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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have one question that I have yet to find a answer to. I currently have a 2014 Toyota Tundra 4x4 with 35s and 3" lift. It is for the most part, unpractical. I don't haul stuff very often, I almost never tow, and it gets 10.8 mpg average with the larger tires and lift. Now I do a lot of outdoor activities such as camping and hunting, which does require a 4x4 at times. To be honest though, even my Tundra completely stock with street tires could have easily got through anywhere I need to go that is "mild off road". So I set out looking at some of the most economical 4x4s. That led me to Subaru. Once I started looking at the ground clearance, gas mileage, and towing capacity of the Ascent, I was in love! It was the best of all worlds! So as I researched more about Subaru's AWD system, I quickly realized one downfall. This is well documented on YouTube but any Subaru vehicle (Outback, Forester, Crosstrek) that people get on a semi steep incline (like 35 degrees or great), the engine or transmission refuses to put full power down to the wheels and the vehcile wont climb up the hill, even if it has traction. For outdoor people or members of the light offroad community, this is the biggest complaint with the newer Subaru's with CVTs. So my point to this long story is, does the Ascent suffer from the same issue? I am hoping that with it having a lot more power, that the transmission is different and will allow enough torque through it to allow the vehicle to climb. It seems like Subaru would have to fix this on the Ascent as it can tow 5,000 lbs, and if someone was to back a 4,500 lb boat down a steep boat ramp, I would imagine they would be pissed later to find out the engine or transmission wont put the torque down to the ground to pull the boat back up and out of the water. If you search "outback gold mine hill" on YouTube, you will see what I am talking about. Subaru would sell a lot more Foresters, Outbacks, and Crosstrek's if they would fix this. Until I can either test this myself in a rental, or test drive, or see a video of some other Ascent owner doing it, I will not purchase a Ascent. I also hope Robert Mauro sees this and chimes in as well as I would love to hear his opinion as well.
 

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Ascent is great, but ascending hills would not be it's strong suit:) It was primarily built for the street and moms with family's. Marketing as an go-anywhere type vehicle helps set it apart and is only partially true from what i can tell. With a regular trans i'd have not problem beating the heck out of it off roading....but stressing that CVT is always going to be a little cringey. Now if you can always keep a little momentum then it may work just fine over the long haul.

Mine pulls a 4,800lbs boat out of the water on steep inclines no problem and it's seems better than my Yukon or Enclave did, but If you're planning on stressing the trans alot i might look elsewhere. I have a Legacy with a CVT and it seems it's starting to slip in colder weather now with 60k on the odometer. I think these CVTs needs alot more time to be sorted out. I do like what Toyota is starting to do and using actual gears for the initial throttle input and then it switches over...this tells me that there might be a weak point that are starting to address.
 

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This has been discussed before. There's another video that shows it's the car being smart knowing it doesn't have the power to climb that angle from a dead stop anyways. The person in the other video turned off all the VDC/TC etc and it sat and spun the tires at the same spot it shut down previously.
IMHO it's a 4cyl power issue not a transmission issue.
 

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The Ascent is an utter beast...

TOWING:
I had no problems with acceleration on the hills in Commack while towing a LOT of weight.

NON-TOWING:
I have made many trips into the Adirondack High Peaks regions, including just this past weekend for the Subaru Enthusiast charity drive I was doing, where I had to keep up with my STI owning friends. In all such cases, the Ascent accelerates amazingly well up the mountains. I posted some videos on my Subaru Ambassador page where you can see me giving them space and then catching up, testing out how well the Ascent does.

OFF ROAD:
Other than some dirt trails, and a dirt snow covered road through the mountains, everything else off-road that I've done with the Ascent so far has been beach driving on the fine soft sands of Long Island's south shore (North shore is rocky moraine, south shore is soft fine sand). The Ascent was an utter beast, and it felt like I was driving on a bumpy road. If it weren't for all the sand on and in the car, you'd never have known I drove miles on the beach. There's vids of that too.
 

