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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A year ago I started seriously considering the Toyota Highlander LE+, Honda Pilot EX and Subaru Ascent Premium...and likely posted a thread on this forum. Our need is for an AWD vehicle to replace our 2000 Honda Odyssey when it dies. We love the storage room, seating capacity and towing capability...but want AWD for winter use. It's been an amazing vehicle but now has 223K and is 19 years old. Though not in immediate need, we are doing our homework so we are ready to move ahead quickly when that day arrives (we also have a 2008 Honda CRV AWD). Here's my dilemma: I'm still somewhat partial to Honda but am concerned about the reliability plus VCM concerns, timing belt replacement, and apparent decline in quality. With Toyota, the 3rd seat is small, the 8 speed transmission is not loved, and the design is older... but the overall reliability appears to be intact. Just the other day I test drove a Subaru Ascent and was impressed (features, handling, safety). My concerns with Subaru include the long-term reliability of the new turbo and the CVT plus the fact that it is a first-year design...despite the #1 ranking by Consumer Reports. I read forums on all three vehicles so I realize no vehicle is perfect but want to spend our money wisely since this is a big purchase decision for us. I would appreciate any thoughts on the three vehicles. Thanks for your help.
 

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consider this video in regard to driving AWD or even 4WD[FONT=&quot]
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I was surprised. We have never owned a Subaru.

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I just test drove a Pathfinder, Traverse, CX-9, Highlander and the Ascent. We have decided on the Ascent for reliability, Subaru's commitment to the Ascent, value retention, safety features, cargo area, ground clearance and overall dollar value given the feature package arrangements. We have chosen the Limited and this week will be negotiating the deal.

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I own a 2017 Honda Pilot in Touring trim and a 2019 Subaru Ascent Limited.

I didn't care for the Highlander but many people do. There was very little space in the back behind the third row. It is a solid vehicle but just doesn't tick any boxes for me.

The Pilot is a very good vehicle. It looks good and drives good. I have no concerns about reliability and expect it to last a very long time. I really like the V6 and it gets very good mileage. It also tows our 3,000 pound boat very well. My wife likes it so for now we are keeping it.

I like the Ascent the best and it was cheaper than the Pilot. It has a lot more room for the driver, plenty of power, handles better and I just really like the overall feel of the vehicle. If it was available when I bought the Pilot I would have bought the Ascent instead. I am not overly concerned about the engine or transmission, but only time will tell. Smaller turbo engines with CVT's are the way the industry is headed. The latest crop of both are very good and continue to be improved each year.

Subaru did a fantastic job with the Ascent. For a completely new vehicle I expected more first year problems than there are. I have no problem recommending it.

It really comes down to which vehicle you like best as they are all good. Take them for a drive and see what you think. Only so much can be done behind a keyboard and a test drive is worth more than all the research.
 

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Ascent sales go to show what most people think. Thankfully the stigma of German vehicles isn't a barrier especially after Toyota made headlines for its own fair share of issues.
 

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I have had two Subarus since 2001 100% of the time as primary family hauler. I have had two Toyota older trucks at the same time to do the stuff the Subarus don’t do. Ie hauling 5+ people and or hot, heavy camping trips into the Sierras.

I have too many vehicles!! I want one that does what two currently do. Good mileage, good road trip rig, easy parking in our tight parking crowded Bay Area etc. Yet able to haul us over the Sierras in 100 degree heat with our trailer etc.

My 2010 2.5 Limited Outback does pretty well on our 2/kids 2 adults light trips but I really watch our packed weight. Our longer trips ie more gear, water being hauled, I use our Sequoia.

I have watched the Ascent closely, driven them, eyeballed their layout and space etc.

I have looked at the Pilot its in every other driveway around here. The Highlander is in the other driveways. Both are good vehicles with pluses and minuses. I find both to be uninspiring and very lacking in current tech. The AWD in both is not great I’d say its AWD to pass the “yup” they can turn 4 wheels and thats about it. I also will never own a Honda auto, they never lead in safety tech, they follow, their engineering always has really odd glaring issues that they never correct and its pushed off on the warranty and secondary buyers to cover.

