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Subaru has built up customer loyalty over the years by manufacturing reliable, quality vehicles. The manufacturer has become a mainstay for families by leaning into its long-term dependability as its keystone principle. With this in mind, it may be surprising to learn that not all Subaru models are created equal. This is especially true of the largest SUV in the brand’s lineup – the Subaru Ascent. 

The Ascent made its debut during the 2019 model year, and it has quickly earned respect within the three-row SUV segment from critics. It’s a tough market to corner since many midsize third-row SUVs can be cramped and go largely unused. So, it’s been quite an accomplishment for Subaru to make a positive impact in this space. 

However, some Subaru Ascent owners aren’t quite as enamored with their SUV. With a brand like Subaru, which has almost become synonymous with dependability, some buyers find an issue with the lack thereof regarding the Ascent. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into the Subaru Ascent and why some owners aren’t singing the manufacturer’s praises with this newer model. 

The good: The Subaru Ascent does many things well

A red 2021 Subaru Ascent driving down a city street
The 2021 Subaru Ascent in action | Photo via Subaru

There’s obviously a lot that shoppers like about this model. And for all intents and purposes, the Subaru Ascent is a good midsize SUV. It comfortably seats seven or eight passengers, depending on the trim level, and its first two rows are quite spacious. 

Speaking of space, its cargo area is enormous. There are 17.8 cubic feet of storage space, which features a compartment underneath the cargo floor. You can lower the third and second rows to open up 45.7 and 86.5 cubic feet of cargo space, respectively. Meanwhile, this SUV takes big to the next level by offering more cupholders than you’ll ever need.

Like nearly all Subaru models, the Ascent holds an edge over its competitors by coming standard with an all-wheel-drive system. This drivetrain helps provide better traction on slippery surfaces, making every drive safer for your family. The safety precautions don’t stop there. The 2021 Subaru Ascent comes standard with a host of driver-assistance technologies, including a forward automatic emergency braking system.

The bad: Complaints from owners mount

The Subaru Ascent isn’t a bottom-feeder in its class. However, the Ascent is the lowest-rated Subaru model in Kelley Blue Book’s consumer ratings, earning a score of 3.9/5.

While this isn’t too terrible of a rating, some owners have pointed out significant issues with the SUV. These concerns range from the vehicle’s driving dynamics to its loud engine and questionable reliability. Plus, the NHTSA recalled the 2019 Ascent five times, which has led to frustration from drivers.

The Subaru Ascent utilizes a 260-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission. However, some KBB reviewers noted that the SUV’s transmission was “jerky,” causing them to be unhappy with the overall driving experience.

Other owners had even more troubling issues. One driver left a review on KBB, stating, “(I) spent more time towing the car than driving it.” This particular 2020 Subaru Ascent owner ran into significant electrical problems within the first 7,000 miles of use. These concerns were echoed by the U.S. News & World Report, which said the 2021 Ascent “has one of the worst predicted reliability ratings in the class.”

The verdict: Is the Subaru Ascent worth your consideration?

Subaru has built a legacy on long-running and dependable vehicles. From gearing its models toward families to building reliable vehicles, Subaru often executes its prime objective by bringing well-rounded cars to market. Sadly, Subaru fell just short of the mark with the Ascent. 

When it comes to opinion, the customer is always right. This seems to be the case for the Subaru Ascent. There is a lot to like about this model’s spaciousness and features, but it might be best to opt for an SUV with better reliability ratings.


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