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I test drove both tonight. We are looking for the cheapest 3 row SUV that has AWD and a full suite of safety features (auto braking, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert). I don't care much for the additional packages or features - sure leather seats or a big moonroof would be nice, but I'm not willing to pay much for it. So, that's where I'm coming from.

Subaru Ascent Premium vs CX-9 Sport with some $1500 package.

Ascent:
Good power. Comfortable seats, spacious leg area (driver/passenger). I liked the captains chair second row the easy of access to the back. Generally comfortable and reasonably spacious seating, even in the back row. It definitely drives larger than an Outback, but it wasn't unwieldy.

Wheels on the premium trim look ugly to me. Interior door/dash trim (the chunky white pieces) are **** weird. A real head scratcher to me. There was no need to do anything experimental or edgy here, but they did anyway. No clue what they were thinking, but it seriously soured me to the Ascent. It may sound petty, and I can't believe I'm typing this, but it might be enough for me to not buy one. I'm sure some people love it (and hopefully most do) but the trim along with the wheels are enough for me to consider upgrading to a Limited, which is not exactly in line with my "maximize value" mantra.

Overall I could see myself driving it, but it was not love at first sight. I definitely liked it, but nothing really stood out to me. Sort of boring and predictable overall...which is actually pretty appealing to me, but it's not an exiting car (except for the engine, perhaps)


CX-9:
I really liked the interior styling. The front leg/foot area is cramped compared to the Ascent - a real bummer. The seats seemed fine, but didn't stand out to me (hard to say without a week or so in the car, though). I liked the twisty-wheel based menu / settings navigation system. Engine was great - very peppy (probably comparable to the Ascent overall, but it comes on stronger in the low end - may just be throttle response programming, but may be a true difference). Ride quality was very good - quiet, firm but not at all jarring. No real spirited driving in either car, so hard to say for sure, but the CX-9 felt a lot more sure-footed. On a road course would it walk all over the Ascent? Maybe, maybe not, but in terms of driver feel it was definitely better. Brakes feel was better.

Back row seating was smaller than Ascent, but not as noticeable as I had expected. Note that the back row is only 2 seats vs 3 (2-1/2 ?) in the Ascent, so that could be a factor. Also the second row sliding tracks were not recessed into the floor but instead stuck proud of the floor...which would drive me crazy if I had to sit back there. I don't know for sure but I think the Ascent had the tracks concealed / flush with the floor (?)

Second row is bench only, which kind of makes sense given the fact that the back row is 2 seats...but it does make access to the back a bit harder.

Cargo area was definitely smaller on the CX-9. If people are seated in the back row (reclined) the head rests nearly touch the back window...so you can't stack things up high in the back...

Generally there isn't as much storage in the CX-9, which seems like a bad oversight. The console between the driver and passenger, for example, is fairly small and weirdly opens from the center to the left and right.

It's a hard comparison in some ways...If I had to make a choice right now (and I'd hate to have to do that), I'd pick the CX-9 if it were for me, and probably the Ascent if it was for the "rest of the family"
 

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I test drove both tonight. We are looking for the cheapest 3 row SUV that has AWD and a full suite of safety features (auto braking, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert). I don't care much for the additional packages or features - sure leather seats or a big moonroof would be nice, but I'm not willing to pay much for it. So, that's where I'm coming from.

Subaru Ascent Premium vs CX-9 Sport with some $1500 package.

Ascent:
Good power. Comfortable seats, spacious leg area (driver/passenger). I liked the captains chair second row the easy of access to the back. Generally comfortable and reasonably spacious seating, even in the back row. It definitely drives larger than an Outback, but it wasn't unwieldy.

Wheels on the premium trim look ugly to me. Interior door/dash trim (the chunky white pieces) are **** weird. A real head scratcher to me. There was no need to do anything experimental or edgy here, but they did anyway. No clue what they were thinking, but it seriously soured me to the Ascent. It may sound petty, and I can't believe I'm typing this, but it might be enough for me to not buy one. I'm sure some people love it (and hopefully most do) but the trim along with the wheels are enough for me to consider upgrading to a Limited, which is not exactly in line with my "maximize value" mantra.

