Pick the 2021 Subaru Ascent Over the 2021 Toyota Highlander if You Value These 2 Things

You’re ready to start shopping for a new three-row SUV. You’ve done your online research, read the reviews, and narrowed down your selections. You have your eye on the 2021 Toyota Highlander or 2021 Subaru Ascent. Each offers its own pros and cons. And both are competent midsize crossovers with great reviews.

But if you value the following two criteria over all others, the Subaru Ascent might find its way into your garage.

The 2021 Subaru Ascent at a glance

The 2021 Subaru Ascent offers impressive off-road capability and remarkable safety features. All-wheel drive comes standard, and the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is peppy and economical. According to Edmunds, it’s the only engine option, but you likely won’t mind.

The Ascent is also Subaru‘s largest passenger vehicle. And for the 2020 model year, it earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. Fuel economy is also good for a larger crossover, and the 8.7 inches of ground clearance makes it ideal for venturing where the pavement ends.

Overview of the 2021 Toyota Highlander

RELATED: The 2021 Subaru Ascent Received a Confusing Score From Consumer Reports

The 2021 Toyota Highlander lives up to its reputation as a reliable and practical family SUV. You can get either a powerful V6 engine or a hybrid variation. And the roster of safety features is lengthy.

Choose between a front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive and six trim levels to customize your SUV. Fuel economy is good but even more impressive on the hybrid model. There probably isn’t a Toyota Highlander variation you won’t like.

These two Subaru Ascent benefits might sway your decision

Both of these three-row SUVs offer plenty of value. But if cargo capacity and third-row passenger legroom matter, the 2021 Subaru Ascent deserves your vote.

The Ascent measures 17.8 cubic feet behind the third row. That’s nearly two cubic feet more than the Highlander’s 16 cubic feet. And folding down the rear seats offers 86.5 cubic feet of space in the Ascent, compared with 84.3 cubic feet in the Highlander.

Children won’t mind the Highlander’s 27.7 inches of legroom in the third row. But everyone else will appreciate the Ascent’s 31.7 inches.

A contradiction among critics


In the end, what features matter most to you will help you determine which of these two SUVs is worth buying. Even experts can’t decide. For instance, Kelley Blue Book suggests the 2021 Toyota Highlander is the better of the two SUVs. But one MotorTrend critic says the 2021 Subaru Ascent is the better buy. Though independent reviews can help in the buying process, your preferences should be the ultimate guide.

Both the 2021 Subaru Ascent and Toyota Highlander are worth a test drive. They’re excellent family vehicles with three rows and tons of extras. Off-pavement adventures won’t be a problem for either. And safety is a big plus for both.

But the 2021 Subaru Ascent offers more space for passengers and cargo. Anyone climbing into the third row will likely feel more comfortable in the Ascent. So if those two criteria trump all others, the choice between these two SUVs is clear.