The Ascent awd will be way way better in every day situations regarding handling and traction capability. But the CVT has negatives that are also in my Outback, but it weighs less than the Ascent. Those same negatives are there in the heavier Ascent so I’m not super thrilled per say about that. Add the new 2.4L turbo another thing Subaru is spotty around turbo engine history vs reliability etc.

These factors have me waiting to see a few of the newest ground up rigs being released this spring / Summer.

GM and Ford have essentially declared WAR on Subarus little nich with plans to carpet bomb the AWD wagon market with every size, trim and combo imaged in the next 2-3 yrs.

The first beach storming raid on Subarus AWD market will be the new Ford Explorer a tall AWD sport wagon basically. Then a 4x4 trail wagon the Bronco next.

They have a smaller AWD wagon thing that will be in the Outback/ Forester zone too.

I’m not a big fan of Ford but I do like their engines and transmissions. Package it right and they might have something I like better than the Ascent which in current seating vs tech combo is packaged all wrong for my interests.

The Ascent floor height is really high to accommodate the flip down 3rd row under the load floor, the roof line height sets the floor to roof height nearly the same as my Outback. I have mixed feelings about this. I feel like having a bit more height floor to roof line in the larger car is something I would want and also miss regarding gear hauling ability.
 

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Pilot Paint

While you're eyeballing the Pilot, check out the paint quality. "Orange Peel" doesn't even begin to describe the Pilots I've seen. More like "Moon Scape".
We were in a Honda showroom to re-lease a new Accord for my wife. (didn't happen). Next to us was a blue Pilot. I happened to glance over at it, and was so startled by the paint quality that I exclaimed. The salesman, and his compatriots, came over to see the commotion. They started taking pictures of the 'paint divots'. We looked at several others in the lot and confirmed that the paint was applied with garden hose.
 

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I came from RWD (longitudinal engine/tranny setup) SUV and the Pilot or Highlander were not my option because they're FWD vehicles, simpler (cheaper or less effort) to build.

I just put on about 200mi on the Ascent Limited and so far, the two features that I really like are:

1) the extendable thigh support; and
2) power actuated fuel cap door.

The two features, not often mentioned, are found only in the luxury car line, particularly BMW. This is our third Subaru.
 

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I didn't think the Palisade was going to be released in the USA until summer 2019?

I would certainly look into the Hyundai Palisade with a 10 yr/100,000 mile warranty. Larger than the Ascent. The Ascent may be the vehicle for you, but look at all the different options.
 

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This may seem like a minor issue but while I liked the Pilot overall, I did not find that the driver had enough legroom in that vehicle. I have 2 knee replacements and find it hard to drive for long periods with my legs bent. The Ascent had so much legroom that with the seat all the way back, my legs are stretched out almost fully. I am 6’ tall. Minivans present similar issues. Again not important to everyone but I was very impressed with the amount of room considering how many long 15+ hour trips.
 

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I feel that Subaru is cheating its Ascent Premium trim level customers who are moving up from the Forester or Outback. My dealership General Manager was astounded, like me, that the Ascent Premium driver’s seat has no adjustable lumbar support of any kind, and the seat bottom cushion is short on thigh support as well. The Ascent Premium does not come with standard fog lights as do the Forester and Outback Premiums, either.

The Highlander LE Plus and Pilot EX have driver seat adjustable lumbar support, standard fog lamps, and flashing turn signal indicators on the side mirrors - a safety feature missing on the Ascent Premium in our opinion.

Toyota Highlander has the best reliability, but the third row seat is not competitive. The Pilot EX has an old and inefficient 6-speed automatic transmission, but the interior package space is well-configured and spacious. The Ascent Premium interior package space is the best, but Subaru is a small manufacturer with no quality/durability track record mass producing a heavy (all-new) 6,000 pound GVW car.