Overall I could see myself driving it, but it was not love at first sight. I definitely liked it, but nothing really stood out to me. Sort of boring and predictable overall...which is actually pretty appealing to me, but it's not an exiting car (except for the engine, perhaps)


CX-9:
I really liked the interior styling. The front leg/foot area is cramped compared to the Ascent - a real bummer. The seats seemed fine, but didn't stand out to me (hard to say without a week or so in the car, though). I liked the twisty-wheel based menu / settings navigation system. Engine was great - very peppy (probably comparable to the Ascent overall, but it comes on stronger in the low end - may just be throttle response programming, but may be a true difference). Ride quality was very good - quiet, firm but not at all jarring. No real spirited driving in either car, so hard to say for sure, but the CX-9 felt a lot more sure-footed. On a road course would it walk all over the Ascent? Maybe, maybe not, but in terms of driver feel it was definitely better. Brakes feel was better.

Back row seating was smaller than Ascent, but not as noticeable as I had expected. Note that the back row is only 2 seats vs 3 (2-1/2 ?) in the Ascent, so that could be a factor. Also the second row sliding tracks were not recessed into the floor but instead stuck proud of the floor...which would drive me crazy if I had to sit back there. I don't know for sure but I think the Ascent had the tracks concealed / flush with the floor (?)

Second row is bench only, which kind of makes sense given the fact that the back row is 2 seats...but it does make access to the back a bit harder.

Cargo area was definitely smaller on the CX-9. If people are seated in the back row (reclined) the head rests nearly touch the back window...so you can't stack things up high in the back...

Generally there isn't as much storage in the CX-9, which seems like a bad oversight. The console between the driver and passenger, for example, is fairly small and weirdly opens from the center to the left and right.

It's a hard comparison in some ways...If I had to make a choice right now (and I'd hate to have to do that), I'd pick the CX-9 if it were for me, and probably the Ascent if it was for the "rest of the family"
I actually like the "chunky white pieces" in the dash... finally a car gives you a place to put your phone.. so you don't have to put it in the cupholder.

And I guess looks are subjective, because I see nothing wrong with the premium wheels.

And the CX-9 SHOULD handle better than the Ascent. It is smaller afterall. If I wanted a smaller car and didn't want the cargo space, I would have gone for the CX-9. Ascent handles just fine IMO. Almost as good as my previous car... a Jetta.
 

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I had test driven both prior to purchasing as well. For my family, though, one of the main reasons we were looking at a 3 row SUV was mainly for the trunk space (most of the time the third row would be down for us, but we like the flexibility of being able to add an occasional passenger or two as needed).

I too felt the low end was very nice on both the Ascent and CX-9, as opposed to say the Honda Pilot (which felt comfortable but very mushy and underpowered). The trunk space on the CX-9 is just... well... sad. Interior materials were slightly more upscale overall in the CX-9, but the ascent actually isn’t that far behind IMHO. Agree the armrest center console has a weird split opening. Did NOT like the rotary infotainment input device, but again, that’s just me. The premium wheels - yeah I can see what u mean. But there are certain limited and touring model owners who *want* to trade down to the 18” premium / standard wheels if you wanna try to hook up with one of them and do a swap after the fact....just a thought.

Who will be driving / using the car in your family? Any other major use drivers to take into consideration? Also it may not really matter to you but I did notice that Mazda charges extra for certain paint colors (which I found to be really... odd in this day and age).

I guess for me the choice between the two was really easy as trunk space was one of our primary needs / wants, followed by the low end “get up and go” for me (as the main driver). I’ve had my ascent Limited for almost a month now, and I still am really happy with the car. Good luck on your decision and let us know if we can help with any more information (you do realize you’re on a forum where you’re likely to get pro subaru feedback, right? ? )
 

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I test drove both tonight. We are looking for the cheapest 3 row SUV that has AWD and a full suite of safety features (auto braking, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert). I don't care much for the additional packages or features - sure leather seats or a big moonroof would be nice, but I'm not willing to pay much for it. So, that's where I'm coming from.

Subaru Ascent Premium vs CX-9 Sport with some $1500 package.

Ascent:
Good power. Comfortable seats, spacious leg area (driver/passenger). I liked the captains chair second row the easy of access to the back. Generally comfortable and reasonably spacious seating, even in the back row. It definitely drives larger than an Outback, but it wasn't unwieldy.

