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'21 Ascent ISM Touring
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll start by saying I'm an engineer by trade and I over-analyze everything.
We are a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids 8, 5, 2.5) with occasional guest passengers.
Our daily driver is an Odyssey minivan but as the kids start to do more activities again, we have come to the realization that we need another car with additional capacity, as my sedan no longer fits everyone safely. I've read a ton of posts here before posting and while this post may be a tad redundant to some others, for my own sanity it's worth going through the motions.
I've been obsessing over the Ascent for a while as the most safe/reasonable/practical choice, vs mildly-similar 7-seaters like the Honda Pilot, Acura MDX, etc.
By the end of April I should be in a better position to go ahead and make the leap, but I'm trying to put to rest the little concerns that are holding us back.
On paper, the Ascent ticks all the boxes. But some of the posts here and some videos on youtube have me a bit concerned.
My wife and I finally got a moment without the kids to take a test drive tonight and got to the dealer an hour before closing.
The "sales expert" we got was literally exhausted. He said they had sold 18 cars just today and its not usually this busy.
Apparently people are starting to buy things again.
I let him know we already had done a ton of research, weren't ready to buy yet, and just wanted to test drive an Ascent to get a feel for it. He was fine with that and literally handed us the keys and even offered to let us go alone.
That's probably the first time I've ever gotten to do a test drive without a company chaperone, so that was interesting and in Subaru's favor.
But here's where it gets strange. We take the car in a loop around the area, and immediately noticed once we hit about 50, the car whistled very loudly. Like the howling of wind noise, and it was very off-putting. After reading posts here it could be one of about 10 different things, but I'm guessing it was the roof rack. I did let them know and he acknowledged that "yeah sometimes we have cars that whistle". Oof. Not a good thing to say.
3 Model years in, are they still ironing out the bugs with the 2021? Or is it really the best Subaru yet and because they're making so many, it's just random quality issues?
The other picky thing my wife noticed was that the steering wheel was "too small" and felt different.
From what I could find It is only half an inch smaller than the steering wheels she'd be used to, but she said it was awkward and would take getting used to. Then I told her we could get unlimited hotspot for $20 and then it balanced out.
All that said, basically we keep orbiting around the Ascent, but it each pro keeps getting negated by a con, or vice-versa.
What can you super happy owners tell us that would convince us we're making the right choice?
Thanks in advance!
 

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You could be right about the roof rack causing noise. There’s even a good chance the dealer installed it, not the factory. See if they’ll let you test drive another?
How old was your odyssey? Did it have electric steering like the Ascent? The Ascent’s steering wheel is small, which doesn’t take long to get used to, because it doesn’t need to be big!
Since you have the time, what other vehicles are you considering test driving?
 

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My Ascent has never made any whistling noise and I'm sensitive about such things, so this isn't a common occurrence. Simply test drive the one you select before buying it.

I've never noticed that the wheel was smaller. The ergonomics of the Ascent are excellent. When driving a different car for the first time, things will always appear strange and different and we become hypersensitive to everything because we're focusing so hard. Most people acclimate to a new vehicle fairly quickly and it soon becomes the new norm.

You're going to find such things on any new car you test drive. Focus on what you like and then compare each vehicle you drive. No car will ever be perfect, but chose the one that comes the closest to what you prefer.
 

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2019 Ascent Touring (CWP)
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If it wa sthe roof rack whistling, it may have been cross bars that were installed backwards...it's a very common thing, both for dealers and consumers to miss that the "fat" part goes forward. Reversing that makes noise because of how air flows.

Do another test drive on a different Ascent. AFAIK, the whistling you describe is not a common issue unless someone did something wrong, such as what I just previously mentioned. Make sure the windows are all up, too. A slightly cracked open window can sometimes make that sound on any vehicle...
 
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21 Ascent Premium, 18 Outback Ltd 2.5
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I'm in a similar position. I've been mostly lurking here for years (before the Ascent was available) and have tried to follow as much of the good/bad that's posted here and the Ascent still tops the list on paper for me. I've yet to drive one, but I own an Outback and have been pleased with it for 67k miles so far. My refi closes next week, then I will be hitting the dealers and I'm expecting we'll enjoy the Ascent as much as the Outback.

As other have mentioned, there will always be something with every model, it's just a matter of what your family can/can't live with. This is just one data point and maybe not 100% objective, but Ascent was #2 behind the Telluride. IMO at my price point (Premium) the Ascent wins. Also much better AWD if that matters to you.
 

