Skip to main content

Subaru builds vehicles with unique personalities and hardy performance. From flat-4 “boxer” engines to AWD powertrains, these Japanese cars are stout, reliable performers. That’s especially useful in challenging weather. But one Subaru model, the Ascent, is standing out with its complaints to date.

Over the years, the Subaru Outback has been a top seller, with all-conditions traction and everyday utility. And today, the Ascent builds on that with third-row seating and more cargo space for families on the go.

Compared to the rest of the 2023 Subaru lineup, the Ascent has a disproportionate number of complaints. That’s a surprise, considering the company’s reputation for quality and reliability. What’s going on? Let’s take a closer look. 

The 2023 Outback has the most complaints out of any Subaru model

Since its debut in the mid-1990s, the Subaru Outback has been a popular ride. Combining the utility of an SUV with the dynamics of a car, the AWD wagon offers unmatched versatility. That’s made it Subaru’s top seller in 2023, with 135,275 units sold, according to GoodCarBadCar. But the 2023 Outback isn’t perfect.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2023 Subaru Outback has 54 complaints. 

On the NHTSA website, common complaints for the Outback include forward collision avoidance, unknown or other, and visibility/wiper. Owners reported issues like spontaneously cracking windshields, malfunctioning forward collision avoidance systems while driving, and sunroofs that shatter without warning. 

The Subaru Ascent isn’t far behind the 2023 Outback, and that’s a problem

A 2023 Subaru Ascent is driving on a residential street with a house in behind it
2023 Subaru Ascent | Subaru

With over 50,000 units sold in 2023, the Subaru Ascent isn’t as popular as its stablemates. That includes the Outback (more than 130,000 sold), the Crosstrek (more than 128,000 sold), and the Forester (more than 128,000 sold). So, one would think that the Ascent has far fewer complaints than its better-selling siblings. But that isn’t the case.

On the NHTSA website, the Ascent’s 18 complaints trail only the Outback’s 50. Further, the Forester has 18, while the CrossTrek has 10. When you consider the Ascent’s comparatively low sales numbers, its issues point to a vehicle needing additional refinement. 

So, what do Ascent owners complain about most? Common issues include visibility/wiper, service brakes, and wheels. 

Several owners reported cracked windshields, while others noted noisy braking systems. Two owners reported problems with the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). 

The current-gen Ascent debuted for the 2019 model year, so any teething issues should be gone by now. Considering Subaru’s reputation for quality, the Ascent’s numerous complaints are a surprise. 

The 2023 Subaru Forester has 18 complaints so far

With only 18 complaints year to date, the 2023 Forester continues Subaru’s tradition of trustworthy vehicles. Especially considering the model’s healthy sales figures, the Forester’s few issues show it’s a dependable ride. Let’s look at the data.

Across every category, the Forester has no more than five complaints. Reported issues include visibility/wiper, exterior lighting, and structure. No vehicle’s perfect, and the Forester’s no different.

Owner reports included windshields prone to cracking, headlight issues, and a loose door panel.

The 2023 Subaru Ascent has an inordinate amount of complaints compared to the Outback, CrossTrek, and Forester. Why? We can’t be sure. But despite that, the largest Subaru offers third-row seating and extra room for busy families.

Hopefully, the Ascent’s problems are just a flash in the pan for the storied company. After all, the Japanese automaker knows how to make reliable vehicles with all-weather capabilities. Maybe the next-gen version will be a more refined ride.