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I had a 2019 ascent and I switched it to a 2020 awd highlander Hybrid limited. Both cars are great. The ascent is more spacious in rear seats specially for tall people. You can’t beat the highlander mpg. They drive very similar. Highlander interior is better quality And quite but also depends what you are using it for. I traded in my ascent due to falling on recall for transmission, wife got scared!!!. Both are great cars. Knowing what I know now I will stay with highlander hybrid just for mpg and slight more high quality interior. But I am not using hitch nor off road. Keep in mind the limited and higher trims of highlander don’t have a hitch. Hitch only available up to Xle trim.
 

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That is really good to know! I'm in Lansing and drive 496 to MSU. People drive insane on highways especially in terrible conditions so I def want something with a good system to begin with.

I was originally looking at the touring trim because of some of the features but then the real leather turned me off. Now looking at the premium trim.

The Toyota dealer let me borrow a Highlander to see if my dog would get in it and he had a lot of trouble getting in and out. Hopefully he will have less trouble with the ascent. The Chevy traverse has ample room getting into the backseat but I've heard mixed things about Chevy.
Another Lansing area Ascent here! We bought our '19 Limited 9/18 and after the break in took an 8,400 mile Winter trip out West. We have had zero problems in 2 years and only had normal service and the recalls done.

Started with Subaru in '82 then switched to Honda's for 30 years, came back for the safety and the cargo space. This past January my wife sold her beloved Honda Accord Hybrid because she only wanted to drive the Accent. It's awesome in the winter.

You can't beat Williams Subaru in Lansing, by far the best dealership in the area in my opinion, especially the service department.

PM me if you want to bring your dog over for a trial fit, we love dogs!
 

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New England Ascent here. Love my Ascent. My one qualm is the gas mileage, 20 on average, but with capability of that car it’s worth it. Lower center of gravity than most SUVs and the comfort is comparable to a luxury car. I can say that because that’s what I had before the Subaru, and in my opinion the fit and finish is the best in class.
 

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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
Another option if you need 7 seats is the Tesla Model Y.
1. MPG - well.... no comparison! Our Telsa Model 3 costs < $10 in electric per month compared to $100+ if I drove my Ascent.
2. Telsa's AWD is also very good.
3. Eggcellent safety package/sensors/etc . Also very very good in crash tests
4. I haven't been in a Y yet, but it should be very similar to our Model 3 which is very comfy.
5. Features - yep, it has a lot of them
6. Warranty - yep!

Also maintenance costs are a lot cheaper. Washer Fluid for the windshield and tires. That's it.

The only other added expense may be getting a charger plug in the garage. When we first got our Model 3 we charged in a normal 110v outlet. Charging is slow (6 miles of range/hour), so if our battery was low, it wouldn't get replenished overnight.

When we bought our new house I went ahead and installed a dedicated wall charger ($500) and got the heavy duty 90amp circuit ran ($1300). That provides 35 miles/hour of charge.

Many people just get a large amp 220V outlet which is cheaper and gives charge rates in the mid 20's.

Anyway, another option to consider!
 
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I’m biased al right, against the Ascent. I have a 2019 Touring that I actually leased in Aug 2018. So I’ve had it 2 years and drove 28k miles. Now i am coming off a BMW X5 which we still have. I mainly got the Ascent for family trips and to keep mileage down on the X5 being that it’s a teen! The Ascent served its purpose when we were able to travel. 4 adults and one child in a car seat was fine. An adult (one being 6’ tall) was always in the back with no complaints. So as far as space it’s fine , we have a luggage carrier also. Gas mileage is terrible. My X5 with a 350 hp V8 gets the same gas mileage. As far as dependability, the first 6 months it was in the shop more than out. They never fixed the crunching brake sound which gets louder and louder. The brakes and the engine are both to small for this vehicle. Recently we tried to trade it in, I put 5k down when we leased it and would still lose 3k to trade it in on another Subaru. When I mentioned the whole Subaru keeps its value nonsense they blamed Covid and said they can’t get rid of used cars. So knowing all of this, I’d try the other vehicle your comparing it too.
 

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I put 5k down when we leased it and would still lose 3k to trade it in on another Subaru.
When you put money down on a lease it doesn't go to equity...you are prepaying part of the calculated lease payment...so that money has zero effect on your trade-in value. That's how leases work. Price of the vehicle you negotiate less the calculated residual value at the end of the less equals the cost that the lease payments are calculated at. A down payment does not change that cost. It only modifies the monthly obligation lower because of the prepayment.
 

