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Asking existing owners - why did you buy the Ascent? What else did you shop, and what led you to pick this vehicle?

My Audi Q5 lease expires in Oct, and for a new vehicle we want 3 rows, tow a travel trailer periodically, Apple Car Play, 360 camera and memory seats. After that, we're just looking for nice drive and good value in the $40 to $45k range.

I've driven the Palisade, Atlas, RAV4, Durango, Outback XT and the Ascent - and I'm pretty much settled on the Ascent.

The RAV4 is weedy, slow and pretty crappy. I really liked the Outback XT, but it's not big enough. I enjoyed the Palisade, but owner forums have little to nothing on towing. The sister car from Kia, the Telluride is hard to get and I couldn't sit in one - seems more people tow with that, but not many still.

The Atlas is nice, but I don't know I want to drive an EU car long term ... Thats one reason the Audi is going back!

So today, it was a drive between the Durango and the Ascent. The Ascent won, even though the Durango felt sportier and can tow better.

As I watch car reviewers compare vehicles in the segment, the Ascent doesn't always fair well - they claim cabin noise, intrusive safety features and lack of space, none of which I experienced in my test drive, even though I was looking. I do agree with them that I don't like the CVT.

So - why did you end up in an Ascent, and what else did you compare?
 

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I was coming from a 2010 town and country with 130k miles on it and well my kids were bigger and I wanted a more sporty car , always wanted a Subaru but I tried the telluride and the palisade, I hated the way the chairs felt on the telluride specially the rear ones and the palisade I liked but I liked the custom options I could do with the ascent
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was coming from a 2010 town and country with 130k miles on it and well my kids were bigger and I wanted a more sporty car , always wanted a Subaru but I tried the telluride and the palisade, I hated the way the chairs felt on the telluride specially the rear ones and the palisade I liked but I liked the custom options I could do with the ascent
Interesting - what options could you get in Subaru you couldn't get on the Kia/Hyundai? I found those two really well kitted out, feature wise.
 

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I wanted a car I could fit in parking garages for work. Something with a sense of adventure. Something with a good safety rating. I really wanted to fit in the Toyota Highlander and the 4Runner but I am way too tall. Subaru’s have always appealed to me but I never owned one. I was looking at the Forester and I fit in it ok but after my wife and I test road the Ascent the room for me was nice. So she talked me into the Ascent.
 

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1) handling. The only competitor that beat it was the CX-9.
2) Safety. unbeatable. Subaru has a commitment to it and it continues to show. With a young family I value it.
3) All condition performance. I don't worry about driving anywhere, anytime. I look forward to snow, rain and bad weather.
4) Value. For the money, nothing beats it.
I wanted a Durango initially because of the HP and higher tow rating. But honestly, I don't think I could own a Dodge. And with the very poor safety ratings it was out.
I also wanted a Highlander. Great vehicle, design, drivetrain, reliability. apples to apples way too expensive compared to the Ascent. If it was cheaper I may have opted for a HL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
1) handling. The only competitor that beat it was the CX-9.
2) Safety. unbeatable. Subaru has a commitment to it and it continues to show. With a young family I value it.
3) All condition performance. I don't worry about driving anywhere, anytime. I look forward to snow, rain and bad weather.
4) Value. For the money, nothing beats it.
I wanted a Durango initially because of the HP and higher tow rating. But honestly, I don't think I could own a Dodge. And with the very poor safety ratings it was out.
I also wanted a Highlander. Great vehicle, design, drivetrain, reliability. apples to apples way too expensive compared to the Ascent. If it was cheaper I may have opted for a HL.
Do you find some of those safety features invasive (as reviews had said)? I also looked at the Durango, but ... Dodge :/
 

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Main requirement: 3 rows
Important: trunk space, AWD

The ONLY competition at the time (mid 2018) was minivans, full size SUVs, Traverse, Durango, Santa Fe, Highlander, CX9
Cross off vehicles without much trunk space with the 3rd row up (4 kids) and transverse engines with faux-AWD...well that only really left the Ascent in my price range ($30-35k).
Leather wasn’t important to me but technology was. A lot has changed since 2018 as far as standard technology; only higher trim levels included similar technology to EyeSight at the time. The Ascent’s standard EyeSight, AWD, cargo space, and head unit with CarPlay (no desire to pay for built-in nav that will be out in date in a couple years when Waze is free and always up to date) basically sealed the deal.
Even in today’s market I’d likely choose the Ascent. The rear ends of the new Explorers are hideous imho, Tellurides are boring and trying too hard, Palisades are just boring, Traverses and CX9’s haven’t fixed what eliminated them for me in the first place.
The first couple things I did was put roof rack cross bars and a trailer hitch on it. The Ascent has met every challenge I’ve given it. Love it!
 

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I bought my Ascent because

1) the concept caught my eye
2) we're already devoted Subaru fans
3) there finally was a Subaru large enough to satisfy my desires and actual needs
4) it was time to get a new vehicle after driving my MY12 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit for 113K miles in 7 years

I did not cross shop any other vehicle. I'm 100% pleased with my Ascent at 20K miles including four round trips to Florida in a year and a few months.
 

