2021 Subaru Ascent

2021 MODEL
$31,995 - $45,045
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2021 Subaru Ascent Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: July 20, 2020
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John Bedrow

Automotive Journalist

Subaru introduced the Tribeca in 2005 but didn’t see much luck than in the three-row SUV segment. Years later, in 2018 Subaru launched the Ascent as a 2019 year model, making it the automaker’s first three-row crossover. And since then there has been no turning back. The Ascent replaced the Tribeca to become the most sold Subaru in the United States in a span of few years.

See detailed review »

Pros

Massive Towing Capacity

A roomy and versatile cabin

Intuitive infotainment system

A substantial list of driving aids and safety features

Impressive Seating Capacity

Generous ground clearance

Cons

Invasive engine and tire noise

Insufficient second-row shoulder room

Sensitive accelerator pedal

Uncomfortable riding experience while rolling over bumps

What's New?

Standard suite of driver assistance features

Standard Steering Responsive LED units

New seat belt reminders for the second and third row


Pictures & Videos

Exterior
Interior
Videos
2021 Subaru Ascent Review video

Styles

2021 Subaru Ascent in Crystal Black Pearl color 2021 Subaru Ascent in Crystal White Pearl color 2021 Subaru Ascent in Ice Silver Metallic color 2021 Subaru Ascent in Magnetite Gray Metallic color
Crystal Black Pearl

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Fuel Economy

8.0

Competition

8.0

8.0

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


2021 Subaru Ascent Base

Base

power
260 hp @ 5600 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
22 combined

$31,995


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
4dr SUV AWD w/8-Passenger (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) Starting at $31,995 MSRP (2/22/26) 260 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.4 L, flat 4, regular unleaded
Lineartronic CVT all wheel drive 8

2021 Subaru Ascent Premium

Premium

power
260 hp @ 5600 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
22 combined

$34,395


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Premium 4dr SUV AWD w/8-Passenger (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) Starting at $34,395 MSRP (2/22/26) 260 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.4 L, flat 4, regular unleaded
Lineartronic CVT all wheel drive 8
Premium 4dr SUV AWD w/7-Passenger (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) Starting at $34,395 MSRP (19/21/26) 260 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.4 L, flat 4, regular unleaded
Continuously variable-speed automatic all wheel drive 8
Premium 4dr SUV AWD w/7-Passenger (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) Starting at $34,395 MSRP (19/21/26) 260 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.4 L, flat 4, regular unleaded
Continuously variable-speed automatic all wheel drive 8

2021 Subaru Ascent Limited

Limited

power
260 hp @ 5600 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
22 combined

$39,345


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/8-Passenger (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) Starting at $39,345 MSRP (2/22/26) 260 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.4 L, flat 4, regular unleaded
Lineartronic CVT all wheel drive 8
Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/7-Passenger (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) Starting at $39,345 MSRP (2/22/26) 260 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.4 L, flat 4, regular unleaded
Lineartronic CVT all wheel drive 7

2021 Subaru Ascent Touring

Touring

power
260 hp @ 5600 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
22 combined

$45,045


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Touring 4dr SUV AWD w/7-Passenger (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) Starting at $45,045 MSRP (2/22/26) 260 hp @ 5600 rpm, 2.4 L, flat 4, regular unleaded
Lineartronic CVT all wheel drive 7

Expert Review

8.0

Overall Rating


In 2021, the Subaru Ascent retains the four trim levels. All four trim levels are powered by the same 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer engine. It puts out 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque and all that power is transmitted via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Despite its big size, the Subaru gets a combined mileage figure of 23 MPG from the EPA.

The Ascent strikes as an admirable well-designed family hauler. The interior is spacious and has many standard safety features like adaptive cruise control technology, automated emergency braking, and lane-keep assist. This three-row crossover will compete againstFord Explorer,Toyota Highlander, and theChevrolet Traverse.

