A closer look at the three-row CUV’s cabin
With the 2019 Ascent, Subaru’s finally back in the three-row crossover game. From the outside, it certainly looks like a Subaru, but what about the inside? How’s the cabin look and feel? Is it functional and practical enough for families? After testing an Ascent Premium and Touring, we got to know Subaru’s largest CUV very well. Read on to see what we thought in our latest interior review.
Over the past several years, beltlines have gotten higher and A-pillars have become thicker. In some cases, it helps make cars safer, but the downside is that some modern crossovers make you feel like you’re sitting in a bathtub. Slide behind the wheel of the Subaru Ascent, and it quickly becomes clear that’s not the case for this vehicle. The Ascent is remarkably easy to see out of, which helps make it easy to drive.
Room to Breathe
Midsize crossovers may all technically be in the same segment, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same size. The Ascent’s wheelbase is a full 4.0 inches longer than the Toyota Highlander’s and almost an inch longer than the Ford Explorer’s. Subaru uses that extra space to give the Ascent an impressive, spacious cabin that feels open and airy. Retract the sunshade on the optional panoramic moonroof, and it feels even more open.
Buyers who spring for the top-of-the-line Ascent Touring will get a car that’s significantly nicer than the base model. The Java Brown leather and wood-like matte trim look and feel like they were pulled out of a luxury car. The problem is, without upgrades to the rest of the touchpoints, it can be a little jarring to feel regular plastic right next to other fancy materials.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard in the Ascent. Subaru’s EyeSight safety system also comes standard, integrating adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and pre-collision throttle management into a single package.
If you’re shopping for a $100,000 USD flagship luxury sedan, it’s generally safe to assume any car you buy is going to have comfortable seats. With mainstream crossovers, however, that’s not always a guarantee. But Subaru didn’t just give the loaded Ascent great seats. It also stuck them in the lower-trim models. They might not be wrapped in leather, but the Premium-trim’s cloth seats are still seriously comfortable, even on long road trips.
The Ascent has room for as many as eight passengers spread across three rows. But unless families regularly need that third row, the rear seats will probably spend most of the time folded down. With them up, there simply isn’t much cargo room left. It’s even a struggle to fit a week’s worth of groceries back there. Drop the third row, however, and there’s plenty of room.
From the outside, it will be hard to mistake the Ascent for anything other than a Subaru. But there aren’t many surprises in the cabin, either. Anyone familiar with modern Subarus will see a lot of similarities in the Ascent. For better or for worse, that means black plastic and a center console with more than a few buttons and knobs.
When your phone needs juice, Subaru has you covered. The Ascent comes with four USB ports standard and six on Limited and Touring models. Customers can add two optional USB ports, as well, bringing the possible total to eight. Theoretically, that means everyone could charge their phones at once, and in a car built for families, you can never have too many USB ports.
Subaru’s current center console design uses two screens, and the 2019 Ascent is no different. One is an 8.0-inch touchscreen that controls the infotainment system, and the second one, mounted high on the dash, displays additional information. In theory, it’s a great way to avoid cluttering a single screen, but especially on lower-end models, it feels a little unnecessary. That said, young kids will probably love the “target acquired” graphic that’s displayed when the adaptive cruise control locates a car ahead.