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2021 Ascent Limited Abyss Blue Pearl
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are about one month in to our 2021 Ascent Limited ownership, with 8-passenger bench seating, Option Package 23 and Popular Package 2A. It seems true on many forums, particularly car forums, that complaints can out-shout the positives. When things go well or even just OK, sometimes people just don't take the time to post.

I wanted to provide an update after my introductory period with the 2021 Ascent. We are very satisfied with our purchase at this point. Fair warning, these comments are lengthy. So feel free just to just assume we like the car and move on to the next post :)

We use the car primarily in two ways. One is an around town hauler near Phoenix, AZ. I'm the primary hunter, gatherer in our family and we also have s small dog that goes with me when it's allowed. Home Depot loves dogs as much as Subaru.

The other purpose for the car is a 3 season road car for our trips back and forth between Phoenix and a family place in northwest Minnesota, 1800 miles each way. My wife is a school teacher and we drive on her breaks in the Fall, Spring and Summer. The trips in October and March can be dicey with the weather, covering plain states, mountains, as well as high and low desert. We've gotten snowed out on in Colorado, pelted with torrential rains in the mountains, and had to drive out of icey sleet on our way down from Minnesota... on one trip. We've driven through it all. We need a capable road car for these conditions.

COVID has slowed our travel at the moment, but we remain optimistic that it will come back and I'm confident after a short period that the Ascent will keep us safe on those trips where we depend on the AWD and safety systems.

After a month and about 600 miles we're sneaking up on about 20 MPG in town. I'm old school so this is just dividing my mileage by how much gas I include when I fill up. The most recent Trip A shows 18.9 and that's after doing a USB upgrade of the nav system while the car was left running on the driveway.

Our driving isn't consumed with commuter traffic. We would love more, but this is OK mileage considering the car weighs about 4,400lbs. Looking forward to seeing what our highway mileage will be. The car we traded was an RDX, and it got about 27 on the road. I'm guessing I'll be in the 25MPG range on long trips with the Ascent. Lots of mountains to climb between here and there which are likely to push the turbo a bit.

The engine and transmission have smoothed out... a lot. I'm not sure what really happens during storied "learning" period, but the first 400 miles or so the engine ran a little rougher than I expected, and there was a hitch in the giddey-up somewhere between 25 and 30 MPH on acceleration from stop. Recently, I noticed that it's been much smoother on acceleration. Now, I may have adapted my approach to the accelerator, too, but something is different with the engine and drive train, in a good way.

While driving this weekend, I also noticed how smooth and quiet the engine was while stopped at intersections. I almost thought the engine had turned off. It still sounds like a turbo-4 when I accelerate, but it's generally smoothed out considerably.

I've commented elsewhere on this forum how much I appreciate entering the vehicle. With a relatively tall ground clearance of 8.7", being able to step in easily instead of climbing is remarkable. My wife has commented several times how much she enjoys the low center of gravity while driving, making for a very stable driving experience. Those things are probably because of the global platform and the boxer engine, keeping weight low. We test drove a 2020 Pilot and it felt very loose in the hips because the center of gravity was much higher and even though it was an inch or more closer to the ground, stepping up and in was much less convenient.

Under the hood, I have to confess that I had hard time spotting the engine in there! I was told that was because the flat boxer engine helps it maintain a low profile in the compartment. What it does allow by my experience is easy access to necessary dip sticks and fluid refill.

Specific to my car, I can't be more pleased with the second row bench seat. The two outside seats are heated which will be nice for passengers in Minnesota. Folded down, the narrow portion perfectly accommodates our dog's kennel and secures with the seat belt. The package also includes the panoramic moon roof, wonderful when the shade is retracted.

Some things that have been pleasant surprises are small.

For example, I get much better range with the Home Link buttons on our garage door opener. Silly, right? But our last car and my wife's car can only reach the opener half the time from just out side the door. I can reach the opener using the Subaru Home Link buttons from 30 feet away and further.

I really like the 3.1 StarLink system. We looked at an Outback with the new system (4.0 I guess) and it's beautiful. I'm sure it represents the future. But for now I like the split multi-function display above the main interface screen with knobs for volume, and climate control.

Speaking of knobs, I enjoy the volume control. It doesn't bug me when the volume display comes up while adjusting the level, but it's probably unnecessary. I really like the one button press for mute and long press for off. It's a much better system than what I'm used to. My wife's Buick operates in a similar fashion but the mute button is somewhere not obvious on the steering wheel.

The tuning knob is a pleasant surprise for me. It's so nice to be able to quickly scroll through the XM channels using a knob that I can adjust without looking at the screen. The Acura tuning setup was very awkward to the point that only the passenger could, or at least should, do it while the car was in motion. Not a big deal but something I've enjoyed using.

I like the small, multi-function display above the head unit. We are boring and usually have it just set to the clock, but will sometimes have the radio displayed there if I'm using the nav system. The fact that turn-by-turn instructions show up there in near line of site for driving (instead of the multi-function meter on the instrument display) is nice. Pressing enter to return to my last screen selected if the car interrupts my selected display is easy if not immediately obvious.

My wife and I like to kayak the Crow Wing river in Minnesota. I've often worried about losing my keys in the river after we've parked the car at the pull-out. Our Subaru has a nice feature on the rear tailgate that allows you to program a PIN and gain keyless access with the keys safely inside the car. We also park away from the house in Minnesota, and I've been known to forget my keys when retrieving things. PIN access is a really nice feature.