2021 Subaru Ascent Front View
2021 Subaru Ascent Rear View

 
 

8.0/10
Fuel Economy

 
 
 
 

8.0/10
Competition

 
 

2021 Subaru Ascent Features

The 2021 Subaru Ascent is expected to be offered in four trim lines namely Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring. Prices are expected to start at $33,005 and the top variant is expected at $46,055.

Trim

Base

Premium 

Limited

Touring

MSRP

$33,005 (estimated)

$35,405 (estimated)

$40,355 (estimated)

$46,055 (estimated)

Key Features

18-inch alloy wheels

Equipped with the base trim’s features plus:

Equipped with premium trim’s features plus:

Equipped with limited trim’s features plus:

 

Second-row bench

Heated front seats

20-inch alloy wheels

Ventilated front seats

 

Tri-zone automatic climatic control

Leather-wrapped steering wheel

Standard leather upholstery

Power tilt/sliding panoramic moon-roof

 

6.5-inch infotainment touch-screen

8-inch infotainment touch-screen

Heated steering wheel

Second-row captain’s chairs

 

Cloth Upholstery

Blindspot detection

LED steering responsive headlights with high beam assist

An onboard STARLINK navigation system

 

Automatic Collision Alert

Eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat

Ten-way power-adjustable driver’s seat

14 speaker Harman Kardon sound system

Expected Price and release date of the 2021 Subaru Ascent

Prices of the 2021 Ascent is expected to start at $33,005. The Premium trim is priced at $35,405, the Limited trim is priced at $40,355, and the Touring trim is priced at $46,055. The Ascent has a competitive price against its rivals.

Subaru has not yet announced an official on-sale date for the 2021 Ascent. Based on previous year schedules, the Ascent is expected to release in the summer of 2020. And since we have already gone past the date due to the ongoing COVID situation, the release date might postpone till fall or early next year.

2021 Subaru Ascent Engine and Performance

All 2021 Subaru Ascent trims are equipped with a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder horizontal engine. They come paired to a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT). And yes, there the CVT does share a controversial history in the past. But Subaru has worked on it and in the Ascent, it almost feels like an automatic transmission. How did Subaru do so? Simple, by remapping the steps in the transmission's shift logic that simulate conventional gears.

2021 Subaru Ascent Engine Bay

The engine produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque and the Ascent with its standard all-wheel drivetrain, makes sure all of that power is used.

With these constituents, the Ascent has no problem keeping up with other cars in this segment when pulling away from a standstill. The twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection, and variable valve optimize power delivery and fuel efficiency too.

Models

2021 Subaru Ascent (expected)

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Chevrolet Traverse

MSRP

$33,005

$32,365

$34,600

$31,000

Engine

2.4-liter turbocharged boxer 4

2.3 liter turbocharged inline 4

3.5 liter V6

3.6 liter V6

Drivetrain

AWD

RWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

CVT

6 speed automatic

8 speed automatic

9 speed automatic

Power (hp @ rpm)

260 @ 5,600

300 @ 5,500

295 @ 6,600

305 @ 6,800

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)

277 @ 2,000

310 @ 3,500

263 @ 4,700

260 @ 2,800

Considering the performance and features of the Subaru Ascent’s engine, it does have a high performing and responsive 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. Subaru Ascent is just behindFord Explorer in terms of horsepower. But in terms of torque, the Ascent beats all of its rivals. With peak torque building at just 2000 rpm, the Ascent is quicker of the line.

How quick is the 2021 Subaru Ascent?

The 2021 Subaru Ascent claims to do a 0-60 MPH run in 6.9 seconds and the quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds. The 2021 Ascent is expected to have the same figures. Considering the weight of 4430 lbs, the Subaru manages to stick its head out among its competition.

2021 Subaru Ascent Accelerate 0-60 MPH in just 6.9 sec

This goes on to show how refined the new turbocharged H4 engine is. It takes a lot of confidence to stick to a smaller engine. Especially when you’re replacing a product that did not enjoy a good stance. Subaru’s reliance on this small engine is a gesture from the Japanese that they have owned up and learned from the mistakes of the Tribeca.

