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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As part of anyone's search for a new vehicle, they are bound to Google something like "Ascent 2021 review" and see Car and Driver's review as they have, IMHO, one of the best visual layouts for their reviews and don't bait you in like Edmunds, and US News with your personal information entry for local deals.

But, there's numerous inconsistencies in their reviews and I believe they shortchanged the Ascent mightily.

2019: 9/10 rating: 2019 Subaru Ascent Review, Pricing, and Specs

Overall a balanced review but C&D focuses too much on agressive driving and you won't see a good understanding of torque at low gears vs highway driving because they are always putting pedal to the metal and not appreciating you don't need to do that.

2020: 6/10 rating: 2020 Subaru Ascent Review, Pricing, and Specs

No real reason for the drop from 9/10 to 6/10 as they repeated the exact same review almost verbatim and simply highlight new features added like seat belt indicators.

The actual reason they lowered it was they took a 2019 out on the road for extended duty and by either their driving or their luck ran over a nail and got a rock kicked up that cracked the windshield. But they act like it's the vehicle's fault and summarize the cost of fixing those with the single 30k maintenance trip they paid for, which is a very cheap shot at the Ascent for the sake of happenstance:


2021: 6/10 rating: 2021 Subaru Ascent Review, Pricing, and Specs

Still stuck on 6/10 and for no newer reasons, just repeating 2019's and 2020's review comments.

I will say that I read the 2021 review before test driving and I could not disagree more with the review's main points:

1. Noisy cabin: much, much quieter than our 2013 Dodge Journey, and even quieter than the Mazda CX-9 we test drove a day earlier. In fact they love the Mazda but it sits lower, has less visibility and made us feel claustrophobic in it.

2. Apathetic highway passing power. Again, 260 HP is destroying our Dodge's 173 HP (we have the I4 SE trim) and provides a ton more passing power on the highway. I guess C&D does the NCAA selection committee method which is to highlight deficits of vehicle (A) compared to vehicle (B) (e.g., Ascent doesn't have the storage of the VW Atlas), but then reviewing vehicle (B) not ever bring up what (A) has over it.

And one thing that also cheese's me: Subaru Cars and SUVs: Reviews, Pricing, and Specs

They put the Outback in as smaller than the Forester and Ascent, and clearly this was supposed to be the Crosstrek
 

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2021 Ascent Touring Brilliant Bronze
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"Drinks heavily when towing" ... duh ... what vehicle doesn't. My policy when towing, regardless of the vehicle: look at the fuel gauge, not the MPG readings :)
 

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Mind you, they are an enthusiast magazine, and you are comparing the Ascent to a 4-cylinder car that is 8 years old ( that admittedly in the past has been a punching bag for some of my jokes about most cars in the class being competent).
I think you also have to consider some of the new releases in the past two years like the Telluride / Palisade, or Highlander, whereas the Ascent understandably is still largely the same car it was in '19, as it hasn't even gone through its mid cycle refresh yet.

I don't think it diminishes anything about the car still being very good- it's not as if it suddenly got worse than it was 3 years ago, it's just that there's newer competition now that have upped the game.

It's always good to have choices, and good ones, as it drives the competition to do better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah it's selective reviewing like what the NCAA selection committee does for basketball: we'll give you a reason do degrade a team, but when we like a different team with the exact same reason, we leave it out.

A la, the Ascent being thirsty (e.g., 9 mpg) when towing almost 5k but show me a review where they towed the same and it didn't lower the gas mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mind you, they are an enthusiast magazine, and you are comparing the Ascent to a 4-cylinder car that is 8 years old ( that admittedly in the past has been a punching bag for some of my jokes about most cars in the class being competent).
I think you also have to consider some of the new releases in the past two years like the Telluride / Palisade, or Highlander, whereas the Ascent understandably is still largely the same car it was in '19, as it hasn't even gone through its mid cycle refresh yet.

I don't think it diminishes anything about the car still being very good- it's not as if it suddenly got worse than it was 3 years ago, it's just that there's newer competition now that have upped the game.

It's always good to have choices, and good ones, as it drives the competition to do better.
True on that point. I test drove the Hyundai and the Kia but they both wanted between $3 and $5k above MSRP and C/D does not ever discuss those things.

They also don't bring up resale value with Kia and Hyundai which is a key differentiator against Subaru (where Subi comes out on top).

So yes, that is an enthusiast's magazine and they love high HP and power in general. Kind of like a movie reviewer who really focuses on drama but just isn't qualified to review a horror film.
 

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On performance, my most previous vehicle was a Grand Cherokee with the 5.7L HEMI sporting 360 hp, albeit at 5300+ lbs. Honestly, my Ascent, in the very, very rare moment that I put the skinny pedal to the floor, accelerates quite impressively given the 4600+ lb weight and having half the cylinders and displacement. Is it as good as 100hp more? Probably not, But it still satisfies. For raw towing power, the former was and is certainly a better choice, but fuel economy goes in the toilet there, too, with many folks going 8-12mpg when towing heavy.
 
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The same reason the RAV4 is constantly rated higher than the Forester for off-road capability. It is better. The Ascent cannot do all things and Subaru owners should not be insulted in the least by a few shortcomings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The same reason the RAV4 is constantly rated higher than the Forester for off-road capability. It is better. The Ascent cannot do all things and Subaru owners should not be insulted in the least by a few shortcomings.
Torque news says differently when they compared 2020's Toyota RAV4 TRD (off road trim) to 2020 Forester. Forester did quite well!

