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I realize that likely I will received biased answers since you all have the ascent. But I am currently debating between the highlander hybrid and the ascent.

Couple of things that matter to me:
1. MPG. I've been seeing reports of low mpg for the ascent which worries me.
2. Safety in snow. I live in Michigan and have had issues with my current FWD vehicle getting stuck and not getting into my driveway. Both vehicles I'm looking at would be AWD.
3. Safety in general. Both seem pretty similar in what they are offering safety-wise.
4. Comfort. I have settled that I likely need to get leather seats (always had cloth before) because a baby will be joining us and my greyhound only sits in bench seats so he will be moved to the third row (the reason for the upgrade). I do not want real leather at all. I believe subaru uses synthetic leather. I've heard different things from toyota with their softex vs "genuine" leather. Some dealers telling me the genuine leather is genuine as advertised, others saying it is synthetic. Either way, I think they're deceiving people and I don't like that.
5. Features. Both seem similar in features. I do want heated seats/wheel and ambient lights because that's what I'm used to.
6. Warranty. Both seem similar in warranty, but toyota has two years free maintenance with toyota care, which is nice.

Any advice would appreciated.
Nicole
 

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I like Toyota hybrids but I am too tall to fit in the highlander.
1. MPG in the city is going to be much better in the Highlander.
2. The AWD on the Subaru is much better but If you only need it for short bursts the Highlander will work OK. If you want to do offroad driving where you will use the AWD for long periods the Ascent will be much better. From what I heard the Toyota has issues with the AWD system overheating on long AWD periods. But for driveway it should be OK
5 Extra features are cheaper in general for the Subaru.
6. Free maintenance is never rally free. It is just included in the cost and hidden in the final negotiated price. In Texas I got 2 years (really 24K miles) free maintenance because Subarus are not as popular in Texas.
 

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1. I am getting 23 mpg mostly city, but I drive it reasonably and only have a couple of lights to go through.
2. You can't go wrong with Subaru AWD. We need it to get up and down our steep driveway in the snow/ice and it is amazing.
3. Probably the same, safety wise.
4. The Highlander does not have much headroom, especially the further back you go in the rows, if you are on the taller side.
5. Again, the 2020 Highlander finally has all the extra features the Ascent had first (like Android Auto/Apple Carplay), I just feel like the Ascent's layout/design is easier to navigate/less overwhelming.
6. Some dealerships will throw in 24k miles maintenance.

I wanted a Highlander so bad. Still do. At least the 2021 XSE when it comes out. I just can't with the headroom and the very small 3rd row. Maybe when the oldest leaves for college...
 

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Regarding safety, both offer many of the same features, but third party testing pretty consistently identifes Subaru's EyeSight camera-based system to be among the most effective on the market. I haven't seen any specific comparisons of Ascent vs. Highlander, but EyeSight in general is regarded as one of the most effective available.

As to the genuineness of the leather in the Ascent, I couldn't be sure. I presume it is at least in part a natural product, but it doesn't much matter to me whether it's genuine cow hide or 100% vinyl. It feels pretty good to us and it meets our needs of: easy to clean, easy to maintain, and doesn't stick to clothing (cloth generally fails all of the above...at least traditional cloth fabrics do).

Fuel economy you get with the Ascent will, generally, be highly dependent on where and how you drive. If you live in "the city" with a lot of stop and go, then you'll probably not achieve the 20 mpg EPA estimate. If you live in a more suburban or rural area where average speeds are higher and you're not always encountering stop signs, then you'll probably achieve better than the 20 mpg EPA estimate. We get 21-22 mpg "in town" with ours, but we're in a semi-rural setting. If we sat at stoplights all day, then our mileage would be much worse.

I think Subaru's AWD is the best you'll find out there.

I consider this mostly unbiased, as this is the first Subaru we've owned. I've had two Toyotas before and I generally like their engineering and product design. The Highlander didn't work for us due to interior room and layout and styling. The price of entry is also quite high. We got a ton of vehicle for the money in the Ascent, and we've been very satisfied so far.
 

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I had the same dilemma - move to the Ascent or switch to the Highlander Hybrid.