Models

2021 Subaru Ascent (expected)

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Chevrolet Traverse

0-60 MPH

6.9 seconds

8.2 seconds

7.2 seconds

6.9 seconds

Quarter mile

15.5 seconds

16.3 seconds

15.6 seconds

15.5 seconds

Top Speed

N/A

143 MPH

N/A

130 MPH

Engine

2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

2.3 liter turbocharged inline 4

3.5 liter V6

3.6 liter V6

Subaru Ascent and Chevrolet Traverse beat every other car in terms of acceleration from 0-60 MPH and quarter-mile. Though, the Highlanders V6 is not that slow. Despite weighing 100 pounds less than the Ascent, the Highlander’s less torquey engine builds up the power gradually, which makes the Toyota a much calmer ride.

How well does the 2021 Subaru Ascent brake?

The 2021 Subaru Ascent is a heavy vehicle and needs durable and well-performing brakes to bring it to a halt. The 13.1-inch front brake rotor and 13 inch rear brake rotor are extremely good and they perform exceptionally well under emergency braking.

2021 Subaru Ascent Wheel

The Ascent is further equipped with driver assistance features like Automatic Emergency Braking and Reverse Automatic Braking.

Model

2021 Subaru Ascent (expected)

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Chevrolet Traverse

Brake Front (in)

13.1

12.8

12.9

12.6

Brake Rear (in)

13.0

12.8

12.2

12.4

Curb Weight (lbs)

4430

4458

4134

4362

60-0 MPH (ft.)

119

108

116

126

The Subaru Ascent is equipped with larger and more powerful front and rear brake rotors than its rivals. Yet, when compared in terms of halting timings, theFord Explorer beats every car, followed by the Highlander and Ascent.

How well does the 2021 Subaru Ascent Handle?

The Subaru Ascent has a poised and refined ride quality which has become synonymous with this segment. However, while the rivals do favor smooth tarmac, the Ascent is far more capable of filtering out lumps and bumps on the broken tarmac and gravel roads. On such conditions, it simply absorbs all those sharp jabs without much cabin disturbance. The composure gives out the sense of driving a smaller and considering its dimensions, piloting the Ascent is far less straining.

2021 Subaru Ascent Handling

The surefootedness of the permanent all-wheel-drive and ample ground clearance ensures that the Ascent feels at home in the outbacks. Though, there’s no dual-range transfer case to enable rock crawling. The X-mode setting on the CVT transmission tightens up the ratios to maximize low-down torque and activates hill descent control. This gives the Ascent tremendous ability against the rest of the crossover clan.

2021 Subaru Ascent Fuel Economy

8.0/10

On paper, the Subaru Ascent is supposed to be more fuel-efficient, especially in a competition where competitors boast V6 models. But what really affects the mpg figures on the Ascent is its tire size.

With 18-inch wheels, the 2021 Ascent returns 22 mpg on the city, 27 mpg on the highway. But when equipped with 20-inch wheels, the figures drop by one mile per gallon. Which is still not bad for a car in this segment. With a fuel capacity of 19.3 gallons, the Ascent is sure to get a combined range around 444 miles on the base trims.

Models

Subaru Ascent (expected)

Ford Explorer

Toyota Highlander

Chevrolet Traverse

MPG (City)

21

17

20

18

MPG (Highway)

27

24

24

27

MPG (Combined)

23

20

22

21

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

19.3

19.2

17.9

21.7

Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles)

386/506/444

384/518.4/384

358/483.3/393.8

390.6/585.9/455.7

The Chevrolet Traverse has a higher fuel capacity compared to its rivals. Ascent and Explorer have a similar amount of fuel capacity and the Highlander has the lowest fuel capacity on the list. Also, the Ascent has the highest range in miles when compared to Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander.

2021 Subaru Ascent Interior

The 2021 Subaru Ascent is expected to carry forward Subaru’s pragmatic design philosophy. This includes a simple dash design with a large center shack that houses Climate Control setup, a Large Touch-Screen, and leather upholstered seats. The interior is well-built and its materials are of good quality, with wood inlays here and there that gives it the necessary premium feel.