 

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In the end that's why there are choices.I don't think we need to get into the minutiae of which car is better ( well, this is a Subaru forum, so the argument is irrelevant :) ) they're all very good and each serves a significant segment of the market based off sales volume. I don't think I'll ever need the full capability of my all-wheel drive cars, but knowing that I have one car with the Subaru system, and another with the JLR system, I'm very confident (unless I do something really stupid), with cautious driving, I should be able to get through anything, especially with winter tires installed.

Just as an aside, is the Outback considered a more up- level car than the Forester? I've had both as loners, and I found the Outback to be considerably nicer in both the interior, and driving characteristics. Both were 2020s, and mid level trims, with the base engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@Percy Garris Yes to your question if the Outback is considered more up-model in comparison to Forester.

I believe the chain is: Crosstrek -> Forester -> Outback -> Ascent

That goes with cargo space (behind 2nd row grows from Crosstrek to Outback, then 3rd row in Ascent). Interior and some other improvements along the chain but you get the general idea.

Ideologically, Subaru would do best to get the 2.4L Turbo Boxer Turbo charged 4 cylinder engine into all of these (plus all sedans) and then innovate on the common engine and transmission. I believe they are going in this direction while simultaneously looking at the right vehicle to introduce hybrid into (e.g., 2021 Crosstrek, 2022 Forester).

As Toyota did, would love to see non-plugin hybrid dual engines paired with 2.4L Turbo Boxer 4 cylinder engine but that's a tough ask given the Boxer's lateral layout, hence some innovation is needed.
 
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I believe the chain is: Crosstrek -> Forester -> Outback -> Ascent
This might seem logical, but IMHO, Forester and Outback are more parallel, albeit with a little size difference. In general, they tend to appeal to a different market with one being what historically has been more referred to as a station wagon and the other more of an CUV/SUV. There is not a huge price difference, either. We have all three of the latter four models in your list since Professor Dr. SWMBO went to a Forester Limited this past March from driving an Outback Limited. Our younger daughter is in the MY16 Outback Limited now instead of the MY11 Outback Limited she was driving previously. The more upright seating and better visibility that the Forester offers were a better choice for my spouse this time around. The utility is similar other than in raw cargo space...which doesn't matter here. They are equally "luxurious", albeit the newer vehicle has more and better tech because time marches on. In fact, Our Forester and Ascent are remarkably similar, other than in physical size and power. Bouncing between them for me is an almost "no difference" feeling, unlike when I occasionally drive the Outback. (I'm sure a Gen 6 Outback would feel closer, however, due to the platform change that's shared with Forester and Ascent, not to mention Crosstrek)

I think you will be seeing hybrid and EV as time passes, especially given Toyota's chunk of ownership in Subaru. That may come with mid-cycle refresh for some vehicles or next gen for others. Crosstrek is already available in limited quantities as a hybrid, BTW.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This might seem logical, but IMHO, Forester and Outback are more parallel, albeit with a little size difference. In general, they tend to appeal to a different market with one being what historically has been more referred to as a station wagon and the other more of an CUV/SUV. There is not a huge price difference, either. We have all three of the latter four models in your list since Professor Dr. SWMBO went to a Forester Limited this past March from driving an Outback Limited. Our younger daughter is in the MY16 Outback Limited now instead of the MY11 Outback Limited she was driving previously. The more upright seating and better visibility that the Forester offers were a better choice for my spouse this time around. The utility is similar other than in raw cargo space...which doesn't matter here. They are equally "luxurious", albeit the newer vehicle has more and better tech because time marches on. In fact, Our Forester and Ascent are remarkably similar, other than in physical size and power. Bouncing between them for me is an almost "no difference" feeling, unlike when I occasionally drive the Outback. (I'm sure a Gen 6 Outback would feel closer, however, due to the platform change that's shared with Forester and Ascent, not to mention Crosstrek)

I think you will be seeing hybrid and EV as time passes, especially given Toyota's chunk of ownership in Subaru. That may come with mid-cycle refresh for some vehicles or next gen for others. Crosstrek is already available in limited quantities as a hybrid, BTW.
Right, I wrote Crosstek 2021 for it's current, albeit limited hybrid.

Just noting that Forester is fully a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine across the trim line; Outback is as well unless you go for the XT 3 trims whereby it gets the Ascent's 2.4L Turbo 4-cylinder.

Your Ascent Touring should be peppier than Prof Dr. SWMBO by a good deal, but the good Dr. would get much better mileage.
 

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Your Ascent Touring should be peppier than Prof Dr. SWMBO by a good deal, but the good Dr. would get much better mileage.
Yes, if you press the skinny pedal down hard, there is certainly a power difference and yes, the Forester gets better fuel economy...it's a lighter vehicle with a smaller wind footprint. "I" can easily get about 29-30 mpg in general rural driving in the Forester. My other half...not so much; nor my daughter. They both have a different driving style than I do. I get about 21 in general rural driving with my Ascent at this point which I'm very pleased with given my previous vehicle delivered about 16 in the summer under the same circumstances with it's big V8. ;)
 

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I read that C&D review, too. I really did not understand how they could justify dinging the car for the tire and windshield incidents (insert rolling eyes and "whatever" here).

I read the rest of that review, and others from that source more critically thereafter. Best to triangulate sources and discount highs and lows appropriately anyway.
 
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