For us, the better value was the Subaru based on our driving habits. I also did not want to move into a new vehicle in its first model year (Highlander Hybrid is new this model year). This is also the reason I avoided the Ascent for the first model year.

My use case is completely different than yours, so I'll leave it at: The Ascent was a better overall value for us.
 

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Either is a fine choice, provided you can fit yourself and all your stuff in either SUV.
I'd make sure to drive both, and decide from there. You might find one significantly more to your liking than the other.
But if you're considering the hybrid (vs the gas Highlander), fuel economy must be important to you, and any way you slice it, the Highlander hybrid is going to be the clear winner there.
 

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We just pre-ordered an Ascent, we test drove both the Ascent and Highlander. The new Highlander is beautiful, feature-rich, etc., but it was just too small for us. I'm 6 feet tall and my hair brushed the ceiling in the middle row, we were in the version with a panoramic moonroof which I know reduces headroom slightly. I couldn't get into the third row, but my partner felt like she could be reasonably comfortable for a multi-hour trip in the back row of the Ascent, whereas the Highlander felt like a torture chamber to her. We just didn't want to spend that kind of money for a car that was smaller than most in its class.
I have a 2000 Outback and have used all weather tires 12 months out of the year living in states with all types of snow conditions, driving mountain passes, Etc. Never had an issue. Hoping the Ascent will be the same, but I don't have any reason to believe it won't be.
 

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I realize that likely I will received biased answers since you all have the ascent. But I am currently debating between the highlander hybrid and the ascent.

Couple of things that matter to me:
1. MPG. I've been seeing reports of low mpg for the ascent which worries me. What is the mileage for the size vehicle are you looking to achieve. The rated mileage for the Ascent is pretty accurate. the concerns owners have are due to driving habits. I myself can get anywhere from 15 to 30 mpg. I tcompletely depends on terrain and mostly on how I manage the accelerator.
2. Safety in snow. I live in Michigan and have had issues with my current FWD vehicle getting stuck and not getting into my driveway. Both vehicles I'm looking at would be AWD. AWD are not all the same. IMO there is none better than the Ascent. You can certainly achieve better traction with any vehicle with the proper tires (true for Ascent as well), so choose the winter tires wisely. You can do better than the Ascent if you were to use the vehicle for lots of off roading in which case you could purchase a 4 wheel drive vehicle (again with proper tires).
3. Safety in general. Both seem pretty similar in what they are offering safety-wise. I would not advise going off titles of safety classifications. Subaru has been doing safety well for many years and again in my opinion their system is far superior than others.
4. Comfort. I have settled that I likely need to get leather seats (always had cloth before) because a baby will be joining us and my greyhound only sits in bench seats so he will be moved to the third row (the reason for the upgrade). I do not want real leather at all. I believe subaru uses synthetic leather. I've heard different things from toyota with their softex vs "genuine" leather. Some dealers telling me the genuine leather is genuine as advertised, others saying it is synthetic. Either way, I think they're deceiving people and I don't like that. My Limited Ascent is not real leather and should serve you well. I am not sure if it is the same material on the other trims. Seat comfort is purely an individual preference so I strongly suggest you experience enough seat time in any vehicle you are considering. there is no doubt the Ascent seats are on the firm side.
5. Features. Both seem similar in features. I do want heated seats/wheel and ambient lights because that's what I'm used to. The top of the steering wheel is not heated. I love the heated seats and steering wheel. Your preferences for ambient lighting can always be easily addressed with after market strategies regardless of what vehicle you purchase.
6. Warranty. Both seem similar in warranty, but toyota has two years free maintenance with toyota care, which is nice. the 2019 Ascent Limited was my first Subaru (I now own two Subarus and I am working on a third for maybe 2021). Subaru takes care of owners issues. The first two years maintainence is minimal costs so I would not suggest this be a factor in a purchase. Oil changes are not expensive. The rest of the vehicle is under warranty so what are you really talking about?

Any advice would appreciated.
Nicole
 

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I realize that likely I will received biased answers since you all have the ascent. But I am currently debating between the highlander hybrid and the ascent.

