Trucks & SUVs

Is the Subaru Ascent Hurting Sales of the Outback?

Subaru’s customers are some of the most satisfied customers in the auto industry. The Subaru Outback, Subaru’s popular mid-size SUV, is one of the main reasons why Subaru fans have been so happy with their cars. That said, Subaru recently released another mid-size SUV, the Ascent, and it’s competing for the same customers as the Outback is. 

The Subaru Ascent vs. the Subaru Outback

While both Subarus are classified as mid-size SUVs, they actually are quite different from one another. According to Planet Subaru, the main difference is that the Ascent is larger than the Outback is, both in terms of weight and in terms of their physical dimensions. Planet Subaru says that the Ascent is about 1,000 lb heavier than the Outback and it’s also several inches taller, longer, and wider than the Outback is.

That size difference mostly helps the Ascent in terms of practicality. For instance, the Outback can only seat five people while the Ascent can seat up to seven or eight people depending on the seats you choose. That’s thanks to the fact that the Ascent is a mid-size SUV with third row seating, while the Outback only has two rows of seats.

This size difference also helps the Ascent in terms of its cargo capacity. The Ascent has 86.5 cu. ft. of cargo space with its seats folded while the Outback has 75.7 cu. ft. of cargo space with its seats folded, according to Planet Subaru.

That said, the vast majority of things, such as safety, fuel economy, and ride comfort are practically the same between the two SUVs. This high level of similarity is what’s causing some Subaru customers to have to make a tough call between buying one or the other SUV.

The sales numbers

The Outback, because it’s been so popular and well-known, did sell better than the Ascent did in 2019, according to Good Car Bad Car. However, the Ascent’s sales were very respectable for a brand-new model. Good Car Bad Car reports that in 2019, without counting December, Subaru sold just under 74,000 Ascents. In comparison, Subaru sold about 165,000 Outbacks. 

Notably, the Outback’s sales, compared to last year, didn’t change at all. Good Car Bad Car said that the Outback experienced a 0.9% growth year-to-year. The Ascent, on the other hand, obviously exploded in growth as it debuted in 2018. Good Car Bad Car said that the Ascent’s sales grew by almost 159%. Again, this high percentage growth is expected since it didn’t sell much in 2018. 

Is the Ascent hurting the Outback’s sales?

It’s hard to get a definitive answer so soon, but given the current sales numbers, the answer is probably not. For example, with the exception of August 2019, every month that the Ascent sold better than it did in the last month, the Outback sold better as well. Overall, the two Subarus’ sales trended along with each other.

This is mostly due to the fact that while the Ascent and the Outback are similar in a lot of ways, they’re also different in many ways that Subaru customers care about. For example, while the Ascent is obviously larger and more suitable for a big family than the Outback is, Consumer Reports says that the Outback is still a better SUV overall.

As a result, some Subaru customers might buy an Ascent if they want to take advantage of its three rows of seats and its 19 cupholders, while other Subaru customers may want the Outback which has consistently been one of the best SUVs on the market. Plus, as Planet Subaru mentions, the Ascent also costs $6,000 more than the Outback, so some Subaru fans may just want to save a few bucks.