A Subaru as big as the (Australian) Outback

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(December 8, 2017) Subaru should be thankful that most people interested in its new American made crossover, the Ascent, won’t remember a similarly named, American made SUV sold by another Japanese automaker, the Isuzu Ascender. Then again, Subaru probably is more interested in potential buyers not associating its new large crossover with its old one, the slightly cramped and unfortunately styled Tribeca.

Learning from the past, Subaru has designed a conventional looking crossover with a long (113.8 inch ) wheelbase, 153.5 cubic feet of passenger space, and up to 72.6 cubic feet of cargo volume.

There are three rows of seats, and two passenger carrying capacities — seven or eight, depending on whether the buyer orders a second row bench or two individual seats. In this digital age, there are eight USB ports, and a 120-volt power outlet that is located at the rear of the center console. There are also 19 cupholders. Apparently all that digital work really works up a thirst.

Rather than sticking with the Tribeca’s 3.0-liter and, later, 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer motors, Subaru went for a new 2.4-liter direct-injected, turbocharged flat four mated to a CVT instead of a five-speed automatic. (The CVT has an -eight-speed manual mode accessed via steering wheel-mounted paddles.) Both, however, use Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.

The Ascent also has Trailer Stability Assist, which can brake individual wheels in order to stabilize the vehicle and trailer. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

On the safety front, the Ascent comes standard with Subaru’s Eye Sight technology (a pair of forward looking cameras located behind the interior rearview mirror) that feeds information to the Automatic Emergency Braking system, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Sway Warning, and Pre-Collision Throttle Management systems. Blind Spot detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert also is available, as is Reverse Automatic Braking that applies the brakes if an obstacle is encountered while reversing.

The top level Touring trim receives a standard front view monitor that uses a camera located in the grille to display a 180-degree view of the front of the vehicle, as well as a smart rearview mirror that uses a camera located above the rear glass to display the view behind the Ascent when activated. It’s designed to provide unimpeded visibility even should the cargo area be loaded to the roof.

The Ascent will be built alongside the Outback, Impreza and Legacy at a plant Subaru once shared with Isuzu in Lafayette, Ind. And while the Isuzu Ascender was never built there, this plant was the former home of the under-appreciated Tribeca.

The Virtual Driver