Is the Subaru Ascent Bigger Than the Forester?

Subaru has been working diligently to offer more dynamic vehicle options, and its Subaru Ascent is an excellent example of that. The Ascent is relatively new, so some drivers may not know where it falls in Subaru’s current lineup. There’s one question we often encounter: is the Subaru Ascent bigger than the Forester?

Comparing the 2020 Subaru Ascent and 2020 Forester 

2020 Subaru Ascent driving down road
2020 Subaru Ascent | Subraru

The Ascent and Forester boast the same unique attributes Subaru is known for. Both come standard with Subaru’s signature all-wheel-drive. The two models also have 8.7 inches of ground clearance, contributing to their ability to tackle mild off-roading trails. While these siblings share numerous similarities, they compete in different realms.

2020 Subaru Forester Limited driving down a gravel road in the woods
2020 Subaru Forester Limited | Subaru

The Forester is a compact SUV that competes in the same class as the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota RAV4. On the other hand, the Ascent is a midsize SUV that rivals models like the Toyota Highlander. The Ascent is significantly larger than the Forester and can seat up to eight people. With the Forester, you get five seats. As a larger model, the Ascent will naturally provide you with more cargo room than the Forester. 

In total, the Ascent has 86.5 cu ft of total cargo space. The Forester has 76.1 cu ft of space, which is excellent for its class. Deciding between the Ascent and Forester ultimately comes down to how many people you plan to carry and what your performance priorities are. It’s also important to note that these 2020 models are mostly unchanged for 2021. 

Driving dynamics 

2021 Subaru Ascent parked outside of a house
2021 Subaru Ascent | Subaru

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Critics, including Consumer Reports, recognize the Ascent and Forester for their comfort and efficiency. CR says that both models absorb road bumps well. The CR team felt that the Ascent rides more comfortably than some luxury cars and that the Forester is notably steady also.

Fuel economy is a highlight of the Forester, while power is a bright spot for the Ascent. The 2020 Forester comes with a 182-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder linked to continuously variable automatic transmission. This Subie is one of the most fuel-efficient compact SUVs and has an EPA rating of 29 mpg overall. 

2020 Subaru Forester driving
2020 Subaru Forester | Subaru

The Ascent will give you a quicker and more forceful driving experience than the Forester can. The Ascent gets its power from a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 260-hp. This SUV also has a CVT. 

Base Ascent models can tow up to 2,000 pounds, and the upper-level trims can haul up to 5,000. The Forester has a max tow rating of 1,500 pounds. Regarding fuel economy, the Ascent has an EPA rating of a combined 23 mpg, which is average for its class. 

Pricing and additional things to consider 

Subaru logo | Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto

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The Ascent and Forester present extraordinary value. Along with their versatile performance, the two SUVs come with lots of in-car tech. Both come with modern infotainment systems that have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They come with Subaru’s Eyesight safety features too. 

If you need to haul more cargo and people, a new Ascent is a worthy choice. The Forester is also family-friendly but a better choice for fuel economy. A new Ascent begins at $31,995, and a new Forester starts at $24,795.