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Discussion Starter #1
I'm ready for a new car, so now's the time to start looking! I'm curious if anyone else is comparing the Honda Pilot to the Subaru Ascent? I have ruled out the Highlander - I don't like the 3rd row.

This past weekend I was able to sit in both at the North American International Auto Show. I really liked the Ascent. I thought it was very nicely finished on the inside. Front two rows had lots of space.

My main issue with the Ascent was the lack of cargo space when the 3rd row is up. So, the trunk space. The Pilot was significantly bigger and gave much more room. Also, the Touring Pilot comes with a TV in the back which is a big thing for my family.

Anyways, I was just curious if anyone else had thoughts on the Ascent vs. Pilot.

I was told at the Auto Show that the Ascent we were sitting in wasn't the production model. So, I'm wondering if that will change the space in the back? The dimensions they have online do not specifically measure the trunk space.

There were lots of people around the Ascent, so I think Subaru will do well with this model!
 

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I wonder what they meant by “not the production model.”

My expectation would be that all the hard points are finalized (dimensions, engine and suspension mounting points, seat mounting points, etc). Things like interior materials, shock valving and spring rates and those types of variables may still be being tweaked.
 

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Here's my braindump to spark more discussion...

I've been comparing both the Ascent and Pilot. I'm a very detailed shopper so I've been really getting into the details. From my experience so far, the Pilot has more height behind the 3rd row, but less depth (from hatch door to back of 3rd row seat). The Ascent has more depth but a lot less height, and while measurements are sparse on the Ascent, I did walk back and forth at the auto show between the Pilot and Ascent to double check the cargo depth (measured with my arm for rough idea). So I feel like the Ascent might have more space for groceries if you prefer to keep the 3rd row seats up at all times, but the Honda Pilot would have more with the 3rd row down.

The cargo space in the pilot while shorter depth could gain more height (probably 6") when you drop the cargo tray down. Today while test driving the Pilot I was able to stand our Baby Jogger Mini GT stroller vertically in the back folded and still close the hatch. That allowed room next to it for groceries etc vs losing floor space by having to set the stroller on its side). I am 90% sure that stroller wouldn't fit vertically like that in the ascent, but I never tried because I didn't have the stroller at the car show.

I'm 6'2" and both 3rd rows were fine, however the pilot has a around 3" more headroom there. In between captains chairs there was a console on the floor of the Pilot that can't be moved (however it is low). The ascent just had carpet there, so probably better spot for a dog than the pilot. A pillow or blanket could make that spot in the Pilot fine for a dog as well. One difference i felt immediately between the 3rd rows outside of the height was how low the pilots seats are. It's like if you sawed off the legs to your chair and set it on the ground. Only my ass bones were touching the seat and not any part of my leg. The Ascent had at least more feeling of a chair because there's a little step up to the third row. Basically my lower half liked the Ascent, my upper half liked the Pilot. My wife is 5'10 and had a ton of room in the 3rd row of the Ascent so I really feel like both are great 3rd rows, even for adults. The Ascent 3rd row reclined, can't confirm the Pilot having 3rd row recline.

Based off what i saw i have no idea why the ascent has such a small (72.6 cu ft iirc) measurement with 2nd and 3rd row down (I've seen rumors the ascent migght have measured cargo space to just the top of the 3rd row vs all the way to the ceiling). It seemed very comparable to the Pilot (which is tied for my first choice based off space and features). The highlander had terrible leg and head room for 3rd row. The XC90 was even worse. The Mazda CX9 didn't have captains chair options so we skipped that. If my wife didn't have a terrible experience with our local VW, I would also look at the Atlas. Also when comparing to the outback from a cargo volume perspective, remember that the outback doesn't have a 3rd row. I'm very confident the Ascent has more cargo behind the second seat with 3rd row down than the outback has behind the second row. Sure, maybe the outback is more when you drop the middle row, but it doesn't have a folded 3rd row taking up cabin space either.

The radio/head unit system on the Ascent looks way easier to use and has volume knobs (the 2018 crosstrek looks to have an almost identical system if you want to compare) vs touch sensing volume buttons like the pilot.

