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2021 Ascent Limited Abyss Blue Pearl
135 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Weather and health conditions permitting, we are planning a long road trip in a month of about 3,600 miles. We were curious about the mileage and performance we might expect, so we took our 2021 Ascent on a short trip of about 240 miles today, driving from Phoenix metro to Prescott, AZ and back again.

The ascent from Phoenix is about 4,000 feet into Prescott, then back to 1,200 feet. We were in a wide range of traffic from local, in city, city highway, interstate, big hills up and down climbing up I17 to the Mogollon ("muggy on") Rim and back. We used AC, heat and off for climate control. We also used cruise control when we could.

We passed 2,000 miles on the trip. We used regular gas, 87 octane, winter blend, from Costco.

I think this was a pretty representative and realistic experiment and was pleased to see an average MPG of 27.5 on the trip computer over the 240 miles. We're getting about 21.5 in town. The attached photo below was from near central Phoenix, about 20 miles from home.

We traded a 2013 Acura RDX for the Subaru.. The Acura had a very nice 6 cylinder that I really enjoyed. It generated 270 horsepower, and of course the Ascent is the turbo 4 and weighs about 800-900 lbs more. The Subaru's turbocharged horsepower is a little less at 260 but it generates more torque which seemed to help on the hils.

The RDX was a cramped 5 passenger SUV, six speed automatic with AWD in the spirit of the Honda CRV. We have an Ascent US Limited trim with the middle bench seat so it seats 8, kinda.

The mileage on the same trip with the Acura would have been almost exactly the same. I would have expected about 27 mpg.

The Subaru provided lots of good power while climbing the hills. I never wanted for more. The CVT was very steady and predictable, even when we were passing on hills. It was a lot easier to drive on steep inclines than the RDX was, which often searched for the right gear.

We drove the Ascent in Drive most of the time. I did like being able to "down shift" to hold speed on downhill slopes. Otherwise, I didn't use the Manual shift position and simply let the CVT do its thing.

I was quite surprised at how quiet the Ascent was at highway speeds. I think around town it's a little noisy in the cabin, but cruising at 80 mph, listening to the music and talking with my wife was very comfortable. It was very similar to the Acura in terms of road noise on the highway.

Neither of us were huge fans of the lane centering feature. There are lots of windy roads and lane centering just struggled next to the hills and overlooks. I think on long straight stretches it will be more useful.
We really loved the adaptive cruise control. That was very helpful.

This being our first mini-road trip, we were very satisfied!

2020 CWP Touring
1,159 Posts
The CVT was very steady and predictable, even when we were passing on hills. It was a lot easier to drive on steep inclines than the RDX was, which often searched for the right gear.
I think the CVT is just brilliant out on the road. Our other cars (Acura MDX and Honda Ridgeline) have one fewer gear than your RDX (5-speed autos), and there's certainly a noticeable change in power and noise with a high throttle gear change for a hill or passing, accompanied by a shift shock. The CVT is just so smooth in that scenario.

Even at lower 35-55mph on secondary roads. I'm always cognizant of the road speed in our other cars. You get those speeds where a stepped automatic is sort of "in between" gears. It may upshift and be barely able to maintain that speed. Then it has to downshift, etc. The CVT is totally liberating in that regard -- it doesn't care what your road speed is. It just drives it.

And nice mileage, too. It should even improve a little from here, as the car further breaks in.
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