2021 Subaru Ascent Front Seats

The Subaru Ascent is a family-sized SUV designed for safety, comfort, and versatility at its peak level. This three-row SUV that can seat up to 8 passengers and there’s ample space in the rear.

Overall passenger volume is decent, and though it might not have a class-leading third row. Egressing and entering are easy, whereas adults can easily settle for brief trips.

Models

2021 Subaru Ascent (expected)

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Chevrolet Traverse

Seating Capacity

8

7

8

8

Front Row(Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

41.3/61.6/42.2

41.4/61.5/42.9

40.7/59.3/44.2

41.3/62.1/41

Second Row(Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

40/60.3/38.6

40.6/61/39.5

39.9/59.6/38.4

40/62.2/38.4

Rear Row(Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

36.3/57.2/31.7

37.8/50.8/32

35.9/55/27.7

38.2/37.3/33.5

Trunk Capacity (cubic feet)

17.6

18.2

16.0

23.0

Dimension wise, all the cars in this segment have almost similar numbers. The unanimous box-shaped design puts things on the same pedestal for all competitors. Though, when it comes to trunk capacity the Traverse triumphs over its competitors. The same goes for its third-row legroom space too.

Some of the additional interior features of the 2021 Subaru Ascent are as follows:

  • Leather upholstered seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Enormous cabin cargo ergonomics
  • Push-button start
  • Automatic air-conditioning
  • Heated power-adjustable seats

What about the infotainment system of the 2021 Subaru Ascent?

Many cars in this segment try to impress buyers with massive infotainment touch-screens but the Base model of the 2021 Ascent only has a 6.5-inch touch-screen. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are available. There’s also the Pandora app - which is Subaru’s Starlink system where you can use your smartphone to control certain entertainment features. Furthermore, there’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio, and Bluetooth connectivity.

2021 Subaru Ascent Infotainment Screen

The Base and Premium trim have a six-speaker sound system but the Premium trim offers an 8-inch touchscreen. The Touring model gets added navigation, equipped with a 14 speaker Harman Kardon sound system with 792 watts of audio punch.

 Highlight features of the infotainment system:

  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • 14 speaker Harman Kardon sound system
  • Navigation
  • 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot
  • STARLINK multimedia system

How much cargo can the 2021 Subaru Ascent carry?

A lot of the Ascent’s body length is allotted to the cargo area. There’s an expansive 17.8 cubic feet available behind the third-row seats. Thre’s plenty of cargo space for about seven medium-sized luggage bags, with various Velcro tires helping to keep everything in place.

2021 Subaru Ascent Cargo Space

Folding the third-row seats will open up to 47.5 cubic feet of rear cargo space. And folding the 60/40 split second-row seats extends the cargo space up to 86.5 cubic feet.

Models

2021 Subaru Ascent (expected)

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Chevrolet Traverse

Standard Cargo Capacity (ft³)

17.8

18.2

16.0

23.0

Maximum Cargo Capacity (ft³)

86.5

87.8

84.3

98.2

The Chevrolet Traverse beats all its rivals in terms of standard and cargo capacity, followed by Ford Explorer and Subaru Ascent. Toyota Highlander has the lowest amount of trunk capacity off the chart.

What are the other storage spaces inside?

As for in-cabin storage, the front door pockets are expansive and capable of holding large bottles. There are two large cupholders in the center console, a small-item storage cubby, and a cavernous armrest cubby with a small item storage tray. On the passenger side, there is a sizeable glovebox. There’s a large cupholder in the upper section of each door too, and there’s a seatback map pocket behind each front seat. Third-row occupants are given three cupholders and a small-item cubby on either side of the bench.

2021 Subaru Ascent Cockpit
2021 Subaru Ascent Cockpit
2021 Subaru Ascent Infotainment
2021 Subaru Ascent Infotainment
2021 Subaru Ascent Front Seat
2021 Subaru Ascent Front Seat
2021 Subaru Ascent Rear Seat
2021 Subaru Ascent Rear Seat
2021 Subaru Ascent Sunroof
2021 Subaru Ascent Sunroof

2021 Subaru Ascent Exterior

There are no changes expected in the outward appearance of the 2021 Subaru Ascent. It will retain the classic Subaru styling which fans of the brand are familiar with. This look may seem bland or a little outdated to some buyers, but anybody who has grown with the Outback or the Forester will not mind the Ascents looks.

