By on May 23, 2018

Subaru Ascent

Given my review of this machine earlier this week, today’s selection shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Not only is it fresh in my increasingly cluttered brain, but I truly do believe the base Ascent represents a good value for money.

So long as you don’t want to tow anything, that is.

That’s my sole beef of mention with the base Ascent. In a bid to limbo under the $32,000 price bar, the Exploding Galaxy binned the car’s auxiliary oil and transmission coolers. This lowers the base Ascent’s maximum tow rating to 2,000 pounds, while its burlier brothers can shoulder a 5,000 pound load.

If your “active lifestyle” doesn’t involve shuttling a dirt bike strapped to a utility trailer or a lightweight camper, however, the base Ascent has a lot to offer. All-wheel drive is standard, because Subaru — a claim not made by many of its direct competitors. We live in a world where one can now sign the note on a front-drive Explorer or Pathfinder, models which this author fondly remembers as rear-drive machines.

Eight people can hit the road in a base Ascent if the owner chooses to deploy the 2-3-3 configuration of seats. The third row is habitable by actual humans, but those extra-long of leg may find themselves eating their knees if they’re back there all day, given the stepped floor that makes way for all-wheel drive gear under the car. Row #2 is completely habitable by all hands on the height spectrum.

Those finding themselves in that row will, thanks to the wonderful world of economies of scale and supply chains, enjoy a zone of climate all to themselves. Tri-zone climate control used to be the stuff of megabuck crossovers and sedans and to find it on a base model is fantastic (at least one of Ascent’s competitors has tri-zone on its base model as well, a vehicle whose name starts with “path” and ends in “finder”).

Most gearheads turn up their nose at safety nannies like those bundled in Subaru’s suite of safety systems, branded under the EyeSight banner. However, a great swath of the driving public (including gearheads) could stand to have a bit of help in the attention-span department, so to have a brace of cameras peering ahead and providing Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision Braking, Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Keep Assist is a benefit for many people on the road. Don’t like it? Then it’s easy to turn all those things off, albeit every time you twist the key.

I remain satisfied with the Ascent’s 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer-four, an engine which spans all four trims and proves the only thing holding a base Ascent from hauling 5,000 lbs is the lack of auxiliary coolers.

Four USB ports pepper the interior, more than I’ve found in the entire waiting area of Gate 55 at Toronto-Pearson International Airport. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake, while all hands will stay hydrated with 19 cupholders. Gimmick? Anyone who thinks so mustn’t have small kids, as cupholders are essential items often filled with stuff like those beach rocks to which Junior has developed an inexplicable bond or a sullen teen’s iPod full of brooding music. A few extra for, y’know, actual cups won’t go astray.

And according to Subaru folks, the roof rails are stout enough to bear the weight of a snazzy rooftop tent. Hey, with that sleeping option, maybe hauling a small camper isn’t so important after all.

[Image: Subaru]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars absent of any rebates or destination fees. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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51 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Subaru Ascent...”


  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Drove the Only model in Utah last night. The one I drove was the Limited and had probably one of the most comfortable fronts seats I’ve sat in over the last 34 years of driving. Visibility was excellent as was just about everything else in the car. I drove a new Honda Pilot a few months and it had almost no steering feel. This wasn’t the case in the Ascent. Much nicer steering and overall ergonomic layout for all passengers.
    This dealer was taking orders for late October.

    I wouldn’t even consider any model lower than a Premium. Oil and transmission cooler is standard on premium models and up.

    • 0 avatar
      make_light

      I crossed an Impreza Sport hatchback off my list this spring because of the short, hard front seats. I’m glad Subaru finally learned how to make a comfy seat, but it should have happened with the redesigned Impreza/Crosstrek. Most Subaru seats from this decade have been lousy.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        I had one of the new Global Platform Imprezas for five days as a loaner last summer. You’re dead right about the crap seat. A lightly upholstered log.

        If you’d bought one, you would next have learned about the wandering all over the highway unable to drive in a straight line on a calm day characteristic. It’s a beaut! Then the oversteer on bumpy corners taken at a good clip. Sphincter tightening. But Eyesight almost won me over, to robot aids that is, and you need them with this overweight little underpowered CVT droning freak.

        The new Impreza was a load of old rope, not a patch on my old ’99 for straight line stability or seats. That car used to make me chortle as I booted it along. After 9 years it made me happy to buy a new Subaru. The new one – I checked and reset the tires (wildly overinflated at 42 psi, thankyou PDI, but no help), and decided, no, it’s really not a very good car. But what Subaru is these days? This urban assault Ascent hippo barge? Unlikely.

        Along with at least two other commenters here, I cling to my old LGT, a real car. Not a trundling bumbler.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    That is o e ugly f**king a$$ vehicle.

    It looks like a sh*t that I took the other night.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Just be sure to always park it next to a Lexus and it’ll look much better.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        This is a B!TCH that NEEDS to be P!TCHED LOUDLY.

        Vehicles, this one included, and especially of the dour crossover variety, are becoming LUMPY, HIDEOUSLY UGLY, INCONGRUOUS EYESORES.

