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My wife and I are going on some follow up test-rides tomorrow at a Subaru dealer. We’re deciding between the Outback and the Ascent, in Premium or Limited trim.

The vehicle will primarily be for her, plus use it for family vacations. She presently drives a 13 year old Honda Odyssey. I have an Accord.

We’re a family of 3, plus 2 dogs. Live in NJ.

I’m way more of a car person than she is. I want to make the most of our morning of car shopping.

Pretty sure she prefers the Ascent, for the greater size for people and stuff, and higher ride height, greater power and refinement. Plus closer in size to what she has now.

I prefer the Outback for lower cost, better mpg, better handling, takes up less space in the garage, and because we simply don’t need a 7-8 passenger vesicles 95+% of the time.

We’re also weighing getting the Limited, largely due to the better headlights though I like most of the other perks as well, verses the Premium with the cloth interior we actually prefer.

Advice? Other criteria to be on the lookout for? Thanks!
 

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It’s nice to have the room - especially if you road trip with this vehicle.
Tough call - only you and the wife can really make the right decision.
Easy for me - never been a wagon or minivan guy, never will be.
CUVs, SUVs, Sport Coupes or Sedans for my family.
 

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We've had a bunch of Hondas and lots of wagons too. We bought a 2019 Ascent because of the crash test results and went with the Limited trim level to get the standard steering adaptive LED headlights which are quite amazing. Also the standard 3 zone HVAC and 2nd row sun shades on the Limited are great when traveling with dogs and kids too I guess.

If you have to leave your rear hatch open for extended periods, that can be a problem with the Ascent due to excessive battery drain.

We sold my wife's Accord Hybrid back to the dealer last month because she only wanted to drive the Subaru.

Have fun shopping!
 

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The bottom line here is always to go with what your spouse wants to drive... ;)

It's true that the Outback is more economical to drive than the Ascent. I can pull 30-31 mpg on the highway with Professor Dr. SWMBO's MY16 Outback Limited with Eyesight no problem. I average about 27 under the same conditions with my Ascent. But like your spouse, I prefer the larger vehicle...ride height, more upright seating position, etc., is more comfortable for me traveling. (And I've done four Florida round trips since taking delivery last May) With teens and their friends, the larger vehicle may also serve better if your spouse will be driving them around frequently. Out daughters are older (20 and 24 respectively) and if for some reason we are actually going someplace as a foursome, it's in the Ascent. One daughter is, um...a large woman...and that makes the second row in the Outback a little less comfortable. Of course, I could also be very happy in an Outback...great vehicle and current generations are pretty darn comfortable for me outside of my legs being bent a little more. So either choice will be good and it will likely come down to the actual driver's preference after driving both.
 
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We just bought an Ascent but considered the Outback. We chose the Ascent for reasons that don't apply to you. (We like the ease of carry a large amount of camping gear and a far superior roof rack for long kayaks.) We also took the Ascent on a 5 hour test drive that really sold us. You see, we had given both of them a short, half hour-ish test drive the day before and although the Outback was comfortable, the Ascent was clearly more comfortable. We anticipate a lot of long road trips and the comfort was a huge plus for us. In retrospect, we probably should have drive the Outback first because its ride was not bad, it is just that the Ascent in better.

I really wanted the Outback for many reasons, price, economy, performance etc... But the Ascent won. But... if the Outback didn't have a crappy roof rack we may have also taken it on a 5 hour test drive.
 

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We went from an Outback to the Ascent. While our Outback was the previous gen (2015-2019) its interior dimensions are pretty close to the new 2020 Outback. We're a family of four and while the Outback was fine for day to day driving it became a tighter fit when having 3 people in the back seat (such as when my mother-in-law was in town visiting and we'd all go somewhere) and we saw the benefit of the extra room that the Ascent has, whether from having a wider second row if you get the bench seat or getting easier access to the third row if you get the second row captains chairs. Plus as our kids have gotten older we've had more and more times where we need to take several of their friends along to various activities and the need for a third row became more important. We were often having to sideline the Outback and my wife would have to use our 14 year old Honda Pilot that we had kept as a third vehicle just for those times.

Additionally on road trips with a lot of gear, such as for Christmas when you're lugging presents to and from to visit extended family, the cargo hold of the Outback can start to get a little tight whereas if you're okay with the third row of the Ascent being folded down you've got a bunch more room to carry it all. It's also a rather handy and capable option to fold both rows down and have a ton of room for runs to Home Depot or IKEA. It's no pickup truck but it's a good-sized box for picking up bulky items. Another cargo-carrying benefit is that the Ascent can tow 5,000 lbs whereas the Outback is only good for 2,700 lbs (with the base engine) or 3,500 lbs (with the turbo), so if you ever foresee the need for a utility trailer or small travel trailer, or even just the need to rent a U-Haul trailer for a weekend project, you'll have more capability with the Ascent.

Another thing to consider between the two is the center controls. The Outback's huge touchscreen panel seems great, but personally I prefer having more hard buttons that can easily be pushed by feel instead of having to be more attentive and deliberate in trying to touch the screen in just the right spot to hit certain "buttons." So definitely give that a good luck when you check them out. Additionally while our Outback had rear A/C vents on the back of the center console they never seemed to be very effective, especially those first few minutes in the car during the hot summer days, whereas the Ascent's vents in the roof seem to push out a lot more air to help heat or cool the back. I'd hope that the newer Outback has better rear vents but you may check that out too.