The safety sensors and parking features seem very similar on both cars, but the Ascent does have a front view camera and the Pilot does not. The Pilot has front sensors on both corners of the front bumper, but I had the sales guy stand in the middle of the car as i drove forward and it didn't beep to alert me he was there until he walked towards the side where the sensors are located. Not sure how this would function parking in a tight spot. If it's a big car in front the front sensors might still alert you of the car. In my opinion though I don't need beeps to alert me, I need a camera to show me how many inches I have left before I touch the car in front or behind me.

Another big difference would be rear entertainment systems. Pilot has a screen and BD player with wireless headphones. I feel like this could be easily overcome with a tablet in a behind the seat organizer, but popping in a disc would probably be more convenient (if you are into discs...I don't buy them anymore. I'd rather connect a roku or something with local storage via HDMI). Another thought my wife and I had was as soon as our daughter realized there was a screen in the car, she would be begging to watch something even on short trips around town which could lead to meltdowns or minor annoyance of the parents at least.

More thoughts...there's rumor of the new 2019 Pilot being released this year around September. This could include a different transmission. A lot of people had issues with the 2016 Pilot 9sp option. So for those not in a rush this fall/winter may be the best time to buy because you would have all info on the table with both cars at that point. For now I"m leaning rolling the dice on the new Ascent. I am in love with my 2014 Forester, and my wife will be driving the Ascent (or Pilot possibly).
 

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I've also compared and I am not happy with the Honda Pilot from a comfort level. We have 2 new Pilots in the family as we've primarily been Honda and Toyota owners. I find the Honda Pilot seats hard.

I don't have kids so I don't look at the 3rd row like others do. For me I'm looking for cargo space. I wouldn't go by how the manufacturers calculate as there seems to be some different ways to do it. And like you, we were told at the Phila show that the specs in the brochure are no longer correct and that the model at the show wasn't even going to be exactly what will be released but is closer than what was in the book. She volunteered that since I was the only nerd with a measuring tape taking down numbers that were important to me. So once I heard that I realized I was going to have to wait for the release to go back and measure.

Anyway, I didn't measure the trunk space with the 3rd seat up to help you out. Sorry. But looking at it, visually I think it's very close to the Pilot. Also both have the additional storage underneath. I took those measurements but haven't transcribed my recordings from last week.

I've narrowed down between the Highlander and Ascent, as I've totally ruled out Honda Pilot because I find the seats to hard and I think Honda has been 'phoning in' their designs in my opinion.
 

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I feel like Honda quality isn't up to the standards it used to be, this coming from a few friends who own garages and from looking at the many problems plaguing their new Civic. On the flip side, they said Subaru's reliability is pretty great, but the designs were putting people off. That shouldn't be a problem with the Ascent because it's certainly a looker.
 

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I think its safe to say that the Ascent has quite a line up of competition including Japanese rivals like the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, and American entries like the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. I think the most noticeable difference between them and the Ascent is the 2.4L 4 cylinder engine. Subaru claims their engine despite its smaller size, will achieve smoother acceleration equal to or better than that of competing vehicles with 3.5-liter 6-cylinder engines. Apparently they have focused more on the torque offering than raw horsepower.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks all for your input. I'm working on buying a new car on my own - no husband here - so it's nice to have some form of knowledge when walking into dealerships.

I did drive the 2018 Honda Pilot on Wednesday. It snowed here, so I wanted a feel for the AWD in the snow. I'm in Canada, so I am looking at the Touring level (which is the Touring Elite level in the US).

Things I loved and can't seem to get past when comparing to the Ascent:
-RES DVD player in the back. I currently have this in my Odyssey and it's a life saver for long distance driving (12 hrs in one day is nothing for us) with screaming kids. Subaru doesn't seem to offer any dvd players in their models - correct me if I'm wrong.
-The amount of space between the 3rd row seat when in use and the door - so the trunk space. It is significant compared to the Highlander, and the Ascent based on my auto show measuring.
-Blind Spot Monitoring - comparing it to the BSM on a 2018 Subaru Outback, I assume that the Ascent will be the same technology. I liked that the Honda had the indicator lights on the inside of the vehicle. I also liked that it chimed when I put my indicator on to move lanes when someone was in my blindspot. On the Outback the lights are in the mirror and there is no chime, the BSM light just flashed rapidly.

I also have concerns as noted above on the engine size of the Ascent. The Pilot did a great job on the highway with adaptive cruise and getting up to speed. I was actually surprised with the quality of the ride.