Couple of things that matter to me:
1. MPG. I've been seeing reports of low mpg for the ascent which worries me.
2. Safety in snow. I live in Michigan and have had issues with my current FWD vehicle getting stuck and not getting into my driveway. Both vehicles I'm looking at would be AWD.
3. Safety in general. Both seem pretty similar in what they are offering safety-wise.
4. Comfort. I have settled that I likely need to get leather seats (always had cloth before) because a baby will be joining us and my greyhound only sits in bench seats so he will be moved to the third row (the reason for the upgrade). I do not want real leather at all. I believe subaru uses synthetic leather. I've heard different things from toyota with their softex vs "genuine" leather. Some dealers telling me the genuine leather is genuine as advertised, others saying it is synthetic. Either way, I think they're deceiving people and I don't like that.
5. Features. Both seem similar in features. I do want heated seats/wheel and ambient lights because that's what I'm used to.
6. Warranty. Both seem similar in warranty, but toyota has two years free maintenance with toyota care, which is nice.

Any advice would appreciated.
Nicole
We too wanted the Highlander. Beautiful car. Safe. Reliable. Feature rich. Yes a bit smaller. No the AWD does not compare to the ascent. i Don’t factor in fuel efficiency. Highlander Is over priced And the ascent was way better value.
 

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The higher models of Ascent have a 5,000 tow rating , mostly larger radiator as I understand.
Primarily:
  • CVT Cooling radiator (vital)
  • Body harness to hook up trailer lights, brakes and power
  • Brake Controller connection point
 

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5. Features. Both seem similar in features. I do want heated seats/wheel and ambient lights because that's what I'm used to.
I missed this earlier -- the Touring trim has some nice ambient lighting features that make the cabin feel pretty warm (visually). There's some light piping that extends around the cabin under some of the door panel and dash panel crevices that you can't otherwise see. It lights up with a warm glow at night. This is user defeatable through the menus if you don't like it, and I think this is only in the Touring trim. Subaru do offer footwell lighting packages as accessories through the dealerships if you prefer that as well (installable on any trim as I understand).
 

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We looked at the Highlander. My wife's best friend has one so we were able to look at it very closely.

For us, the big knock on the Highlander was the third row. Yhe Ascent's 3rd row is better for adults. For a dog, probably doesn't matter.

We also get lots of snow/ice (Ontario), and everyone who has a Subaru swears by the AWD.

I did like the hybrid option on the Highlander (mpg on the Ascent seems to be not great; I have a roof box, so can't speak to that personally). And I like that it's an older model--the Ascent seemed to have major growing pains in the first couple years, and I expect that to continue a little (our 2 month old 2020 already had its liftgate latch replaced due to some sensor/control gremlins keeping the liftgate from opening). At least Subaru seems very good at customer service.
 

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I realize that likely I will received biased answers since you all have the ascent. But I am currently debating between the highlander hybrid and the ascent.

Couple of things that matter to me:
1. MPG. I've been seeing reports of low mpg for the ascent which worries me.
2. Safety in snow. I live in Michigan and have had issues with my current FWD vehicle getting stuck and not getting into my driveway. Both vehicles I'm looking at would be AWD.
3. Safety in general. Both seem pretty similar in what they are offering safety-wise.
4. Comfort. I have settled that I likely need to get leather seats (always had cloth before) because a baby will be joining us and my greyhound only sits in bench seats so he will be moved to the third row (the reason for the upgrade). I do not want real leather at all. I believe subaru uses synthetic leather. I've heard different things from toyota with their softex vs "genuine" leather. Some dealers telling me the genuine leather is genuine as advertised, others saying it is synthetic. Either way, I think they're deceiving people and I don't like that.
5. Features. Both seem similar in features. I do want heated seats/wheel and ambient lights because that's what I'm used to.
6. Warranty. Both seem similar in warranty, but toyota has two years free maintenance with toyota care, which is nice.

Any advice would appreciated.
Nicole
Long time Subaru owner here (driving Subarus since 1985) -- our 2019 Ascent Limited is our eighth Subaru. We owned a 2005 Toyota Sienna AWD minivan and it was a good vehicle other than the mpg (18 mpg was best we could do on the highway).

