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I just test drove an Ascent and a CX-9 today. I will stick to the Ascent for this post, but I will mention that I think anyone considering an Ascent should take a test drive in the CX-9.

We are looking for a safe 3 row SUV. I appreciate quality, but I'm big on value, too. I generally don't care much for extra features (well, not enough to pay for them) other than safety related features. So, Ascent Premium is what I'm looking at.

Body: As others have said, it looks like a blown up Outback. That's fine by me, although I don't like the high, flat hood. It messes with front visibility (or at least the perception of low visibility) too much.

Wheels: Atrocious. I'm not sure I could live with them. Maybe I'd get used to them, but I really didn't like them. (I generally have opinions on wheels, but rarely do I dislike a factory wheel enough to affect a purchase decision)

Interior:

The seats seemed fine, but they didn't feel as good as they looked. I also was disappointed to learn that the extendable thigh support doesn't come on the premium trim. This is mostly an expectation issue - I had seen the thigh support highlighted on review videos, but didn't realize it only came on the limited and higher. I get it, but I was disappointed.

I appreciated the flat floor in the second row. I liked how the captains chairs provided for an aisle to get to the back row without having to fiddle with the seats. Back row seemed fine - I didn't sit there and I don't remember if the floor was flat or if the second row tracks protruded from the floor (as in the CX9, which was a pity)

The trim pieces that wrap from the doors and across the dash (under the glovebox) are probably one of those "love it or hate it" things. I'm a hater in this case. My reaction was seriously: "I guess they haven't fully prepped this vehicle yet" (as in, that must be protective tape) and then it shifted to "That seriously looks like something that came out of a 3D printer" I truly can't fathom what the designers were thinking with this choice. It looks stupid today, and it's going to look even worse in 3 years. Holy ****.

Steering wheel: Not as nice as the premium Outback (2016)

Ride: It drive more or less like a more powerful outback. It was certainly larger, but not unwieldy at all. The over-the-hood visibility is the big letdown. Otherwise it was fine. Nothing stood out (other than the power) in particular. I suspect it was somewhat quieter, but otherwise it was a pretty familiar coming from an Outback. I'm fine with it.

I left the test drive thinking "I could own one of these, but it would probably have to be a limited" (to get somewhat better looking wheels and to cover the ugly trim pieces with leather)...but the additional cost definitely puts the Ascent at a disadvantage. I did not walk away in love and ready to buy, which is what I had expected. I still may buy one, though.

-Steve
 

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I just test drove an Ascent and a CX-9 today. I will stick to the Ascent for this post, but I will mention that I think anyone considering an Ascent should take a test drive in the CX-9.

We are looking for a safe 3 row SUV. I appreciate quality, but I'm big on value, too. I generally don't care much for extra features (well, not enough to pay for them) other than safety related features. So, Ascent Premium is what I'm looking at.

Body: As others have said, it looks like a blown up Outback. That's fine by me, although I don't like the high, flat hood. It messes with front visibility (or at least the perception of low visibility) too much.

Wheels: Atrocious. I'm not sure I could live with them. Maybe I'd get used to them, but I really didn't like them. (I generally have opinions on wheels, but rarely do I dislike a factory wheel enough to affect a purchase decision)

Interior:

The seats seemed fine, but they didn't feel as good as they looked. I also was disappointed to learn that the extendable thigh support doesn't come on the premium trim. This is mostly an expectation issue - I had seen the thigh support highlighted on review videos, but didn't realize it only came on the limited and higher. I get it, but I was disappointed.

I appreciated the flat floor in the second row. I liked how the captains chairs provided for an aisle to get to the back row without having to fiddle with the seats. Back row seemed fine - I didn't sit there and I don't remember if the floor was flat or if the second row tracks protruded from the floor (as in the CX9, which was a pity)

The trim pieces that wrap from the doors and across the dash (under the glovebox) are probably one of those "love it or hate it" things. I'm a hater in this case. My reaction was seriously: "I guess they haven't fully prepped this vehicle yet" (as in, that must be protective tape) and then it shifted to "That seriously looks like something that came out of a 3D printer" I truly can't fathom what the designers were thinking with this choice. It looks stupid today, and it's going to look even worse in 3 years. Holy ****.

Steering wheel: Not as nice as the premium Outback (2016)

Ride: It drive more or less like a more powerful outback. It was certainly larger, but not unwieldy at all. The over-the-hood visibility is the big letdown. Otherwise it was fine. Nothing stood out (other than the power) in particular. I suspect it was somewhat quieter, but otherwise it was a pretty familiar coming from an Outback. I'm fine with it.

I left the test drive thinking "I could own one of these, but it would probably have to be a limited" (to get somewhat better looking wheels and to cover the ugly trim pieces with leather)...but the additional cost definitely puts the Ascent at a disadvantage. I did not walk away in love and ready to buy, which is what I had expected. I still may buy one, though.

-Steve
What exactly is "atrocious" about the wheels? Please explain. I'm not seeing it.
 

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I kinda get it...The premium rims look kinda like weird pizza platters crossed with an electric shaver head but not quite in a good way (was partly one of the reasons I went with a higher level trim too). They’re not horrible but they’re also not as attractive as the limited / touring rims.... but then again, if they bother you that much you could always ask around to see if there’s a limited / touring owner who wants to do a swap... or just go and get a set of rims you like (which would add some cost but probably not quite as much as going up a trim level?)
 