I guess at this point, if you are in the same boat as me, we are stuck until we see some pricing released for the Ascent. If I knew the Ascent was going to be out of my price range, I'd make a deal on the Pilot now.
 

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@RiverRat.. my gut is telling me the AWD loaded Ascent will be less than the AWD loaded Pilot. Honda is typically the top of the price range. In my opinion the eyesight system offers more value than Honda's Sensing. ES can stop your car, Sensing only slows the car to mitigate impact. I don't believe the Pilot comes with low speed follow yet (meaning it can't do adaptive cruise control in stop and go traffic.) ES can, I use it daily and it is amazing. I believe the only option that Sensing does better is the side camera for lane changing. Subaru only offers a 180* front camera for front/side views, but not sure when/how that is available to view. Sensing does utilize radar and camera which is surely better than ES' camera alone, but I've been using ES for 3yrs and 50,000 and the camera's only deactivated 3x due to bad sun glare in Sept. Not enough of an inconvenience for me to require radar+camera setup.

- DVD player: I can see your point, but DVD is an older technology and I'm surprised it is still being implemented into cars. The alternative is a tablet on a mount. I find that much more useful b/c it can be updated, could stream if i wanted, could be used outside the vehicle etc. I understand the nicely wrapped screen/dvd player is enticing, but I just can't get past having DVDs floating around in the back seat with my kids. They would be destroyed/stepped on etc. 2.5y/5yr old.

- engine: I can't comment on how it will handle the weight of the car, but I've never cared too much about engine power, I'd rather have efficiency. Our 2011 4cyl outback is sufficient and our 2015 4cyl Legacy is sufficient.

- The BSM is on the inside of the mirror, not in the mirror glass itself. It is unlikely to chime based on previous models. People are divided on the sound or no sound. I prefer no sound.


good luck with your decision!!
 

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@RiverRat.. my gut is telling me the AWD loaded Ascent will be less than the AWD loaded Pilot. Honda is typically the top of the price range. In my opinion the eyesight system offers more value than Honda's Sensing. ES can stop your car, Sensing only slows the car to mitigate impact. I don't believe the Pilot comes with low speed follow yet (meaning it can't do adaptive cruise control in stop and go traffic.) ES can, I use it daily and it is amazing. I believe the only option that Sensing does better is the side camera for lane changing. Subaru only offers a 180* front camera for front/side views, but not sure when/how that is available to view. Sensing does utilize radar and camera which is surely better than ES' camera alone, but I've been using ES for 3yrs and 50,000 and the camera's only deactivated 3x due to bad sun glare in Sept. Not enough of an inconvenience for me to require radar+camera setup.

- DVD player: I can see your point, but DVD is an older technology and I'm surprised it is still being implemented into cars. The alternative is a tablet on a mount. I find that much more useful b/c it can be updated, could stream if i wanted, could be used outside the vehicle etc. I understand the nicely wrapped screen/dvd player is enticing, but I just can't get past having DVDs floating around in the back seat with my kids. They would be destroyed/stepped on etc. 2.5y/5yr old.

- engine: I can't comment on how it will handle the weight of the car, but I've never cared too much about engine power, I'd rather have efficiency. Our 2011 4cyl outback is sufficient and our 2015 4cyl Legacy is sufficient.

- The BSM is on the inside of the mirror, not in the mirror glass itself. It is unlikely to chime based on previous models. People are divided on the sound or no sound. I prefer no sound.


good luck with your decision!!
I am not familiar with other manufactures driver assist technology other than the Subaru Eyesight. I have relatives who have Ford's or Mercedes version and seems to be adequate for them. I personally really like the eyesight on my families 16 ' 2.5i Limited OB. The adaptive cruise is great, wish I could us the car as my daily commuter but it's the wife's car to cart the kids around town as a stay at home mom. The only confusion I have with Eyesight is the reviews about 'sun glare'. I haven't experienced Eyesight turning off due to sun, ever in 2 1/2 years (28k miles). The handful of times I have experienced Eyesight turning off was due to extreme foggy conditions. In my area, fog can be pretty bad when it occurs. I do not fault the system for this, our technology isn't there yet to over come multiple obstacles. Overall it does an amazing job.