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'21 Ascent ISM Touring
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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Since you have the time, what other vehicles are you considering test driving?
It's a 2016 Odyssey so I do think it's all electric steering, it does ok. Comparatively I thought the Subaru felt good, but the whistling was SO distracting I didn't have time to really soak it in and enjoy it. We will definitely try another, probably the Touring.
Also of note, we are long time Saturn owners and feel like Subaru is the closest brand philosophically, so when Saturn was killed by GM we said that we would definitely look at them in the future.
As far as the competition, I think it's down to the Honda Pilot or Acura MDX. I've basically rationalized away both of those options because it makes sense to diversify and not have two of the same brand family. Both of those also have practically no room behind the third row. And the MDX would make me immensely sad if the kids managed to make an unerasable mess (and we know they will).
I like the look of Buick SUVs, but that got the Wife's veto. Wife also wanted to look at the Audi Q7 but it just seems too impractical so that got my veto.
We do want something that is easy on the eyes, so that eliminates the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Mazda CX-9. We are not fans of Toyota so that eliminates the Highlander. The VW Atlas also looks too spartan and doesn't provide many creature comforts, so that's out. The GMC and Chevy also feel small and got poor reviews.
So here we are back at the Ascent by process of elimination, I think we'd be happy with it, just trying to make sure we've done our due diligence. Honestly my second choice would be for the higher end Buick despite the wife acceptance factor, maybe we need to just try it to prove we won't like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If it wa sthe roof rack whistling, it may have been cross bars that were installed backwards...it's a very common thing, both for dealers and consumers to miss that the "fat" part goes forward. Reversing that makes noise because of how air flows.

Do another test drive on a different Ascent. AFAIK, the whistling you describe is not a common issue unless someone did something wrong, such as what I just previously mentioned. Make sure the windows are all up, too. A slightly cracked open window can sometimes make that sound on any vehicle...
Yep I think this was the issue. We reset all the doors and windows and shut off climate control so that pretty much leaves roof attachment or a bad seal somewhere. I think it was the "that happens" attitude of the sales person that left me concerned. I don't have time to bring it back to the dealer to chase phantom noises or other problems so this would be a big show stopper.
 

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@LinuxNerd
Addressing your primary question, "The Ascent should Practically Sell Itself... What am I missing?"
IMHO, it starts with styling. The Ascent is extremely conservatively styled. Compared to a telluride, cx-9, f-pace etc, it looks 10 years old right out of the showroom. Don't flame me, I said it was my opinion, feel free to differ.

Next it's the number of dealers. Even Mazda has more dealers. The further one has to travel and the smaller the network of service locations, the harder it is to reach the market.

Again, IMHO, fit and finish. In the price range, for those who aren't off-roaders, the interior isn't as plush as the competition. Even the touring's interior (I have a Touring) shouts utilitarian far louder than luxury.

Clearly, the Ascent and the other Subaru models have their target markets but don't have the mass appeal of many competitors.

Now, as a hyper analytical type, you probably are fine with a vehicle that checks your boxes but falls the mass market criteria.
 

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First... what's your distro?

Secondly, that whistling noise you describe sounds like something that is specific to that individual car you test drove. I've been hitting 60+ in my Ascent and not once have I heard any whistling sound. Additionally, any whistling complaints I've read about Ascents prior to getting one only had to do with the roof rack.
 

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2021 Ascent Limited. 2005 Forester.
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I definitely noticed the steering wheel was smaller than the competitor vehicles I drove. Didn't matter to me at all and I was used to it very quickly. No whistles or any weird noises at all. I agree that as long as you drive the one you are buying and make sure it isn't whistling there shouldn't be much issue with that. We drove the other cars we were considering the same day, back-to-back and that was immensely helpful. I couldn't believe the cost of the Buick to get similar features - and that from a GM car which will plummet in value faster.

After driving the vehicles I went back to the million video reviews I had watched and realized my criteria weren't the same as theirs. I loved how it drove and actually preferred the interior to other vehicles they said was better. I have only had mine for a couple months now but it has been nothing but positive. Very happy with the purchase.

I agree that the "that happens" kind of statement is not reassuring but I guess it's more the attitude in the service department that will matter since the salesman will not likely be a big part of the troubleshooting is my guess? Maybe call the service department and ask them about the whistling and see what they say about if they have taken care of that for other people much?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
First... what's your distro?
I've been using some form of Linux since the mid nineties, started with slackware and RedHat, have run with many different distros over the years but most recently using Ubuntu. We work from home but having an actually affordable wifi hotspot might get us out of the house more often.
 

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I've been using some form of Linux since the mid nineties, started with slackware and RedHat, have run with many different distros over the years but most recently using Ubuntu. We work from home but having an actually affordable wifi hotspot might get us out of the house more often.
Ah, I recently in the past few years switched careers to IT, and I've mainly been running with ParrotOS (security) and then Ubuntu as my daily drivers, with Kali as my "work/project" distro. ParrotOS would definitely still be my daily driver if it was more stable, but it can't come close to Ubuntu's stability and community support.
 