Did I put the gas cap, on my list of things I like? Yes, yes I did. I appreciate the fact that the cover locks with the doors keeping it relatively secure while locked in a parking lot, yet easy to access when not. Much easier than having to unlatch inside the car. Nice gas cap :cool:

My list is not complete, but I'm guessing anyone who's made it this far is probably getting tired of reading (thank you for making it)! No car is perfect. I'm certain things will go wrong as time passes. But for now, we really like our Ascent and we are very satisfied with the purchase.

What things do you like about your Ascent that maybe surprised you?
 

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As someone within 48 hours of pickup up a '21 Ascent, this is great to read and thank you for posting it!

Our dealer said to give about an hour there when pickup it up as they'll go through all the features, which to be honest, I've Youtubed and looked here to know in advance, but good for my wife to learn.

Interesting that the vehicle really "breaks in" somewhere between 600-1200 miles and my read has been to not try to floor it during that period. I believe when torque ft-lb exceeds HP you have great low gear power so no one needs to floor it when the light turns green anyway.
 

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2021 Ascent Touring Brilliant Bronze
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MPG seemed to jump at around the 250/300 mile mark for me. First time seeing over 20 mpg. Seriously though, I am not going to start really looking at mpg until I hit around 4k miles.

Good review.
 

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2021 Ascent Limited Abyss Blue Pearl
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Maybe I'll add a couple of things as I go 😉

If StarLink recognizes an address, it actually works too send the address from my phone to the vehicle while it is parked in the garage and it is turned off.

Honda Pilot couldn't do that, certainly not reliably.

I also like the ability to create long road trips in StarLink with multiple stops. Google Maps kinda does this but the Ascent resumes conveniently in morning when we hop back in the car.
 

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2021 Ascent Limited Abyss Blue Pearl
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This week we reached another pleasant milestone. This was the first time we recorded 21+ MPG on the trip computer.

It seems like the trip computer is conservative; my hand calculations show a higher MPG. During the learning or break in period, I was seeing 15-17 on the display. Seeing 21.5 on the screen for around town driving was very reassuring. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do on the highway.
 

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As someone within 48 hours of pickup up a '21 Ascent, this is great to read and thank you for posting it!

Our dealer said to give about an hour there when pickup it up as they'll go through all the features, which to be honest, I've Youtubed and looked here to know in advance, but good for my wife to learn.

Interesting that the vehicle really "breaks in" somewhere between 600-1200 miles and my read has been to not try to floor it during that period. I believe when torque ft-lb exceeds HP you have great low gear power so no one needs to floor it when the light turns green anyway.
Groove Subaru has some great videos on Subaru features and specifically the Ascent.
 

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Hello,

Can anyone post on the addition of a trailer hitch? The dealership we are buying from tomorrow wants to charge us like 700. to purchase and install a hitch. We need the hitch for biking now - not pulling a trailer - but its possible in the future. I wonder about buying the hitch elsewhere and having my service station install it? Comments please?
 

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Hello,

Can anyone post on the addition of a trailer hitch? The dealership we are buying from tomorrow wants to charge us like 700. to purchase and install a hitch. We need the hitch for biking now - not pulling a trailer - but its possible in the future. I wonder about buying the hitch elsewhere and having my service station install it? Comments please?
Welcome to the forum Karen. Even though you're only planning on using the hitch for bikes, it does take the place of the rear bumper so you'll want the safest option out there. Try searching the towing section for hitches, and you may find this thread useful.
 

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Hello,

Can anyone post on the addition of a trailer hitch? The dealership we are buying from tomorrow wants to charge us like 700. to purchase and install a hitch. We need the hitch for biking now - not pulling a trailer - but its possible in the future. I wonder about buying the hitch elsewhere and having my service station install it? Comments please?
Also, while the hitch with labor is ~700, it does firm up the bumper from rear collisions massively. If you see the work, there is polystyrene under the middle rear bumper. It gets removed with push pins and after they do the work you get a 2" tow to accept your bike rack (mine is Hollywood brand and mounts perfectly). But as you say you might in the future use for a trailer, you get the wiring harness for it's brakes.
 
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$700 is a fair price -- it's about $300-350 for the hitch and a few hours' labor. Getting the genuine Subaru hitch is definitely the way to go. The process involves removal of the rear bumper cover and the added benefit of having your dealer do it is they'll cover any damage that may happen during the installation process. You may save a hundred or two by going to the aftermarket, but you may wish you had given that few hundred if you're not happy with the aftermarket hitch or the local shop can't get the bumper cover on straight, etc.
 

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2021 Ascent Limited Abyss Blue Pearl
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
700 seems inline with normal pricing, I think. You'll occasionally see a dealer discount on parts or something like that where you might save a bit. If you're in an area where there is more than one Subaru dealership, you might call around to see if their prices are the same. I took advantage of both of these situations to save some money.

As most others here have said, the OEM hitch is, in my opinion, the way to go. As noted, the structural integrity of the hitch as it replaces the bumper is very important. Also, depending on how it attaches an after market hitch may extend below the bumper cover lowering your ground clearance in that area and adding unnecessary torque to the frame and connection where the new hitch attaches.
 
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