Crossover & Midsize

How Reliable Is the Subaru Ascent?

After a lackluster performance by their original crossover effort, the Tribeca, Subaru’s second family crossover was successfully released in 2019. The 2019 Subaru Ascent impressed reviewers as one of the safest models on the market, and the 2020 model has received a solid score of 8 out of 10 from U.S. News for overall performance.

Unfortunately, Subaru issued numerous recalls on its 2019 model due to significant problems with the drivetrain and exhaust systems. Following these and recalls for several other models, Subaru has faced the criticism head-on and declared its dedication to improving the quality of production processes. With its rocky history, how does the Subaru Ascent stand when it comes to reliability?

Reliability ratings

Given the Subaru Ascent’s issues in its first year of production and overall production quality issues, it comes as no surprise that Consumer Reports has given the 2020 model a reliability rating of only 3/5. While there is room for improvement, this is on par with other Subaru models within the same time frame.

The 2019 Ascent also received a 3/5 as did the more popular 2019 and 2020 Forester models. The 2020 Subaru Outback was issued a higher 4/5 rating, and since they share parts, there is hope that the Ascent could perform better than expected over the long term.

Customer confidence in the Subaru Ascent

Compared to other vehicles in the same class, there have been very few complaints about the Subaru Ascent. The NHTSA website reports a variety of electrical issues, most of which stem from the battery. Overall, customers appear to be very happy with the Ascent, with a customer satisfaction rating of 4/5 according to Consumer Reports. With Subaru’s intention to enhance its overall production quality, customer satisfaction will hopefully show even more improvement. 

Handling and maneuverability

The Subaru Ascent’s reliability on the road has been lauded by both U.S. News and Car and Driver. Both reviews found the vehicle’s handling to be smooth and reliable, and the tires maintained an excellent grip even in poor road conditions. Per U.S. News, the Ascent does not perform as well as some other vehicles in its class when it comes to acceleration and cornering; however, all-wheel drive comes standard in all trims and provides excellent maneuverability in any weather. 

Car and Driver indicated that the Ascent offers a comfortable ride over uneven surfaces, especially for such a sizable third-row vehicle. They found the steering and brakes to be highly responsive for excellent emergency handling. Coupled with the Ascent’s quality safety features, drivers can be assured of secure and reliable handling. 

Safety features

If you were driving this Ascent, where would it take you? #AscentAdventure (📸: Candice Berman)

Posted by Subaru of America, Inc. on Thursday, May 2, 2019

When it comes to safety, the 2019 Ascent was rated as a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, with an excellent five-star crash rating according to the NHTSA. It fell short of a perfect score only on the rollover rating, for which it received a very good 4/5 – more than adequate for a vehicle of this size. 

In addition to excellent safety ratings, the Ascent features cutting-edge safety technology on all standard trims, including automatic forward and rear emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control. Automatic high beams and blind-spot monitors are available as optional upgrades. In addition, the 2020 model has an added rear-seat reminder, to prevent operators from forgetting items in the back seat.

The Subaru Ascent’s quality and reliability

2018 Subaru Ascent is on display at the 110th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place
The Subaru Ascent | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

While the reliability ratings for the Subaru Ascent are less than perfect, the overall performance and safety reviews are overwhelmingly positive. With Subaru’s smooth ride and excellent handling, their commitment to process improvement can only make the Ascent better.

Potential Subaru owners may want to wait and see how these operational changes impact future models, and whether the recalled components have been fixed in the 2020 model before taking the plunge.