Wheels on the premium trim look ugly to me. Interior door/dash trim (the chunky white pieces) are **** weird. A real head scratcher to me. There was no need to do anything experimental or edgy here, but they did anyway. No clue what they were thinking, but it seriously soured me to the Ascent. It may sound petty, and I can't believe I'm typing this, but it might be enough for me to not buy one. I'm sure some people love it (and hopefully most do) but the trim along with the wheels are enough for me to consider upgrading to a Limited, which is not exactly in line with my "maximize value" mantra.

Overall I could see myself driving it, but it was not love at first sight. I definitely liked it, but nothing really stood out to me. Sort of boring and predictable overall...which is actually pretty appealing to me, but it's not an exiting car (except for the engine, perhaps)


CX-9:
I really liked the interior styling. The front leg/foot area is cramped compared to the Ascent - a real bummer. The seats seemed fine, but didn't stand out to me (hard to say without a week or so in the car, though). I liked the twisty-wheel based menu / settings navigation system. Engine was great - very peppy (probably comparable to the Ascent overall, but it comes on stronger in the low end - may just be throttle response programming, but may be a true difference). Ride quality was very good - quiet, firm but not at all jarring. No real spirited driving in either car, so hard to say for sure, but the CX-9 felt a lot more sure-footed. On a road course would it walk all over the Ascent? Maybe, maybe not, but in terms of driver feel it was definitely better. Brakes feel was better.

Back row seating was smaller than Ascent, but not as noticeable as I had expected. Note that the back row is only 2 seats vs 3 (2-1/2 ?) in the Ascent, so that could be a factor. Also the second row sliding tracks were not recessed into the floor but instead stuck proud of the floor...which would drive me crazy if I had to sit back there. I don't know for sure but I think the Ascent had the tracks concealed / flush with the floor (?)

Second row is bench only, which kind of makes sense given the fact that the back row is 2 seats...but it does make access to the back a bit harder.

Cargo area was definitely smaller on the CX-9. If people are seated in the back row (reclined) the head rests nearly touch the back window...so you can't stack things up high in the back...

Generally there isn't as much storage in the CX-9, which seems like a bad oversight. The console between the driver and passenger, for example, is fairly small and weirdly opens from the center to the left and right.

It's a hard comparison in some ways...If I had to make a choice right now (and I'd hate to have to do that), I'd pick the CX-9 if it were for me, and probably the Ascent if it was for the "rest of the family"

have you looked at the Highlander? Might suit your needs. You can also get some AMAZING deals from Toyota, 3/4/5 grand off MSRP.
 

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If you’re in Denver, you can probably get about $4k off MSRP at heubegerger.

The cx9 is actually a bit longer than the ascent, despite it looking a lot smaller. That’s one of my complaints about the cx9: it’s longer than most of its competition, yet the storage space is completely abysmal.
 

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I purchased the car you tested, although mine has option 12 and some other small options. The chunky ivory pieces are the same in the limited and touring without the vinyl wrap. You could always have them re-done in CF wrap and maybe in a another color? I too find the premiums wheels ok. The 20's look better but more expensive to replace and tire options are limited. Premium models are always your best bang for the buck in any Subaru car. The Ascent is a very nice car but when you cross that low to mid 40's price range I think they loose there value a little. I also got about 4k off msrp!
 

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If you truly hated the interior ivory pieces that you're describing, I'm thinking that you could order parts from a limited trim in the color preference you want and replace them? It may cost a little more, but you could do it, right?
 

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If you truly hated the interior ivory pieces that you're describing, I'm thinking that you could order parts from a limited trim in the color preference you want and replace them? It may cost a little more, but you could do it, right?
The Limited and Touring trims still use the Ivory color for these trim pieces regardless of seat color. The difference is that in Limited and Touring the pieces are leather wrapped in Ivory vs being Ivory colored plastic with a checker pattern texture.

I have now seen plenty of people who dislike this Ivory trim post on this forum (including myself), and very few who really like that design decision. Hopefully Subaru offers at least some different options with those trim pieces in the future.
 
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The Limited and Touring trims still use the Ivory color for these trim pieces regardless of seat color. The difference is that in Limited and Touring the pieces are leather wrapped in Ivory vs being Ivory colored plastic with a checker pattern texture.