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This has been discussed before. There's another video that shows it's the car being smart knowing it doesn't have the power to climb that angle from a dead stop anyways. The person in the other video turned off all the VDC/TC etc and it sat and spun the tires at the same spot it shut down previously.
IMHO it's a 4cyl power issue not a transmission issue.
If it does let you spin the crap of the tires than that's great as i've been stuck a few times off road and thinking it's never going to make it and after letting the tires spin it somehow found grip and made it out or up. I don't want the car reading all aspects of the terrain and deciding if i can make it if i'm out in the middle of nowhere:) The Ascent seems to have a better torque curve than most V6s and would like to see what it can really do offroad say compared to Honda or Hyundai with a standard gearbox.

In any case currently a CVT is probably not the best trans to be stressing out a lot. They probably also overheat quickly i would think.
 
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In any case currently a CVT is probably not the best trans to be stressing out a lot. They probably also overheat quickly i would think.
Everything but the base trim has a transmission cooler. :tango_face_wink:
 

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about 1:20 is the slower speed where it gets stuck. 2:20 is the vdc etc off
 

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I've seen the gold hill videos and have the same question. I dont think they were completely neutral with those videos, but they made me wonder.

I took our ascent up a good slope covered in snow and dirt, in a national forest. The slope was as extreme as I would want to go up when traveling on logging roads/blm land, so for my needs it was a pretty good test. All I can say is the ascent exceeding my expectations. I did not get close to giving it full power. I had to press down harder to get over a bump, but it got over no problem. the snow/dirt did make the wheels spin a bit but when it found traction my only concern was to not launch up too fast.

But this was just a one time test (well, i tried three times with same results), and only went up about the same length as the gold hill videos (but also not as extreme a slope as their test). I have no idea how the cvt would do if i tried this for any extended length of time.


The only thing i have seen or read that gives a clue to how the ascent's cvt handles being taxed over an extended time is this video:


the testers say the ascent never was overheated, or needed a break, where at least one other car showed warnings to rest a bit.


I still have not tested it other than this very limited experience, but i am now way less concerned that i will not be able to go up the hills i imagine encountering.
 

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Wow! Did nicely in that test. I've seen other videos by this channel using the same hills and the Ascent held it's own in snowy conditions.
 

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IMHO a lot of these situations are very tire dependent. There's a reason Jeep guys use off road tires with the giant lugs with lots of space between each lug, so debris clears from the tire easily. Snow tires help as much if not more than awd in some situations.
 

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IMHO a lot of these situations are very tire dependent. There's a reason Jeep guys use off road tires with the giant lugs with lots of space between each lug, so debris clears from the tire easily. Snow tires help as much if not more than awd in some situations.
I could do without AWD/4wd unless i was off-roading all the time or lived in very hilly and icy place.
RWD Dodge Magnum with All-Weather tires is a much more capable in snow/ice than AWD Legacy with All-Seasons from what i've found. Magnum with stock tires couldn't even get out of it's own way in the winter it was a joke.
 
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I still have not tested it other than this very limited experience, but i am now way less concerned that i will not be able to go up the hills i imagine encountering.
I just did snow covered switchbacks in the Adirondacks (in last weekend's blizzard), and the Ascent didn't care. I did mountain dirt trails in the Adirondack High Peaks with no issue as well, to get as far up Mount Marcy as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

about 1:20 is the slower speed where it gets stuck. 2:20 is the vdc etc off
I understand what he is saying here, and to be honest, the setup would be great to protect the transmission if it squeezed every last ounce of traction out of the system. I have watched many videos of Subarus on ramps with rollers at 3 tires. Every other type of AWD system they tested could not do what Subaru could, so I know the AWD system is capable of more than any other AWD system, that has been well documented. So that being the case, it should translate into real world scenarios but that is not what I am seeing. For example, the Jeep Renegade and the Jeep Compass both use front wheel drive, but have an AWD system, just like Subaru. But when you watch videos of them drive the Subaru's on a very specific trail, at a fairly steep angle, the traction control system (regardless if you turn it off or not) will cut power to the wheels and not allow it to climb, regardless if the traction is there or not. I say this because they then take a Jeep Compass and Renegade and put them on the exact same spot, and it climbs with a little effort. They record specifically the wheels, and you can tell it is almost losing traction, but the power stays in it and it climbs. Well back to what I said earlier, we know from controlled environment tests that Subaru has a superior AWD system, so if the Jeep Compass and Renegade can climb this obstacle, and the traction is there for them, we know the traction is there for the Subaru's superior AWD system. Its just the parameters of the engine/transmission/traction control system are set slightly to conservative and is reducing power a little to early before traction is actually lost. Its frustrating because the AWD system on the Subaru is superior but its programming is handicapping it causing it to literally underperform compared to inferior AWD systems by other manufacturers. Now I have no intention of taking out my Subaru and go hardcore off roading all the time, or even half the time, but one the one occasion every now and then where I need it to perform, I want to know that it will perform to its true potential and not hold back.
 