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We have a 2019 Ascent and it’s okay. Lots of recalls, terrible gas mileage around NorCal streets with tons of stop and go (like 13-15mpg best). This is me driving with kids to school and stuff. Great on the highway for Tahoe and weekend camping, more like 23mpg, which is better but still pretty bad. Bought this as our Prius was t-boned and written off and I wanted the safest car possible, but now that there is a Hybrid Highlander, I wish so badly that I had that one. Even the Hybrid Sienna would be an upgrade in nearly every category if you’re staying on pavement. All that being said, the Tesla truly is the way to go. It drives like a rocket ship (driven many different Teslas many times), and getting back into my combustion engine vehicle feels like going back in time. It’s not like you can fit that much stuff inside these SUVs anyway, so if you’re a weekend warrior with family/kids/dogs/stuff you‘ll need roof racks and a hitch which you can get for the Tesla as well. Tesla had a mode for your dog as well. And camping mode. So many advantages to batteries. Another option I considered but it was too pricey was the Volvo 3-row plugin. You could also wait for the Rivian truck or SUV. If they had a plugin/hybrid version like the Crosstrek with the much more modern roof rails and styline, the ascent would still be a relevant contender, but in 2020 it’s old tech and an antiquated purchase/service/ownership experience compared to other offerings.
 

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Dear Nicole, I faced this very question. I used to have a Suburu Outback. Which I upgraded to a 2020 Ascent when I wanted a bigger car. Loved them both. Ascent mileage was not as great as my Outback but it handled great, especially in snow. Unfortunately, my Ascent was destroyed by fire, what to do? I bought an Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The mileage is superior. The leather interior of the Highlander is luxurious and beats out my cloth Ascent. I don't care about about third seat so I am happy with cargo space in both. The Highlander comes with navigation if that is important to you. My Ascent did not. The Highlander can connect to your phone to communicate with you. It will send me a message if I park it without locking. I will miss my Ascent's heated steering wheel. The handling and solid feel of the Highlander was very pleasing to me. I haven't driven it in snow yet. I'm not going to worry about replacing an expensive battery in 10 years after the warranty expires; my last car didn't make it to its first service so I just want to make through a safe winter season at this point. The Ascent is a great value car. I had to pay about 5K more to get the Highlander. For safety, hauling, kids, dogs, and driving pleasure, both are really fine cars. Test drive them all. Good luck. Denise
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Thanks everyone! I have decided to purchase an Ascent. I am currently looking at prices for a brown premium 7-seat model. Any advice on negotiating/purchasing/etc.? Things I should look out for? I am also going to be selling my current vehicle, likely to carvana as they are offering 2k more than the dealership.
 

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Thanks everyone! I have decided to purchase an Ascent. I am currently looking at prices for a brown premium 7-seat model. Any advice on negotiating/purchasing/etc.? Things I should look out for? I am also going to be selling my current vehicle, likely to carvana as they are offering 2k more than the dealership.
If you're near Tom Wood Subaru, check them out, and tell them I said hi! Otherwise, use MSRP as your reference and see if you can get them to go down from there. Premium and Base have considerably less margin than Limited and Touring, so, keep that in mind. You can possibly work out a deal on Premium, but, it probably won't be in the same region you could work out for a Limited or Touring.

With that in mind, unless you're choosing the Premium for the cloth seats, I'd suggest comparing your fully configured Premium with the price on a Limited - they sometimes work out to be the same.

If you get a Premium, get keyless start. It enables a bunch of other options, such as Remote App Based Start (with a Starlink Safety and Security Plus or higher subscription).

And don't forget to shop around and get quotes in writing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
If you're near Tom Wood Subaru, check them out, and tell them I said hi! Otherwise, use MSRP as your reference and see if you can get them to go down from there. Premium and Base have considerably less margin than Limited and Touring, so, keep that in mind. You can possibly work out a deal on Premium, but, it probably won't be in the same region you could work out for a Limited or Touring.

With that in mind, unless you're choosing the Premium for the cloth seats, I'd suggest comparing your fully configured Premium with the price on a Limited - they sometimes work out to be the same.

If you get a Premium, get keyless start. It enables a bunch of other options, such as Remote App Based Start (with a Starlink Safety and Security Plus or higher subscription).

And don't forget to shop around and get quotes in writing.
Thank you, that's good advice! I originally wanted a higher trim, but I don't want real leather seats. I know the wheel is leather but that's unavoidable in most vehicles now. I'll look at the price differences more closely though.
 

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Thank you, that's good advice! I originally wanted a higher trim, but I don't want real leather seats. I know the wheel is leather but that's unavoidable in most vehicles now. I'll look at the price differences more closely though.
Only the seating surface is leather. The rest is just really decent faux leather.
 

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An easy way to negotiate, is to simply go on autotrader and look at the best prices you can find for a comparably equipped ascent at dealerships within a 50 mi radius. Then ask your preferred dealership to beat the best price (especially since you'll have proof of the pricing from AutoTrader). That won't necessarily get you the absolute best price you could ever get, but I don't see the point in spending hours and hours of negotiating over 50 or 100 bucks.
Plus, you can do this online from home and via email, and not have to have to actually talk to anyone.
And don't be afraid to ask them to throw in things that are a value to you, but cost the dealership very little, such as a couple of complimentary oil changes, or a complimentary detailing.
 

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I had the 2017 Highlander XLE and traded to the Ascent Limited. On a long trip I find the seats to be more comfortable and less fatiguing than the Highlander. I hear the artificial leather used on some of the Toyotas is a very good quality and may be more durable than leather. I have 25000 miles on my 2019 Subaru and it has been reliable.
 

