out the full force of the 250 HP in the turbo 4 don’t you need to have the turbo spooled up to produce the flow? As a Suburban driver, what is needed to move these behemoths is low end torque, not so much high rpm HP. Kind of hard and/or dangerous to play boy racer in your 3 row SUV. I would love some input on this, but it would seem to me in order to make this rig move you would have to be in the boost all the time, which in turn is going to deliver some rotten MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      ACCvsBig10

      250hp On premium gas, people with low- mid price suvs/cuvs dont want to pay premium gas prices as they start creeping over $3 dollars again. They want to be able to use good ole 87 octane and have their hp and torque too.

      Needs a 280hp flat 6 that runs on 87.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I’ve decided I don’t like the styling. If you forced me to pick this or the Atlas, I think I’d end up at VW. The 3.6 is more proven, and the blocky styling is better than whatever they were going for here.

    And there aren’t many comparisons which put me in that brand.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “The 3.6 is more proven”

      More proven to chew through timing chains maybe! :p

      Certainly Subaru’s turbo engines (and engines in general) have been a mixed bag to say the least, but VAG’s newer engines are no paragons of reliability either. I echo the sentiment expressed earlier in the comments, drop in a Toyota 2GR 3.5L and call it a day.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        Well we all know they won’t just do that, because it would be A) too easy and B) not Subaru.

        Brand new Subaru engine designs scare me. It always takes them 5+ model years to sort their “oops, about that” issues out.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          The gen 1 EJ20 WRX turbo motor is generally regarded as rock solid, as is the SOHC EJ22. Then again they had time back in the home market to sort the WRX motor out for a number of years. My brother’s good friend thrashed and neglected a ’03 WRX to 210k before oil starvation from another deferred 10k Jiffy Lube oil change finally caught up to him and a connecting rod punched a hole in the block. The guy liked the car enough to pay my brother to swap in a good used motor (to the tune of $4kish all in with motor,labor, new clutch, belts, wear items etc)

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I think my 97 Impreza L Wagon had the EJ22? I specifically didn’t pick a 2.5 in anything from that time period because of the HG issues.

            Now it needed all new CV boots, so that was a bit smoky. But other than that didn’t have any issues in the short time I owned it. It had many dents from the old man owner, but not rust. And something like 80k miles.

            Had people banging down the door to buy it when it came time to sell.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yep Imprezas had either the 1.8L in low trims, but more commonly the EA22. Not unheard of for them to go 300k miles without any headgasket issues or overly excessive oil consumption.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Shares a lot of the VW Atlas’ styling cues and wraps them in an uglier package.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Does my wheelbase longer than a Tahoe, make me a Suburbanaru?

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Why can’t they just plug in a WRX engine inside the Ascent?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Because it would be less powerful than the one they’re planning on using. The 2.4L turbo in the Ascent will be a bored-out version of the 2.0L turbo in the WRX.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    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!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Yuck!

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