Regarding your request for advice.
1) As others have pointed out, the Highlander hybrid will win on MPG. So it would come down to how many miles you drive over the years to make up for the likely extra cost of the hybrid. We get 16 to 18 mpg with our Ascent when doing all city driving in our dense urban area -- 24 to 27 mpg on the highway.
2) Highlander AWD should help get you up your driveway. Subaru AWD is pretty well acknowledged as an industry leader. Using good winter tires should help with snow in either vehicle.
3) Safety -- probably no hard data to compare the safety systems of Toyota versus Subaru, but Eyesight is generally regarded as one of the best safety systems.
4) Comfort -- no comments since that is totally subjective depending on your taste.
5) Features -- again very similar as you noted. Would recommend both second and third row seat protectors since you have a dog. Also the rear bumper protector.
6). Warranty -- similar. Our local Subaru dealer provided 2 years of free maintenance and I think you could ask your Subaru dealer for that if you were purchasing an Ascent.

Other points -- Toyota is known for its reliability but Subaru usually is ranked right up there. I have found fantastic re-sale value when I traded or sold my Subaru vehicles.

Hope this helps. My wife is primary driver of the Ascent and she loves it. (I drive our 2010 Outback).
 

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I missed this earlier -- the Touring trim has some nice ambient lighting features that make the cabin feel pretty warm (visually). There's some light piping that extends around the cabin under some of the door panel and dash panel crevices that you can't otherwise see. It lights up with a warm glow at night. This is user defeatable through the menus if you don't like it, and I think this is only in the Touring trim. Subaru do offer footwell lighting packages as accessories through the dealerships if you prefer that as well (installable on any trim as I understand).
I can not imagine purchasing this level vehicle based on interior lighting.
 

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Got to ask, what is the brand / model of the trailer. It is nice.
Load Trail DS05 5200lb

I've only put 1 yard of gravel/rock in it, because they wet the stuff down here, making it really heavy, holds 2.2 yard wood cips flat to the top. Hydraulics are nice. My dodge truck with 5.2L (318) felt it's weight empty, Ascent not as much except the receiver socket is a bit loose and the hitch clunks around in it a lot.
But I abhor powder coat finish, it's really just melted plastic, flakes off and everything rusts under it.
 

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I'm a "fan" of the hybrid vehicles including the Highlander. We've had two Priuses and I drove an '06 Highlander Hybrid Limited for 6 years. It was a great vehicle then and likely still is. But I honestly didn't consider one when I was moving out of my '12 JGC to the Ascent. I wanted the Ascent, period. I did look at specifications for the Highlander, but my goal was space and Ascent was the real deal on that aspect. Already having two other Subarus in the driveway also contributed to the decision since Subaru's AWD and safety is pretty much unsurpassed. When you add in towing capacity, it checked all my boxes.

A childhood friend of mine did just buy a Highlander Hybrid this week and her comments have been very positive. I would expect that of most Toyota vehicles. And it's comforting to anticipate that most likely Toyota will be contributing a whole bunch of knowledge to Subaru for coming hybrid/EV vehicles, considering Toyota's partial ownership of Subaru.
 

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Hi geskenic

As Hokiefyd mentioned, the Highlander Hybrid AWD is an on demand system that is powered only by the electric motors. Therefore it is not a full time AWD system like the one on the Subaru. It is too bad Toyota did not use Subaru's AWD technology with the Highlander Hybrid. Fun fact, the current Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid (the plug-in model) uses Toyota's hybrid technology with Subaru's AWD system. If I remembered correctly, the Crosstrek Hybrid has a Subaru engine + Subaru AWD connected to a Toyota's transmission, battery and 3 electric motors.
 

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As Hokiefyd mentioned, the Highlander Hybrid AWD is an on demand system that is powered only by the electric motors. Therefore it is not a full time AWD system like the one on the Subaru. It is too bad Toyota did not use Subaru's AWD technology with the Highlander Hybrid.
This is true for the rear wheels...they are only powered by electric motors. It was that way with my '06 Highlander Hybrid Limited, too. It's a good system and the low end torque is incredible. It also removes any space requirement for drivetrain down the middle of the vehicle so that space can be used for batteries. But yes, it's not "full time" AWD.
 
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