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think it was the "that happens" attitude of the sales person that left me concerned
Also take into account that it was a long day for the person, but IMO that's not really an excuse. As a customer facing employee you have to realize that one time you slip may be the one time it matters.
 

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We test drove 3 different Ascents back to back. The first two had the whistling noise at 50+ just like you mentioned. The third did not... what was the difference? The third didnt have the crossbars installed yet... thats why i asked to test drive it... to prove to myself that it was "just" the installation of the crossbars causing that noise. As others have said, it seems to be a far too common mistake for the dealer to make when they install the crossbars.
 
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All of the cars you are looking at should be good and last a long time. I am partial to the Ascent for my own reasons which may be different than your and others. The Honda Pilot and Acura MDX are probably both good so I would leave it up to the personal taste of you and very importantly your wife. If you "overrule" her in any choice then she will never be happy with whatever you choose. You mentioned diversifying among brands if you do your own maintenance it might be better to stick to one brand. In addition to my Ascent I have a few GMs. It is good that they use some of the same parts and filters and I can stock up on them. Good luck with your choice you should do well with any of them.
 

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I'll start by saying I'm an engineer by trade and I over-analyze everything.
We are a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 kids 8, 5, 2.5) with occasional guest passengers.
Our daily driver is an Odyssey minivan but as the kids start to do more activities again, we have come to the realization that we need another car with additional capacity, as my sedan no longer fits everyone safely. I've read a ton of posts here before posting and while this post may be a tad redundant to some others, for my own sanity it's worth going through the motions.
I've been obsessing over the Ascent for a while as the most safe/reasonable/practical choice, vs mildly-similar 7-seaters like the Honda Pilot, Acura MDX, etc.
By the end of April I should be in a better position to go ahead and make the leap, but I'm trying to put to rest the little concerns that are holding us back.
On paper, the Ascent ticks all the boxes. But some of the posts here and some videos on youtube have me a bit concerned.
My wife and I finally got a moment without the kids to take a test drive tonight and got to the dealer an hour before closing.
The "sales expert" we got was literally exhausted. He said they had sold 18 cars just today and its not usually this busy.
Apparently people are starting to buy things again.
I let him know we already had done a ton of research, weren't ready to buy yet, and just wanted to test drive an Ascent to get a feel for it. He was fine with that and literally handed us the keys and even offered to let us go alone.
That's probably the first time I've ever gotten to do a test drive without a company chaperone, so that was interesting and in Subaru's favor.
But here's where it gets strange. We take the car in a loop around the area, and immediately noticed once we hit about 50, the car whistled very loudly. Like the howling of wind noise, and it was very off-putting. After reading posts here it could be one of about 10 different things, but I'm guessing it was the roof rack. I did let them know and he acknowledged that "yeah sometimes we have cars that whistle". Oof. Not a good thing to say.
3 Model years in, are they still ironing out the bugs with the 2021? Or is it really the best Subaru yet and because they're making so many, it's just random quality issues?
The other picky thing my wife noticed was that the steering wheel was "too small" and felt different.
From what I could find It is only half an inch smaller than the steering wheels she'd be used to, but she said it was awkward and would take getting used to. Then I told her we could get unlimited hotspot for $20 and then it balanced out.
All that said, basically we keep orbiting around the Ascent, but it each pro keeps getting negated by a con, or vice-versa.
What can you super happy owners tell us that would convince us we're making the right choice?
Thanks in advance!
The Ascent got off to a rocky start. With bad welds and CVT problems also in true Subaru fashion it looks way bland. And I think that might be why the Ascent sales are down. Not to mention cost and COVID. Subaru's lower cost Forester apparently is selling very well. Also those that have bad experiences with their Ascents or anything are always more vocal. So take Ascent complaints on internet forums with a grain of salt. As for the whistling noise. Have you taken the roof rack cross bars off? Try that if you can.
"Subaru of America )SOA) reports 2020 sales, and the Subaru Ascent finished the year with a drop in sales like all SOA's nameplates due to COVID. The Ascent had 67,623 sales in 2020 compared with 81,958 in 2019, down 17.5 percent."
 

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The Ascent got off to a rocky start. With bad welds and CVT problems
What "bad welds"? The issue with the CVT early on wasn't the CVT which has been in use now for over 12 years by Subaru (the version in the Ascent)...it was the wiring harness that for some VINs, caused the CVT to fail. Subaru took care of it.
 

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Yep I think this was the issue. We reset all the doors and windows and shut off climate control so that pretty much leaves roof attachment or a bad seal somewhere. I think it was the "that happens" attitude of the sales person that left me concerned. I don't have time to bring it back to the dealer to chase phantom noises or other problems so this would be a big show stopper.
the first mistake of a buyer is taking the sales person seriously as if most are honest brokers (not speaking legally). Most are not but work hard on trying to appear that way.
 
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