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I understand what he is saying here, and to be honest, the setup would be great to protect the transmission if it squeezed every last ounce of traction out of the system. I have watched many videos of Subarus on ramps with rollers at 3 tires. Every other type of AWD system they tested could not do what Subaru could, so I know the AWD system is capable of more than any other AWD system, that has been well documented. So that being the case, it should translate into real world scenarios but that is not what I am seeing. For example, the Jeep Renegade and the Jeep Compass both use front wheel drive, but have an AWD system, just like Subaru. But when you watch videos of them drive the Subaru's on a very specific trail, at a fairly steep angle, the traction control system (regardless if you turn it off or not) will cut power to the wheels and not allow it to climb, regardless if the traction is there or not. I say this because they then take a Jeep Compass and Renegade and put them on the exact same spot, and it climbs with a little effort. They record specifically the wheels, and you can tell it is almost losing traction, but the power stays in it and it climbs. Well back to what I said earlier, we know from controlled environment tests that Subaru has a superior AWD system, so if the Jeep Compass and Renegade can climb this obstacle, and the traction is there for them, we know the traction is there for the Subaru's superior AWD system. Its just the parameters of the engine/transmission/traction control system are set slightly to conservative and is reducing power a little to early before traction is actually lost. Its frustrating because the AWD system on the Subaru is superior but its programming is handicapping it causing it to literally underperform compared to inferior AWD systems by other manufacturers. Now I have no intention of taking out my Subaru and go hardcore off roading all the time, or even half the time, but one the one occasion every now and then where I need it to perform, I want to know that it will perform to its true potential and not hold back.
Keep in mind that an Outback 2.5i has a lot less power, especially than the Ascent. Also keep in mind that the Outback does not have a CVT cooler, nor is it a high torque CVT.

The Ascent has the beefiest high torque CVT built to date by Subaru, and all trim levels except the "base" trim have a transmission cooler.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Keep in mind that an Outback 2.5i has a lot less power, especially than the Ascent. Also keep in mind that the Outback does not have a CVT cooler, nor is it a high torque CVT.

The Ascent has the beefiest high torque CVT built to date by Subaru, and all trim levels except the "base" trim have a transmission cooler.
This is exactly what I was speculating might make a good difference in performance off road, specifically in a hill climb position with somewhat loose traction, but not to the extent of ice or snow. I suspect or at least hope, the Ascent will outperform the Outback and Forester in this situation. Now if I could only get a dealership to let me take a Ascent out for a test drive alone for a hour so I could find a 40 degree dirt hill (I know where one is) that I could record the test of the Ascent and upload it to YouTube to show people that the Ascent is in fact the king of AWD systems. It would also put me one step closer to buying a Ascent.
 

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This is exactly what I was speculating might make a good difference in performance off road, specifically in a hill climb position with somewhat loose traction, but not to the extent of ice or snow. I suspect or at least hope, the Ascent will outperform the Outback and Forester in this situation. Now if I could only get a dealership to let me take a Ascent out for a test drive alone for a hour so I could find a 40 degree dirt hill (I know where one is) that I could record the test of the Ascent and upload it to YouTube to show people that the Ascent is in fact the king of AWD systems. It would also put me one step closer to buying a Ascent.

If I can find such a place on Long Island (really tough) or coordinate with Bruceyyyyy to hit the place he goes, I will record the event.
 

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If I can find such a place on Long Island (really tough) or coordinate with Bruceyyyyy to hit the place he goes, I will record the event.
I've been trying to get some time with a buddy of mine who took his Forester all over the place. He left the Subaru family to get a 4-runner for even more off-road capability. If I ever catch up with him and get out and off-roading I'll video it and see how extreme we can get.