Safety was initially what brought us to Subaru when we got our Outback, and while the Outback gets top marks across the board the larger mass of the Ascent will always make it the safer between the two since it's got about 700-800 lbs over the Outback, depending on trim levels. I'm not saying the Outback isn't safe, but when driving around here in Texas where everyone's got a full size pickup (I've got one too) it's nice knowing my wife and kids are as safe as they can be in a larger SUV that's got the best of the safety ratings.

Overall we loved our Outback and it was a nice mix between a car-like driving experience with some added versatility of the cargo area and were sad to get rid of it. But we've been really happy with our Ascent and it's been a good move. The additional room and versatility for road trips and the things you encounter with having kids is a huge benefit.
 

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We had the same quandary in 2018. Replace our 2011 Outback with another Outback or get an Ascent. We were planning for retirement and had already made a couple of short "retirement test trips" in the outback. We could get all of our biking gear, bike repair gear, as well as assorted other "essentials" in the Outback, but it was stuffed to the gills with the back seats folded down. We got the Ascent and haven't looked back. We can easily fit everything we need into the Ascent and still have the center row available to take a couple of friends to dinner. Also, with the same amount of stuff aboard, the Ascent is only moderately loaded and handles much better than a stuffed to the gills Outback. If you get another Outback, which meets your needs 95% of the time, what are you going to do the other 5%? Also, as Jim in PA hinted, going with what your spouse wants is usually a good idea: A happy wife is a happy life!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey guys can't thank you enough for these excellent insights. Thank you! So we took the morning and enjoyed some drives together, and the big surprise was . . . she actually liked the Outback more. What won her over was the opinion that the 3rd row is pretty tight in the Ascent, and takes away about an inch of 2nd row leg room. At one point she said, "Well if we got the Ascent I would always keep the 3rd row folded down." To which I replied, "Then maybe we should get something else."

Then, we decided to go to our Honda dealer, and she took out a Pilot, which reminds her a great deal of the Odyssey. She loved the greater interior space (though in my opinion its way more spartan). The main problem with the Pilot was that the headrest pushed her head too far forward when wearing a pony tail with her hair.

So it's between the Outback and the Pilot.

While at Subaru we also spotted the blacked out Onyx. Looks very cool. Any one have any experiences owning that? She also expressed a desire to try out the turbo engine in the OB. Anyone able to share that ownership experience?

And finally, tell me more about these 6 hour test-rides. How do I get one of those? Thanks!
 

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The ascent is the most comfortable long distance vehicle I have ever been in. We towed a TT for 24 hours straight and the ascent was very easy to be comfortable for 4 adults and two dogs. Just my $.02
 

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My wife and I are going on some follow up test-rides tomorrow at a Subaru dealer. We’re deciding between the Outback and the Ascent, in Premium or Limited trim.

The vehicle will primarily be for her, plus use it for family vacations. She presently drives a 13 year old Honda Odyssey. I have an Accord.

We’re a family of 3, plus 2 dogs. Live in NJ.

I’m way more of a car person than she is. I want to make the most of our morning of car shopping.

Pretty sure she prefers the Ascent, for the greater size for people and stuff, and higher ride height, greater power and refinement. Plus closer in size to what she has now.

I prefer the Outback for lower cost, better mpg, better handling, takes up less space in the garage, and because we simply don’t need a 7-8 passenger vesicles 95+% of the time.

We’re also weighing getting the Limited, largely due to the better headlights though I like most of the other perks as well, verses the Premium with the cloth interior we actually prefer.

Advice? Other criteria to be on the lookout for? Thanks!
Ascent limited
 

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So it's between the Outback and the Pilot.
Did you check out the Passport? Basically a shortened two-row Pilot that doesn't look like a minivan. Of course, I'ts still the same interior from 2016. (I vote Ascent!).
 

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At one point she said, "Well if we got the Ascent I would always keep the 3rd row folded down."
Honestly, that's a major reason why I bought the Ascent...the extra room in the back that comes with having a three row vehicle. I can count on one hand the number of times someone was in that back row and it was purely for convenience to avoid a second vehicle for a short trip with five people. Otherwise, my third row is always down. That extra space can make a difference when traveling for sure. (I came from a Grand Cherokee and very much wanted more interior space for "stuff" with a similar footprint/size)
 
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We're 90% sure we're going to pull the middle seats out of our Ascent and run it the limo configuration. It lets us easily change clothes after kayaking and gives us the possibility of an emergency sleeping area if we build a bed platform. (We would store all the camping stuff under the platform.) The later is probably never going to happen but the possibility is there.
 

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Honestly, that's a major reason why I bought the Ascent...the extra room in the back that comes with having a three row vehicle. I can count on one hand the number of times someone was in that back row and it was purely for convenience to avoid a second vehicle for a short trip with five people. Otherwise, my third row is always down. That extra space can make a difference when traveling for sure. (I came from a Grand Cherokee and very much wanted more interior space for "stuff" with a similar footprint/size)
I have had my Ascent for about six weeks and have never actually put the third row up after I put it down when I bought it. but going from a 2018 Outback to the ascent and having extra room and sitting up higher like I did when I used to own a truck is so much nicer. I do miss the gas mileage of my Outback though
 
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