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I kinda get it...The premium rims look kinda like weird pizza platters crossed with an electric shaver head but not quite in a good way (was partly one of the reasons I went with a higher level trim too). They’re not horrible but they’re also not as attractive as the limited / touring rims.... but then again, if they bother you that much you could always ask around to see if there’s a limited / touring owner who wants to do a swap... or just go and get a set of rims you like (which would add some cost but probably not quite as much as going up a trim level?)
So we are talking about rims? I guess I'm old. I just don't really care all that much. I'd rather spend money elsewhere. I'm coming from a Jetta whose rim got lost after I drove over a pothole. I bought a replacement rim and lost it again with another pothole. The I said screw it and drove around without a rim on my wheel. So now that I have a new car with shiny rims, I'm happy lol.

I also like the extra gas mileage of the premium wheels over the bigger limited wheels.
 

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I kinda get it...The premium rims look kinda like weird pizza platters crossed with an electric shaver head but not quite in a good way (was partly one of the reasons I went with a higher level trim too). They’re not horrible but they’re also not as attractive as the limited / touring rims.... but then again, if they bother you that much you could always ask around to see if there’s a limited / touring owner who wants to do a swap... or just go and get a set of rims you like (which would add some cost but probably not quite as much as going up a trim level?)
You don't actually need to get the limited / touring models just to get those rims. I have a Premium with Option 14 and have the same 20" wheels and rim.
 

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I traded a 16 Outback limited and the Ascent does not drive like my Outback. For one the steering is lighter in the Ascent. The structure feels much stiffer stronger. Bumps and potholes made are not noticeable in the Ascent where as my outback would have a issues. If anything, the Ascent feels more new Impreza,crosstrk than Outback. I came from the 2.5 and the Ascent's engine and cvt are much nicer
 

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I'll be selling my barely used 20" rims, tires and TPMS soon. The rims have even been Ceramic Pro coated. My All Terrains get installed tomorrow.
 

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I agree with OP at the big let down on the trim piece around the door and front dash.. I dunno what the designer thinking there.

Another surprise for Premium is no option to have power passenger seat.

Regarding the wheel on Premium model (i was looking for the same model) I love the 18" wheel for potential offroad.

I don't mind to add options to Premium, but dislike the force 20" wheel for higher option.
 

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I agree with comparing the Ascent with the CX-9. Obviously, I ended up with the Ascent, but the CX-9 was a close second ahead of the Highlander, Pilot and Atlas.
 

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I traded a 16 Outback limited and the Ascent does not drive like my Outback. For one the steering is lighter in the Ascent. The structure feels much stiffer stronger. Bumps and potholes made are not noticeable in the Ascent where as my outback would have a issues. If anything, the Ascent feels more new Impreza,crosstrk than Outback. I came from the 2.5 and the Ascent's engine and cvt are much nicer
The new global,platform provides the structural sturdiness and firmness....
 

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The 2010-2019 legacy / ob is a weird duck. It was launched on a interm platform while the global platform was already a known item and being sorted out. Wagon bodys are notoriously flexy. Add a flexy platform and you get odd handling behaviors. The 2015’s got a badly needed stiffening to address the vibrations and other flex issues and the too soft suspension in the 2010-14’s.

The 2020 legacy and outback will be the best driving and stiffest rendition ever built due to the stiff global platform they will sit on.
 

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Finally found a dealership in our part of Southern Ontario (Canada) with vehicles to see & test drive. Dealer had two Limiteds in the tungsten colour; one inside and one outside for test drives.

First time driving any Subaru -- pretty impressed with the quiet ride and acceleration. Touchscreen is very responsive and navigation system is easy to use.

The wait continues for ours...
 

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I was really turned off by the really poor AC performance of the CX9. Countless owners in warm climates have complained about it and we spend a good amount of time in Central Florida. I also felt the cabin felt smaller than the Ascent. I will say the CX9 delivers a lot of value for the money and the fit and fitness impressive.
 

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I was really turned off by the really poor AC performance of the CX9. Countless owners in warm climates have complained about it and we spend a good amount of time in Central Florida. I also felt the cabin felt smaller than the Ascent. I will say the CX9 delivers a lot of value for the money and the fit and fitness impressive.
Biggest problem I have with Mazda is that, while efficient, the skyactiv engines are relatively gutless. The torque output from the 2.4T on the Ascent is great - big fat torque curve.
 

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I took the CX9 for a day....the dealership seemed to insist which was nice. It was the top trim model.

I have to say the interior quality was nice with comfortable seats. The leather and wood trim were beautiful and a nice audio system.

However at 6’ it took an effort not to hit my head on the sloping driver door jamb and the salesman cautioned me about that from the get go. I also found the front row cramped for a big person....ditto the second row. I just did not feel that row was as roomy as the Ascent.

The acceleration and torque from the Mazda turbo 4 was shocking right off the line. But under load I found that engine loud and unrefined even though a great performer.

The biggest issue with the Mazda (and tons of owners are complaining about this) is the anemic AC system. It was a hot Philly day and it just would not get cold enough. We spend a good amount of time at our home in Florida and this vehicle would never cut it down there. Even with tinting and a windshield screen vehicles get very hot.

I would put the CX-9 in the same class of value as the Ascent...you get a lot for the money.
 

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I'd like to add that it seems the MPG figures Mazda puts on the sticker more accurately represents real world numbers.
I think this is a result of them using EGR cooling and a firing order along with manifold in which hot gas has a hard time re-entering the combustion camber. These engines can run a leaner mixture because it doesn't have to use more fuel to help cool the cylinder.

Their are decent videos out there explaining this and Mazda's engine game seems to be outpacing everyone else right now. Hitting my head and tight cockpit really turned me off the CX-9 as well.
 

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I'm curious to see where Mazda goes with Skyactiv-D, personally. Diesel unfortunately has never really caught on with the US market, and the VW/Audi issues certainly didn't help that.
 
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