        The automotive stylists, especially when it comes to CUVs, big, medium and small, are playing mindf*ck games with us.

        • 0 avatar
          burnbomber

          It could use a bit more chrome trim in the side and front profile, and be in another color than shades of grey.

          Whenever I see a big box hatchback, I always think of them as an original Golf or Accord on steroids. Original Golf/Accord scale times 2 (or even 3).

          This type vehicle is taking over the market; be it good or bad you can’t stop it by any legal means.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Not sure if anyone else will get this reference, but DeadWeight’s mannerism and ALL CAPS remind me of the “CRESCENDO” of Elliot Offen, frequent wackpacker guest on the Howard Stern Show circa ’00-’06. Feel free to google it, most definitely NSFW.

        • 0 avatar
          "scarey"

          In the EYE of the beholder. I think that it is good looking. But then I like this sort of vehicle. Most of the competition’s styling is BUSY to say the least.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      They have to be ugly, or else folks would mistake them for minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      It looks like a Chinese brand copy of something else that was already ugly.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        Kinda looks like an Outback banged a CR-V to me.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Now that’s bumping uglies!

          To be fair, the Ascent doesn’t look too bad in most of the Google images. That may be the worst image of the vehicle in existence. I’d never heard of the Ascent before today and I’ve never noticed one in the streets. I probably never will. It will just be another generic passenger hatchback appliance vehicle among a sea of them.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Good value or not, I freely admit I have a bad attitude about the Ascent, given that’s probably a big reason why one won’t be able to buy a turbocharged Forester beginning wih the 2019 model year.

    I’ve been a fan of Subarus, historically, and even own a Forester right now. I had two Imprezas before that. But Subaru of America seems very shortsighted about things. They also seem to be chasing me away with a big stick. Underpowered two-liter engines in the Impreza and Crosstrek. No more turbos in Foresters. Eyesight standard even in base models. There are even rumors that manuals are going away in order to accomodate Eyesight – something I don’t want to begin with.

    Subaru is chasing the frightened motorist crowd these days with all its emphasis on safety and boring vehicles. They’re clearly no longer building cars for me.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      Great. Bye. Let me know how Toyota works out for you.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      The first time EyeSight saves your arse (and it will), you will change your tune.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        Gee, I guess you’re right. Oh wait, how on earth have I survived as a driver for over 40 years without Eyesight? Sounds like a modern Subaru is perfect for you, though. Enjoy.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Clearly you need to follow other vehicles more closely. Maybe do it while texting to increase productivity. Stop looking far enough ahead to predict traffic behaviors and potential hazards, and stop devoting so much attention to the vehicles in your mirrors. The competing vehicles behind are nothing more than a distraction. As long as you stay close enough to the vehicle ahead, they can’t get in there and win. That’s all you need to know about them.

          You’ll want to closely pace any vehicle you approach from behind so you don’t have to use any brainpower to determine your own speed. Focus on the bumper directly in front of you whenever you look up, and allow that vehicle’s actions to determine all your physical inputs. Join the herd and free your mind to concentrate on more important things, like social media. You can even multitask to save valuable time by doing things like shaving and eating your meals while driving.

          Hopefully you’ll escape with nothing more than a few close calls that will make you realize how useful these features can be. But if you do crash, that’s alright too. It’s just an accident. You just had bad luck that day. Consider it a learning experience to teach you that you need more safety features.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I’ve survived for a long time without ABS or traction control.

          Yet I don’t view wanting either as a bad or cowardly thing, and even if I *could* get a car without ABS, I wouldn’t.

          (If you’ve been driving for over 40 years, you’re presumably nearing 60.

          How’s that night vision? Ever have trouble seeing things as well as when you were 20?

          Wouldn’t it be *great* to have a camera that might see an idiot dark-wearing pedestrian jaywalking in front of you at night, before you did?

          I’m in my mid-40s, and I’ll take all the help I can get with my fellow stupid monkeys in bad conditions.)

        • 0 avatar
          SSJeep

          Steve, obviously you are old and bitter. Safety systems like EyeSight are perfect for aging drivers and do indeed help mitigate accidents. You should consider some sort of impact prevention system for your next vehicle. As for a Subaru, no, I have two Jeeps as daily drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Eye sight is over rated.

        https://www.ridesafely.com/en/salvage-car-auction-subaru-outback-2017/bid/1804241687?secid=0&trc=355&q=outback&isct=2&vtdesc=auto

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          I checked out the pictures at your link pretty closely, Norm. The vehicle pictured doesn’t appear to have the EyeSight system/cameras installed. Nice try, though.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Yeah, some negative ninny said at work he didn’t want eye sight. Made fun of the the Subaru’s with eye sight. Yeah he rear ended someone last month. Bahhaha

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Yeah, some negative ninny said at work he didn’t want eye sight. Made fun of the the Subaru’s with eye sight. Yeah he rear ended someone last month. Bahhaha

  • avatar
    St.George

    Seems like a good, solid option, I like it.

    Our base Pathfinder was $25k (in 2015), it does exactly what it has to quietly & comfortably but there is little driving joy. If the Ascent has a little more character & verve, it could be a contender!