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I drove 2 different Ascents (Premium and Limited) over two years and have now settled on a 2021 Highlander Hybrid Platinum. I am very happy with my new car. Major differences that I notice with the Ascent vs Highlander are slow speed driving smoothness, suspension and handling. The Highlander wins on all three handily in my opinion. I always felt like the Ascent was lurching slightly at slow speeds, especially when doing the first shift into drive after backing out of driveway and alse whenever I took my foot off accelerator. Not the case with the Highlander. It is smooth as butter! Likewise, the suspension in the Ascent seemed kinda clunky to me. Small bumps would often send a big sound and feel through the cabin. The Highlander is WAY more refined in the suspension and just floats over smaller bumps. The Highlander feels a lot more planted on the road with far less body roll and more predictable manners while cornering. I feel a lot more confident taking a curve at 50 miles per hour with this thing. Overall the Highlander is just a more refined machine. The Ascent needs some tweaking to bring it up to snuff. I should also mention that I think the interior quality is a step above the Ascent. Seats in my Platinum are much more comfortable that Ascents and the leather just has a nicer look. This Platinum has a luxury level interior whereas the Ascent didn't quite get there. The JBL sound system in Highlander is just clearer and sounds more HiFi than the upgraded Harmon Kardon stereo I had in the Ascent Limited.

True, the Highlander doesn't have full-time AWD, but AWD is still very much there for power boosts and when traction is compromised. The second electric motor that powers the rear wheels kicks on immediately when it detects slippage. I don't necessarily want or need all four wheels to be turning (and burning extra fuel) all the time. I drive mainly in an urban/suburban environment in Portland, OR with a lot of hills, and this Highlander really seems like the ideal SUV for this environment. When I go up to the mountain, I know that the AWD will work nicely, and I believe that the Trail mode will provide better traction when you need it. You should note that the Ascent doesn't have any driving modes, while the Highlander has 5 (eco, normal, sport, EV and Trail). This is handy and just makes driving more engaging.

I highly recommend the Highlander Hybrid if you want one of the most refined crossover SUVs with excellent gas mileage and don't necessarily need AWD for off-roading or what not. One area where I think the Ascent has the Highlander beat is it that it is probably slightly more off-road worthy. I will save approximately 200 gallons a year in gas with this new car or approximately 2 TONS of CO2 emissions (I drive about 8k per year). Imagine if all 80,000 Ascents sold last year where instead Highlander Hybrids? That would save about 25,000,000 gallons of gas or 250,000 tons of CO2 emissions. That volume of gasoline is enough to cover three football fields 25 feet deep with gasoline. The larger impact of choosing and efficient vehicle is something to consider. After driving a Prius for 5 years from 2010-2015, I could never really get over the extreme loss in economy with the Subarus.
 

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The Ascent uses no gears for forward and reverse, which makes how it "shifts" directions quite different from almost every other transmission out there. It's always best to wait until you feel the engine force fully engaged before you take your foot off the brake. Because of the mechanism used, it takes the Ascent (and any TR690) a little longer to complete a forward to reverse (or vice versa) direction change, and only slightly less time to shift from disengaged to drive/reverse.
 

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Thanks everyone! I have decided to purchase an Ascent. I am currently looking at prices for a brown premium 7-seat model. Any advice on negotiating/purchasing/etc.? Things I should look out for? I am also going to be selling my current vehicle, likely to carvana as they are offering 2k more than the dealership.
Do not pay MSRP or higher. MSRP is the starting point, but never pay it.

I'm over in Kalamazoo. Pretty much I walked into the Subaru dealer, told them what we wanted to order and they gave us their pricing. We fully expected MSRP, but it was must less than that, no negotiation or anything. And that was for a custom order, not a car on the lot!
 

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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...
I fit perfectly in first and second row of Highlander Hybrid (even third row for drives around town) and I am 6’2”. I have the panoramic roof, so that increases headspace over normal sunroof quite a bit. Head doesn’t touch at all in first two rows, and more legroom in second row than my old Ascent.
 

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We're all going to fit differently in different cars. My family did not fit well in the Highlander and the Ascent works better for us in that regard. You are absolutely right that the Ascent needs more drivetrain refinement -- the programming is pretty poor. You do learn to work with it with practice, but it shouldn't be that way.

I'm glad you like your new Highlander. Toyotas are nice cars (we've owned a few in the past).
 

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The Highlander Hybrid is a fine vehicle and does what it does very well, no question. I thoroughly enjoy my '06 for 7 years, including our family of four coming through a major accident (sandwiched front and rear) with zero injuries early on. It was a great vehicle for us at the time and Toyota's expertise with hybrids is unparalleled, IMHO. (The good news is that expertise is likely going to benefit Subaru given the ownership relationship) Two Prii were also enjoyed by us over the years. (MY02 and MY08)

I didn't consider Highlander when I was buying my Ascent, however. I frankly wanted a Subaru to follow up with 7 great years in a Jeep Grand Cherokee but with more cargo space that the three row brought. Jeeps WL75 (three row) is only now slated for production soon...announcement on the 7th at noon...and I was buying two years ago. Highlander's interior wasn't attractive to me in both appearance and specifications at this time and I wanted an Ascent well before Ascent was even in production.
 
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