I like the design intent of the new Ascent powertrain, but as much as I like the car, I just can’t trust the new engine and CVT. Subaru is behind the other car manufacturers, by several years, in deploying non-turbo gas direct injection (GDI) engines - the 2019 Forester 2.4L just received it. Add a new turbo to a new 2.4L GDI engine and put it in a new 4,500 pound car for the first time? With a new CVT trying to handle the turbo engine torque moving a 4,500 pound car?

There is no shortcut for customer-miles-driven, as in millions of customer miles during all weather seasons, over a period of time. Of your three candidates, the safest purchase today that delivers minivan-like space might be the Pilot EX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all the thoughtful replies and insightful comments...most appreciated. I put a similar request on both the Toyota and Honda forums and the results are, well, interesting. See for yourself.

https://www.piloteers.org/forums/4-comparisons/144817-honda-pilot-vs-subaru-ascent-6.html

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/...ghlander-vs-pilot-vs-new-subaru-ascent-2.html

On these forums, I had previously posted an original request for information approximately one year ago.

Thanks again for your help.
 

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I drove the 2018 Pilot the day I bought my Ascent. Overall I really liked the Piot as a whole and the price with discounts was much lower. My biggest issue is that the V6 didn't feel as peppy and the whole car felt much more like a mini-van. It felt a bit cheaper than the Ascent. I have long arms and didn't find the right individual armrests comfortable. I much more prefer the center console. The two biggest features I was looking for were collision avoidance and AWD. The eyesight system felt more refined based on the research I did and Subaru has been in the AWD business for a long time. Even though this is my daily driver, my wife seconded my decision because she liked the styling and drive much more. It has gotten to the point where she tries to con me into driving her car on the weekends.

We are even contemplating getting a second Ascent when it is time to replace her car.
 

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I’m waiting for this. Should show up some time this summer. It will get the US Ranger reworking and be called the Bronco.




More less proven 2.3l Eco boost possibly the good 2.7 V6. With the 10spd Auto.

Course rumors fly about 7spd Manuals and retro boxy Bronco looks. But the bean counter prediction in me says Ford will simply bring a better version of their GX 460 / Prado slayer to the US market and call it good.

The Ford Explorer will be in the Ascent zone except crush it with far superior engine and plugin hybrid options.

As much as I really like Subaru I think they are about to get slaughtered by the big Auto Makers.
 

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I would never buy a Ford, Subaru's engineering is much better and I doubt the next Exploder will crush the Ascent. Look for some kind of Hybrid setup within the next 2 years for the Ascent. Remember Subaru is still and always be a small car company and will not compete with the top makes. They have IMO the best bang for the buck
 

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Replaced '03 Pilot with Subaru Ascent Limited

Just as a note, I just replaced our 2003 Honda Pilot (248K miles) with a Subaru Ascent. I loved the Honda Pilot and it ran like a dream (engine still runs fantastic).

I had considered the Pilot and the highlander, but every time both the price and Subaru's Eyesight safety features brought me back. Eyesight is rated better than almost any other system out there - even premium brands. My 2 cents.
 

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My wife and I just took delivery of our Touring level Ascent yesterday (Crystal White Pearl if interested!). However, we spent a considerable amount of time (months) going back and forth between the Ascent and the Pilot. To me it is pretty close to being a draw (I would have driven either, really) so it came down to a few details (or maybe more than a few) that attracted us to the Ascent over the Pilot:

1) We've already owned two Outbacks (and five Hondas) so we are familiar with the Subaru AWD system and quality;
2) We looked at the Pilot Elite trim. I found the Ascent touring trim much nicer than the Pilot Elite, and I was even more impressed after owning it! The dash area, cupholders, accent lighting (the Elite trim may have this - we didn't test drive at night), 2.1 amp USB ports in each row.
3) Between phones and such we have no need for an additional rear entertainment system. Subsequently, we now have one solid piece of glass in the roof;
4) Honda put a cup holder console right smack in between the second row captain's chairs. This was bound to become a traffic issue with three kids;
5) Coming from an Odyssey, the Ascent is so much crisper to drive. It doesn't have the sway that the Pilot has with a slightly higher center of gravity. The Pilot is wider than our '09 Odyssey, and we both felt as though we were just driving another version of the mini-van, albeit shorter. Wasn't bad, just wasn't really different;
6) No engine idle stop/start (even though Honda provides a quick way to turn it off)
7) I have a perception of higher safety in the Subaru - I don't have quantitative analysis to support;
8) Front camera in Touring model (nothing in the Pilot);
9) Visibility out windshield over hood felt better to my wife. She's the one who will drive it the most;
10) Roof rack flexibility - I'm just kind of used to putting the crossbars where I want them to be rather than this being dictated by the manufacturer;
11) Passenger seat comfort;
12) Extendable driver's side thigh support

I would say that I did like the additional headroom in the Pilot third row, and I thought the push-button transmission was cool, and the garage door-style front center console was nice. Armrests - I kind of got used to those in our Odyssey.

I would say that the Pilot feels like there is more space, but I think that's mostly because of the little extra width and the third row headroom. Ultimately, it's not as though the cargo space between the two is so different. We practically had a box truck of cargo space with the van, most of it generally unnecessary.

There's been a LOT of talk of the CVT in the Ascent. I've only driven it for a day but I like it. It's my first, coming from a long line of v-6 standard transmissions - including my past and current Outback. Interestingly, the engine didn't even get a second thought from us. I didn't necessarily find the Pilot's transmission and engine so much more superior. I think we'll find more and more CVTs in cars unless there is some sort of consumer revolt (like Honda removing/returning the knob back on the infotainment system).
 

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I drove the 2018 Pilot the day I bought my Ascent. Overall I really liked the Piot as a whole and the price with discounts was much lower. My biggest issue is that the V6 didn't feel as peppy and the whole car felt much more like a mini-van. It felt a bit cheaper than the Ascent. I have long arms and didn't find the right individual armrests comfortable. I much more prefer the center console. The two biggest features I was looking for were collision avoidance and AWD. The eyesight system felt more refined based on the research I did and Subaru has been in the AWD business for a long time. Even though this is my daily driver, my wife seconded my decision because she liked the styling and drive much more. It has gotten to the point where she tries to con me into driving her car on the weekends.

We are even contemplating getting a second Ascent when it is time to replace her car.
Regarding the difference between the AWD system on the Ascent and the Pilot. Both are exceptional, but the Subaru uses braking from side to side, whereas the Pilot does not.

"(i)VTM-4 (on the Pilot) is again "better" than three of Subaru's AWD systems...except for one...

Three of Subaru's AWD systems use open front and rear differentials and must use the brakes to transfer torque from side to side. The exception is the WRX STI which uses a helical limited-slip front differential and a Torsen limited-slip rear differential for the closest you can get to true AWD."
 

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I caught the Alex on Autos live Friday video today. As you know, Alex has been pretty high on the Ascent in his reviews. Today, he was asked about Subaru reliability during his video. I was pretty surprised to hear him say that they really don't compare to Honda and Toyota, based on metrics. He did go on to talk about the complexity of the AWD system of the Subaru and more to go wrong, etc. While he didn't reference Ascent, he did seem to speak about the brand, overall.

I'm not trying to get flamed here, but based on a lot of the issues I'm seeing with the electronics glitches and some of the transmission and other issues (yes, they are relatively limited), it is got me really questioning whether to pull the trigger on a new Ascent.

Every Honda and Acura I have had have been solid. Never once been towed in. Toyota is pretty much bulletproof...boring, but mostly bulletproof. I view the Ascent as a bit of a risk, but a great one to take. I was really impressed with it when I drove. Safety features are top-notch and great technology. It's a tough decision and am sure many looking between these 3 wrestle with the same things.
 
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