I did take mine up a short single-track that was heavily rutted from rain runoff. The Ascent went up it in Xmode without any problems and I was very pleased. It was fairly steep too.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/5xWBCH3ahuyV7XP19

That got me up here:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/T6qZ5Hw9SFrZaKue6

I too think the CVT issues are overblown and even had a guy on another forum turn down an Ascent for just that reason, thinking the off-roading isn't capable enough for him. I don't think he's ready to buy yet, but I haven't been able to "prove him otherwise" yet either. Too busy going camping with the 3,500lb trailer and towing my race car to the track (4,700lbs). I'm so happy with mine that I tell everyone about it, whether they care or not! I'm sure I drive people nuts!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
This is exactly what I was speculating might make a good difference in performance off road, specifically in a hill climb position with somewhat loose traction, but not to the extent of ice or snow. I suspect or at least hope, the Ascent will outperform the Outback and Forester in this situation. Now if I could only get a dealership to let me take a Ascent out for a test drive alone for a hour so I could find a 40 degree dirt hill (I know where one is) that I could record the test of the Ascent and upload it to YouTube to show people that the Ascent is in fact the king of AWD systems. It would also put me one step closer to buying a Ascent.

If I can find such a place on Long Island (really tough) or coordinate with Bruceyyyyy to hit the place he goes, I will record the event.
That would be awesome. It doesn't have to be mud, snow or ice. Just some grass, dirt or mild low traction. Most vehicles wont climb ice or hard packed snow on a 40 degree incline. I am curious about a 40 degree or steeper incline with semi hard pack where you have minimal slippage but will tax the CVT and traction system a little. As long as you put the right key words and hashtags on that video on YouTube, ill bet you get HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of views.
If I can find such a place on Long Island (really tough) or coordinate with Bruceyyyyy to hit the place he goes, I will record the event.
I've been trying to get some time with a buddy of mine who took his Forester all over the place. He left the Subaru family to get a 4-runner for even more off-road capability. If I ever catch up with him and get out and off-roading I'll video it and see how extreme we can get.

I did take mine up a short single-track that was heavily rutted from rain runoff. The Ascent went up it in Xmode without any problems and I was very pleased. It was fairly steep too.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/5xWBCH3ahuyV7XP19

That got me up here:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/T6qZ5Hw9SFrZaKue6

I too think the CVT issues are overblown and even had a guy on another forum turn down an Ascent for just that reason, thinking the off-roading isn't capable enough for him. I don't think he's ready to buy yet, but I haven't been able to "prove him otherwise" yet either. Too busy going camping with the 3,500lb trailer and towing my race car to the track (4,700lbs). I'm so happy with mine that I tell everyone about it, whether they care or not! I'm sure I drive people nuts!
No other SUV has everything the Ascent has (5k tow, plenty of HP, good gas mileage, lots of interior space, top safety ratings, and the best AWD system that rivals many open diff true 4x4s). The Ascent has the potential to be a game changer if it proves to be rock solid reliable over the next 10 years. It will literally set the bar to which all other SUV's must try to reach.

I have been in the offroad scene for over 20 years. When I say offroad, I mean vehciles with lockers front and rear, bead locks, winches, sliders, skid plates, etc. I remember many years ago, when Toyota showed up with IFS and everyone looked at it and said, "no way that will not break. Its too weak for any real offroading". Now us offroad guys know you can easily run a set of 35x12.50 mud tires with lockers on those CV shafts with a little common sense. Ive seen some guys run 37x12.50 mud tires on IFS with smart throttle use and be just fine.

The point it, there were tons of assumptions made about this new technology. It took probably 10 years for people to finally admit we were wrong. In fact it was embarrassing having a Toyota Tacome with 33" tires and IFS outwheel your Jeep wrangler with 37s because the front ground clearance is more on a IFS setup due to not having a solid front axle pumpking hanging down. I have seen many a jeep guys get pissed being schooled by a almost stock 4x4 with IFS.

Hopefully, years from now, people will look back and say, "i remember when everyone said CVT's cant tow, or handle AWD, or a turbo engine, but Subaru made it happen. They showed everyone that these transmissions can be built to do this kind of stuff". I just think it a natural instinct in most people to be cautious and doubt, especially when potentially investing $40,000 in a unproven SUV. I commend Subaru for being a pioneer and pushing to pave the way for new technology. That is what drew me to the company. Without companies like this, we would all still be driving carbureted vehicles, with no airbags and manual transmissions. Somebody has to push through the growing pains and iron out the technology.
 
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