- The DVD player isn't a huge deal to me either. It would be nice but both my kids ( 2 yrs old and 8 yrs old) have iPads that have games and some movies. Like you said, having DVD's everywhere and not being able to utilize the device outside the car isn't financially worth it for me. My 8 yr old does have a portable DVD player she got for Christmas from the grandparents a year ago, she uses the iPad 95% of the time. Tablets with a mount is the way to go these days.

- The Ascent is a vehicle I am considering but the more I read up on this, I feel like I may wait until 2019 or 2020 to make the purchase. Engine power is something I wish I would have considered more when getting the OB. The 2.5i is good, efficient and has decent power for the everyday driver. But it lacks the power when I have needed or wanted it the most. Therefore, I wish i would have gotten the 3.6R. Sooo, I am a bit nervous and curious to see how the Ascent will handle the weight of itself along with a maxed out car on a trip. We take a vacations to the Pacific Coast for a week each summer and take as much crap with us as possible. With the bigger vehicle, I would imagine we would put the capacity and capabilities to the test. We have a Yakima Skybox 18 and a cargo hitch carrier or a hitch bike rack we use as well depending on what we plan to do. With that said, I sure hope the engine can handle passing on the highway through the mountains with all our stuff. If not, I would say that I can't even think about getting a camping trailer to pull with the Ascent.
 

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I’m looking at both too for my wife’s new family hauler. Does anyone know who has done research on the pilot what the difference is between the touring and elite trims other than the seat configuration?

I too am nervous on a new engine year one like the Subaru but that’s what warranties are for, right?
 

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I’m looking at both too for my wife’s new family hauler. Does anyone know who has done research on the pilot what the difference is between the touring and elite trims other than the seat configuration?
From Honda's website, it looks like the Elite trim adds standard all wheel drive (it's an option on Touring) as well as second row heated captains chairs, blind spot information system, panoramic moon roof, and LED auto on/off headlights.

Both trims of Pilot are priced higher than the comparable trims (Limited and Touring) of the Ascent.
 

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From Honda's website, it looks like the Elite trim adds standard all wheel drive (it's an option on Touring) as well as second row heated captains chairs, blind spot information system, panoramic moon roof, and LED auto on/off headlights.

Both trims of Pilot are priced higher than the comparable trims (Limited and Touring) of the Ascent.
Thanks! I noticed the pricing was higher for each trim level. i don't know if its really worth it.
 

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@RiverRat.. my gut is telling me the AWD loaded Ascent will be less than the AWD loaded Pilot. Honda is typically the top of the price range. In my opinion the eyesight system offers more value than Honda's Sensing. ES can stop your car, Sensing only slows the car to mitigate impact. I don't believe the Pilot comes with low speed follow yet (meaning it can't do adaptive cruise control in stop and go traffic.) ES can, I use it daily and it is amazing. I believe the only option that Sensing does better is the side camera for lane changing. Subaru only offers a 180* front camera for front/side views, but not sure when/how that is available to view. Sensing does utilize radar and camera which is surely better than ES' camera alone, but I've been using ES for 3yrs and 50,000 and the camera's only deactivated 3x due to bad sun glare in Sept. Not enough of an inconvenience for me to require radar+camera setup.

- DVD player: I can see your point, but DVD is an older technology and I'm surprised it is still being implemented into cars. The alternative is a tablet on a mount. I find that much more useful b/c it can be updated, could stream if i wanted, could be used outside the vehicle etc. I understand the nicely wrapped screen/dvd player is enticing, but I just can't get past having DVDs floating around in the back seat with my kids. They would be destroyed/stepped on etc. 2.5y/5yr old.

- engine: I can't comment on how it will handle the weight of the car, but I've never cared too much about engine power, I'd rather have efficiency. Our 2011 4cyl outback is sufficient and our 2015 4cyl Legacy is sufficient.

- The BSM is on the inside of the mirror, not in the mirror glass itself. It is unlikely to chime based on previous models. People are divided on the sound or no sound. I prefer no sound.


good luck with your decision!!
$44K+ for the loaded Ascent. I don't think the Touring version is worth the $6,000 upgrade from the Limited! However, it is a value over the top of the line Pilot.
 