2021 Subaru Ascent Side View

The 2021 Subaru Ascent looks sleek and gorgeous. Some of the significant exterior features are:

  • Body-color front and rear bumper
  • Rugged black body cladding
  • Raised roof rails
  • Steering-responsive LED headlights
  • Power Panoramic sunroof
  • 18 to 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with silver finish
  • Liftgate rear cargo cabin

Models

Subaru Ascent (expected)

Ford Explorer

Toyota Highlander

Chevrolet Traverse

Curb Weight (lbs)

4430

4458

4134

4362

Length (inches)

196.8

198.3

192.5

204.3

Width (inches)

76

78.9

75.8

78.6

Height (inches)

71.6

70

68.1

70.7

Ground Clearance (inches)

8.7

7.8

8.0

N/A

Wheelbase (inches)

113.8

112.8

109.8

120.9

Chevrolet Traverse is lengthier and broader than its rivals and Toyota Highlander is comparatively smaller. The Ascent beats all three rivals in terms of ground clearance. But when it comes to curb weights, the Ford seems to be the heaviest of all, followed by the Ascent.

2021 Subaru Ascent Front View
2021 Subaru Ascent Front View
2021 Subaru Ascent Rear View
2021 Subaru Ascent Rear View
2021 Subaru Ascent Side View
2021 Subaru Ascent Side View
2021 Subaru Ascent Side Angle View
2021 Subaru Ascent Side Angle View
2021 Subaru Ascent Wheel
2021 Subaru Ascent Wheel

2021 Subaru Ascent Safety

The IIHS named the 2020 Subaru Ascent a Top Safety Pick+, the organization’s highest honor. The Ascent earned a top rating of Good in all six crash tests. Models equipped with LED projector headlights received a good rating for how well they illuminate the road, while models with halogen headlights received the lowest rating of Poor. Thanks to Subaru’s standard Eyesight safety suite, the Ascent earned a top rating of Superior for front crash prevention. The 2021 Ascent is expected to have the same ratings as there are no changes. The NHTSA gave an overall rating of five stars out of five stars.

Highlighted safety features:

  • Forward automatic emergency braking
  • Pre-collision throttle management
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane Departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane change assist
  • 360-degree view camera

2021 Subaru Ascent Competition

8.0/10

Subaru Ascent vs Ford Explorer

Both the Subaru Ascent and the Ford Explorer are tough contenders in this segment. The Ford Explorer has more horsepower and is a bit cheaper than the Ascent. But, if you consider off-road performance and fuel efficiency, the Ascent simply outshines the Explorer.

2021 Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent vs Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander has an excellent reliability rating, a quiet cabin, and a stylish selection of premium-grade materials. The Highlander is a good choice if you want an SUV that feels more upscale. But the Ascent is a better performing SUV than the Highlander and the Highlander’s has a much-reserved ride quality, which is underwhelming in every aspect for a three-row SUV.

2021 Toyota Highlander

Subaru Ascent vs Chevrolet Transverse

The Traverse is the King of the three-row segment, as least in terms of size. It outpaces most of its rivals in overall volume. But the Ascent pulls up a close second where it counts: third-row leg-room, cargo space, and utility. The Transverse is less fuel-efficient than the Ascent. When it comes to braking the Transverse is not as strong as the Ascent too.

2021 Chevrolet Transverse

2021 Subaru Ascent Final Verdict

The Ascent, in general offers impressive performance and a responsive engine with decent horsepower and torque. It has a powerful braking system and great fuel efficiency. It also comes with modern infotainment features and security systems. Subaru offers AWD drivetrain for the base trim at a comparatively lesser price than its rivals. If you’re looking for a powerful, highly responsive SUV with an impressive seating capacity, the Subaru Ascent is highly recommended.