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      With such big incentives on the Pathfinder it could be hard to take the Ascent over a new Pathfinder. Actually very similar vehicles, the Ascent Limited does have some fantastic front seats.

  • avatar
    mic

    One could also install their own coolers for much less. I have a base ’05 Highlander and put my own coolers and a HD radiator to tow up to 3k for a few hundred bucks. (I sold the trailer and bought a class B Sportsmobile Lol)

  • avatar
    gtem

    Hmm heated seats and extra cooling for the (likely overworked) CVT would make me jump right to the Premium. If the CVT takes a crap on a base model and you go to the dealer for a warranty claim and they see an aftermarket ATF cooler, good luck.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    There was a line of generic groceries that came out in the late ‘70s, if my memory serves me, that featured, well, generic labels. “Beer”, “Potato Chips”, “Instant Coffee”, etc. was printed in black, usually on a tan package. That’s what this vehicle needs, a plain tan window sticker that reads only “SUV”. What a vapid, uninspired, ugly POS. Good grief. Even by Subaru design standards this thing is hideous. I’m gonna hurl.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      See, this sort of thing is when I wonder what other people even think about “cars” and aesthetics, and how any of it works.

      Is the problem that it’s not an overstyled Mazda or bugeyed Toyota?

      Seriously?

      (I can sort of understand “uninspired”, in that it *looks like a Subaru*, and a consistent design language is So Last Century.

      And I guess that might be “boring”, too. Maybe it needs portholes?)

      • 0 avatar
        Kek

        “Sigivald”
        “Is the problem that it’s not an overstyled Mazda or bugeyed Toyota?”

        — Thats part of the problem. The other part is the soul sucking CVT. I keep hearing folks bang about Mazda bringing their AWD cars being sold in Europe and Japan to USA – cause the only eco option for decent AWD is a Mitsubishi or a Nissan Altima – which are not at all decent.

        I have driven a 15 subaru forester – the interior refinement is that of a Porta John. I kid you not – if your legs do a shaky shaky at a traffic stop and your CVT goes from being Usain Bolt for the first 5mph and then turns in Jack Black and finally wakes up to be Bolt again – yeah that non linear acceleration is pretty crap too.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      In Canada we have a in-house store brand called No Name (Sans Nom in French). All the packaging is plain yellow. All these pseudo-SUV’s should be painted yellow with a No Name badge on it.

      Come on people, just buy a minivan already. You aren’t cool regardless of what you drive.

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    But did it come with the ridiculous “1st Subaru” sticker kit? The one that comes with the “1st” circular emblem and then all of the curved emblems that reflect what I did in my Subaru? You know, the ones that show musical notes for a rock concert, hiking symbols to show that I drove my Subaru to a hike, and the camera to show I took pictures while driving my Subaru?

    Id also need the dogs paw sticker, you know, to show the world that I have “fur babies”. Id also like the family sticker since I reproduced, and the “love” sticker because love trumps hate!!!

    It is really important to me that I have these stickers because everyone needs to know what I do in my Subaru. And I want to know what everyone else does in their Subaru. Without the emblems, its just not an Ace of Base….

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Geez, even our little Disco Sport can tow 4400lbs or so. I made sure of that when researching vehicles, just in case my 3 y/o is ever interested in carting-I know Dad is…

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Another tall boxy eyesore to pollute the highways. Yes we are in another automotive Malaise era, especially when it comes to styling, lack of color and boring shapes.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “If your “active lifestyle” doesn’t involve shuttling a dirt bike strapped to a utility trailer ”

    Pretty sure a utility trailer and dirt bike will fit in 1,500#, leaving a decent margin.

    Camper trailer, not so much, no.

    (Alternatively, spend a few hundred on an aftermarket cooler, I guess.

    Or go up a trim level, natch.

    Doesn’t seem like a dealbreaker on a base model.)

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I bet most Subbie owners aren’t towing anything. Neither are most unibody SUV owners regardless of brand. The only exception maybe Jeep. Subbie owners just want to know how many dogs can fit in the back. An option to replace the 3rd row with a doggie bed would be an instant hit.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree. I like animals but the dog obsession of late is so annoying.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I don’t refer to my dogs as “fur babies” and I don’t see them as human progeny replacement but I do own two larger ones, and keeping the pooches content on long drives makes a HUGE difference to my own sanity. The roll down rear window on the 4Runner is a godsend in this regard, keeps them from feeling too cooped up.

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            Hah! My old boxer would prop up on the seat beside me in my ’90 Cheyenne with his face in the A/C vents blowing on high. He’d stare out the windshield with all that air velocity flowing around his muzzle thinking, “Man, I’m really, really running fast today.”

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Well, it’s basically innocuous, I just will not notice it on the road. It’s not ugly like the B9 Tribeca, which helped make TTAC’s reputation.

  • avatar
    incautious

    Just be sure to always park it next to a Lexus and it’ll look much better

    hahahahahaah

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    This looks like one of those unbranded, generic vehicles that they use on the packaging of Pep Boys accessories.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    History is cyclical… Welcome to 1976.

  • avatar
    ddr777

    This car is not only ugly, it also slow like any other Subaru sold in the US.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    Nice minivan.

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