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Touring adds over Limited:

120 volt power outlet
Ambient interior lighting, dash and all
doors
Cargo area cover
Chrome exterior door handles
Exclusive Touring grille design
Floormats with Touring logo
Footwell lighting, rear
Satin chrome finish exterior mirrors,
foldable with integrated turn signals
Front View Monitor and Smart Rear View
Mirror with Camera
High-grade leather-wrapped steering
wheel with silver stitching
Java Brown perforated leather-trimmed
upholstery
Panoramic power moonroof with dual
glass panels and sunshade
Rain-sensing windshield wiper system
SUBARU STARLINK Multimedia
Navigation system with Harman Kardon
Quantum Logic Surround Sound 792-watt
equivalent amplifier and 14-speakers.
Ventilated front seats
Woodgrain pattern trim on center console
and upper door panels

You can get the Limited with Harman Kardon Premium Audio System + Panoramic Power
Moonroof + Navigation + Cargo Area Cover for $42000

So it comes down to $2700 difference between the Touring $44,695 vs Limited with similar features
 

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Touring adds over Limited:

120 volt power outlet
Ambient interior lighting, dash and all
doors
Cargo area cover
Chrome exterior door handles
Exclusive Touring grille design
Floormats with Touring logo
Footwell lighting, rear
Satin chrome finish exterior mirrors,
foldable with integrated turn signals
Front View Monitor and Smart Rear View
Mirror with Camera
High-grade leather-wrapped steering
wheel with silver stitching
Java Brown perforated leather-trimmed
upholstery
Panoramic power moonroof with dual
glass panels and sunshade
Rain-sensing windshield wiper system
SUBARU STARLINK Multimedia
Navigation system with Harman Kardon
Quantum Logic Surround Sound 792-watt
equivalent amplifier and 14-speakers.
Ventilated front seats
Woodgrain pattern trim on center console
and upper door panels

You can get the Limited with Harman Kardon Premium Audio System + Panoramic Power
Moonroof + Navigation + Cargo Area Cover for $42000

So it comes down to $2700 difference between the Touring $44,695 vs Limited with similar features
Good point, but for my tastes and budget I would stick with the Limited and use the $6,000 for something else in my life. No doubt those are some nice features, but mostly fluff.
 

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Honda pilots here in my area are insanely over priced. The 9spd AT has had lots of issues in what has become the classic Honda black eye junk ATs. Last of all never once have I ever met a Honda car owner with a positive warranty claim for a major failure.

I love honda outboards and Motorcycles but their cars and dealers have never once impressed me.
 

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I drove a 2017 Pilot EX-L for a bit. Generally, I liked it. It had the 6spd transmission, and was generally smooth with solid acceleration. A few key differences that helped me choose an Ascent:

1. Carplay standard in both, but the Ascent has (gasp) buttons, not only a touchscreen. With kids yelling in the back, this matters to me.

2. I didn't want to have to choose between captains chairs (which I want) and the lousy 9spd transmission

3. Prefer the styling of the Ascent. The pilot, before accessories, looks like a big jelly bean

4. The pilot's seats are crazy comfortable

5. The pilot's internal storage is great, like the modular extra space in the cargo area

6. Honda engine reliability vs. Subaru's history of issues (when considering a new engine)

7. The only early Ascent review suggests it might lack some passing power

Ultimately, I drive a Forester XT now and love it, but need the space of a three-row. If Honda didn't have the transmission issues, it might be a closer competition, but that moots out any reliability bonus I might give them. So it comes down to potential passing power vs. preferred aesthetic, functionality and pricing. I could definitely see someone going the other way, though, especially with the 6spd.
 

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Yup, I also narrowed it down to Pilot & Ascent... and I just placed a deposit down on the Ascent. Went to the auto show & test drove (outback & forester). Couple things stood out:

1.) The back of the Pilot looks like the Odyssey. It looks like a minvan from the back. I dunno why, but that bothered me. Maybe b/c if I wanted to look like a minivan, I would have ripped the bandaid off and just gotten all the family convenience of a minivan (which is pretty considerable).

2.) AWD. The rain here is considerable. Also live in Houston and after Harvey and watching Subaru's zip in and out of flood water without "much" issues was eye opening.

3.) The inside looks nicer to me. This is personal preference, but I loved the Java Brown two-tone. I know not everybody likes that look, but I do.

4.) EyeSight. We have toddlers running amuck in our neighborhood. The idea of someone darting out and it auto-braking was appealing. Lets hope we never have to "test" this out.
 
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