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The main problem with a Subaru is trying to decide which one to buy. The Japanese automaker has really stepped up its game, and is developing some truly phenomenal SUVs. Two of those that may have potential consumers torn are the Outback and the Ascent.

It’s a hard call. Consumers who bought the 2020 Subaru Outback have found there isn’t really much to complain about, and the Subaru Ascent just might be the three-row crossover families have been waiting for. Let’s check out some of the facts about these two amazing vehicles to see which one might work for you.

Subaru Outback

The Outback has been in the Subaru lineup for a long time now and doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. It tends to perform well under critic scrutiny, and U.S. News was so impressed, they ranked the Outback number 2 in the Wagon division. The Outback starts at $26,645 and tops out at $39,695.

Fully redesigned in 2019, the Outback now has a lot of features that owners want in a new vehicle. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment system can be a bit of a challenge to learn, however.

The standard engine is only so-so, but owners can upgrade to a turbocharged engine that is more than adequate. Another drawback is the fact that Outback only has two rows. That being said, both rows are rather roomy, so no one is going to feel cramped on road trips.

Subaru Ascent

A white Subaru Ascent on display at an auto show
A white Subaru Ascent on display | Paul Marotta/Getty Images

U.S. News wasn’t over the moon about the new Subaru Ascent, and ranked it 13th in the midsize SUV division. It starts at $31,995 and tops out at $45,045.

That being said, there were a lot of great features that U.S. News did like. For example, the Ascent gets a lot of ground clearance. This makes it perfect for anyone of the off-road persuasion. It’s also great for drivers who want to sit up high. 

There are also a lot of features that make it perfect for families. According to U.S. News,

“This versatile three-row SUV is great for busy households. Large crews will be grateful for its standard 19 cup holders, six USB ports (four standard), and available second-row climate controls.”

The Ascent also gets some decent fuel mileage for an SUV. In the city, it gets 21 mpg, and 27 on the highway.

While the Subaru Ascent does indeed have a third row, it’s not exactly the roomiest. If you have small children, the third row might be their own private little paradise. For adults, it could be a nightmare, unless it’s just a short trip into town.

The other area that brought the Ascent’s score down was the predicted reliability. J.D. Power gave it a 79 out of 100. That’s not exactly terrible, but competitors like the 2018 Lincoln Navigator L scored 93 out of 100.

How shall I ever choose?

Choosing between the Outback and Ascent might seem more difficult than it should, so we’ll break it down a little more for you. Keep in mind that this really boils down to what your specific needs are, because both are dependable, great looking vehicles.

If you’re on a budget, the Outback is the better choice. It’s got plenty of standard features, and has a long history of reliability. Many families won’t buy anything but an Outback.

On the other hand, families who feel cramped in a two row vehicle will probably need to go with the three-row Ascent. It also has plenty to offer as far as standard features go, although the predicted reliability score is lower.

The Subaru Ascent is actually cutting into Outback sales, so other drivers clearly think that it’s the better deal. That being said, the Outback does tend to receive higher scores from critics than the Ascent.

The one major difference between the two appears to be how many passengers it can sit, so if you don’t need that extra third row, then the Outback might be the better choice.


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