I have now seen plenty of people who dislike this Ivory trim post on this forum (including myself), and very few who really like that design decision. Hopefully Subaru offers at least some different options with those trim pieces in the future.
Those interior trim pieces will be one of the first changes when Subaru refreshes the vehicle, IMHO. They would be fine, if they blended in more with the rest of the interior.
 

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Those interior trim pieces will be one of the first changes when Subaru refreshes the vehicle, IMHO. They would be fine, if they blended in more with the rest of the interior.
I hope you're right. I just do not like them. They encroach into the passenger cabin and create a light colored horizontal surface that will just collect and hold dust, while offering absolutely no practical purpose for me.

The one big drawback for the CX-9 is the woefully inadequate cargo space for a mid-size suv. I'm waiting to see what changes they make for the 2019 model, but I can't imagine them improving cargo space without redesigning the body, and don't get the impression that will be happening this coming model year.

One thing that bugs me about both is the sizable gap between 2nd and 3rd row when both are folded which is how I will be using it. This seems to be a universal feature of 3-row SUVs, but I don't understand why. A flat, gap-free cargo area when all seats are folded sure would be desirable for maximum functionality.
 

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One thing that bugs me about both is the sizable gap between 2nd and 3rd row when both are folded which is how I will be using it. This seems to be a universal feature of 3-row SUVs, but I don't understand why. A flat, gap-free cargo area when all seats are folded sure would be desirable for maximum functionality.

Yep! I can handle the slight incline from the 2nd row but the gap is problematic. One reason I bought this car was to have the extra length to sleep in it. I've filled the gap with foam. Not ideal but works ok.
 

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Heuberger definitely has the best price in town. You can get a fully loaded limited for $40K at Heuberger when all other dealerships are charging around $43k-$44k. The service from Heuberger is also amazing. We went to the dealership on Arapahoe and had to leave right after the test drive but we asked our sales guy to send us some numbers and info but never heard from him again...even after calling to remind him. Tommy at Heuberger answered all of our questions over the next couple weeks and never rushed us into making a decision.
 

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I completely agree. Yes, the trim looks much better wrapped in leather on the limited and touring but the leather should match the seats. My wife and I are considering having the trim redone at a custom shop.
 

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I just rented a CX-9 on a business trip last week. This was a touring model with FWD only so first thing i noticed was the power and then the torque steer. It was minimal compared to years ago but still present and with 300+ torques that car really needs the awd system (however front biased it is). Power was nice and it felt almost instantaneous - a little less lag than the ascent.

Interior fit and finish is not as refined as Ascent (never thought I'd say that about a subaru!) and the interior space is smaller and feels smaller in the driver seat (surprisingly so) even though its still a very large vehicle. The CX-9 I had also had their lane keep, ACC system and it is not even in the same class it seems as Subaru's eyesight. I found it clumsy to use and hard to tell when it was or was not on and working. The lane departure would be hit or miss compared to eyesight when you know its on and working.

trying to be as objective as possible I'd still choose the Ascent if only for the luxury interior (I know the sig trim of the cx-9 is more fancy but I cannot speak to that) and more space inside.
 

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I'm honestly surprised we are not seeing more people compare the Ascent to the Traverse. Having driven a lot of the competition in this class recently I'd actually choose the Traverse second to the Ascent. Pilot/Highlander are interchangeable in 3rd/4th. I'd put the CX-9 just ahead of the Atlas, Explorer and Pathfinder.

1. Ascent
2. Traverse
3. Pilot
4. Highlander
5. CX9
6. Atlas
7. Explorer
8. Pathfinder
 

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I know the Traverse was recently remodeled but I rented one a few years ago. It felt and drove big. I had a hard time judging it.
 

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I'm honestly surprised we are not seeing more people compare the Ascent to the Traverse. Having driven a lot of the competition in this class recently I'd actually choose the Traverse second to the Ascent. Pilot/Highlander are interchangeable in 3rd/4th. I'd put the CX-9 just ahead of the Atlas, Explorer and Pathfinder.

1. Ascent
2. Traverse
3. Pilot
4. Highlander
5. CX9
6. Atlas
7. Explorer
8. Pathfinder
I checked the Traverse High Country out and Buick Avenier ...both very similar and built on same platform at same factory....for the money the Traverse beats the Buick....and I ‘d agree that it was second on my list ....but it’s bigger at 204 inches in length and really didn’t need that much space and the tight garage fit. Best value for the $$$ is the Ascent!
 

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I test drove both tonight. We are looking for the cheapest 3 row SUV that has AWD and a full suite of safety features (auto braking, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert). I don't care much for the additional packages or features - sure leather seats or a big moonroof would be nice, but I'm not willing to pay much for it. So, that's where I'm coming from.

Subaru Ascent Premium vs CX-9 Sport with some $1500 package.

Ascent:
Good power. Comfortable seats, spacious leg area (driver/passenger). I liked the captains chair second row the easy of access to the back. Generally comfortable and reasonably spacious seating, even in the back row. It definitely drives larger than an Outback, but it wasn't unwieldy.

Wheels on the premium trim look ugly to me. Interior door/dash trim (the chunky white pieces) are **** weird. A real head scratcher to me. There was no need to do anything experimental or edgy here, but they did anyway. No clue what they were thinking, but it seriously soured me to the Ascent. It may sound petty, and I can't believe I'm typing this, but it might be enough for me to not buy one. I'm sure some people love it (and hopefully most do) but the trim along with the wheels are enough for me to consider upgrading to a Limited, which is not exactly in line with my "maximize value" mantra.

Overall I could see myself driving it, but it was not love at first sight. I definitely liked it, but nothing really stood out to me. Sort of boring and predictable overall...which is actually pretty appealing to me, but it's not an exiting car (except for the engine, perhaps)


CX-9:
I really liked the interior styling. The front leg/foot area is cramped compared to the Ascent - a real bummer. The seats seemed fine, but didn't stand out to me (hard to say without a week or so in the car, though). I liked the twisty-wheel based menu / settings navigation system. Engine was great - very peppy (probably comparable to the Ascent overall, but it comes on stronger in the low end - may just be throttle response programming, but may be a true difference). Ride quality was very good - quiet, firm but not at all jarring. No real spirited driving in either car, so hard to say for sure, but the CX-9 felt a lot more sure-footed. On a road course would it walk all over the Ascent? Maybe, maybe not, but in terms of driver feel it was definitely better. Brakes feel was better.

Back row seating was smaller than Ascent, but not as noticeable as I had expected. Note that the back row is only 2 seats vs 3 (2-1/2 ?) in the Ascent, so that could be a factor. Also the second row sliding tracks were not recessed into the floor but instead stuck proud of the floor...which would drive me crazy if I had to sit back there. I don't know for sure but I think the Ascent had the tracks concealed / flush with the floor (?)

Second row is bench only, which kind of makes sense given the fact that the back row is 2 seats...but it does make access to the back a bit harder.

Cargo area was definitely smaller on the CX-9. If people are seated in the back row (reclined) the head rests nearly touch the back window...so you can't stack things up high in the back...

Generally there isn't as much storage in the CX-9, which seems like a bad oversight. The console between the driver and passenger, for example, is fairly small and weirdly opens from the center to the left and right.

It's a hard comparison in some ways...If I had to make a choice right now (and I'd hate to have to do that), I'd pick the CX-9 if it were for me, and probably the Ascent if it was for the "rest of the family"
Having looked at all of the competition my wife and I chose the Touring Ascent for the EyeSight system. Hopefully the Ascent will test well with the IIHS. Another reason for our Ascent purchase... my wife is short and this car fit her best. We live in Las Vegas, NV... the streets are wide and the speed limit is 45. Many drivers abuse the limit by a lot. Many drivers in this town are rude and dangerous, therefore, having a safe car is darn important!
 

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Yep! I can handle the slight incline from the 2nd row but the gap is problematic. One reason I bought this car was to have the extra length to sleep in it. I've filled the gap with foam. Not ideal but works ok.
I've had an Atlas as a rental recently and I can tell you that there is very minimal gap between the second and third rows when both are folded down. The cargo room in the Atlas is the best thing about that car. When the second and third rows are folded down you get a huge continuous flat surface for cargo. For a lot of other reasons, I still much prefer the Ascent but the cargo space is definitely much more useable in the Atlas.
 
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