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We sat in every 3-row SUV at a national auto show before going to the first dealership. The only vehicles that appealed to us were the Buick Enclave and Subaru Ascent. Every other 3-row SUV had something that we didn't like (styling, interior room, etc.). We drove both the Buick and the Subaru. The Buick definitely has an upscale feel to it, but a few things tipped us to the Subaru:

  • Safety features for the money paid. One would have to buy the top-level Enclave Avenir to get the same safety features and, even then, radar cruise control is an option. Subaru's EyeSight works incredibly well. I'm super pleased with it.
  • Transmission. I haven't been completely satisfied with the programming on an automatic transmission in recent years, the Ascent's CVT included. However, one thing it really has going for it is the lack of shifting. We live in a mostly rural area and do a lot of driving on rural highways and interstates. The smooth stepless ratio changes as the car climbs and descends hills is sublime. Some of the programming is a little goofy around town I think. Again, I don't count this against it too much because I'm usually not happy with any automatic transmission with regards to the programming. The fact that Subaru includes paddle shifters is a huge plus to me. I use them regularly. (Most other cars just force you to live with "drive" mode.)
  • Turbo Boxer engine. I really like 4-cylinder engines, and the reassuring hum you get in the background. But most inline-4s also come with a lot of nasty vibrations or a lot of engineering to mitigate them. So I've stayed mostly with V-6s lately. But the boxer engine has a natural balance to it. It's a very smooth engine.
  • Styling. We generally like understated styling and aren't into the ostentatious or aggressive "tough guy" personas that seem somewhat common today. I personally think the Kia's styling is pretty silly and the weird quilted interior fabrics/leathers will look dated pretty quickly. The Ascent looks very good to us, and we (I) immediately fell in love with the Touring's interior color scheme. It's still growing on my wife (the Java Brown color), but we appreciate and use the Touring's features on a daily basis (power folding mirrors, front camera, and smart rearview mirror).
I would prefer against the 20" wheels you're forced into with the Limited and Touring (I'd rather the 18" size), but they're performing well so far.
 

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My contenders were Ascent,CX-9, Telluride and Palisade. To be honest, Ascent was 4th on my list. I've owned 5 Mazdas and they're known, reliable, high quality and frankly the CX-9 is the best looking of the bunch.

Here's what knocked the others out leaving the Ascent standing. (I was comparing only top trims in order to get every safety feature and AWD)

1. Palisade - my wife and I are short. Neither one of us could get comfortable in the front seats despite all the adjustments. The road tests must not have been with 20" wheels. The cars I test drove rode harsh and loud. Dealer wouldn't budge 1 cent off of MSRP and insisted on thousands extra for invisible paint and fabric protectors. No thanks.

2. Telluride - the only true fault that I found with the vehicle was strong torque steer even with AWD. My wife is heavy on the gas and I wouldn't feel comfortable having her drive a car that wants to change lanes when the light turns green. The rest was the (multiple) dealers' faults. If you go into the dealer looking at a Sorrento, they are eager and flexible, as soon as you bring up thinking about the Telluride they become greedy S.O.B.s. Too many top reviews went to their heads. No way I was going to pay over MSRP for a Kia or any other car. Over $60k for a Kia???!!! No thanks.

3. CX-9 - honestly, I still have some regrets over not buying the Mazda. There's only 3 knocks against it. Smaller interior space. 3500 lb towing limit. In the signature trim, the tall center row console blocks the full length load floor when the 2nd and 3rd row are folded. My other car is a Mazda and the dealer has a retention specialist who calls every month to check on my satisfaction. Can't beat their customer focus. The same family owns the Subaru dealership so hopefully they're as good.

The Ascent was the last car standing.
 

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Needed a 3-row vehicle. Had to have a good safety suite/reputation. AWD, particularly for good handling in snow/ice. Not going to do any serious off-roading, but the laneway to our house becomes a skating rink in the winter, and the road to our cottage can be rough. Wanted the 3rd row to be ok for adults on ~4hr drives. Other things: heated seats, heated wheel, Apple/Android.

We tried the CX-9 and Pilot as well.
  • CX-9 drove really nicely--I'm used to my parents' CX-5, and the bigger vehicle didn't feel all that different--and the interior, esp. seats are great. However storage/3rd row seating all felt cramped, and my wife hated the enclosed feel. She felt the visibility was bad. And it's not really designed with a roof rack in mind, but we knew we'd be using one a lot.
  • Pilot was nice, drove well, and we liked the interior pretty well. The 7-seat layout wasn't great for us, with a cubby in between the seats--the kids use that as their path into the 3rd row; it also had a built-in rear entertainment screen thing, which we really didn't want. My wife also felt it drove a bit more like a bus than the Ascent, and that the visibility was a bit worse (I didn't notice a huge difference, TBH).
Do you find some of those safety features invasive (as reviews had said)? I also looked at the Durango, but ... Dodge :/
I also was wary about that due to reviews. I haven't found them to be problematic in practice though.
  • I probably will turn off the beep notification every time the car picks up a car in front of you with cruise control on. It feels a bit overkill. But it's not nearly as annoying as the reviews made it out to be.
  • The lane assist can feel a bit intrusive when it's shoving you back into the lane. Esp if you're passing a truck that's crowding your lane, or on curvy highways where the flow of traffic is cutting corners. Fortunately it's easy to turn off from the steering wheel.
  • The rear assist braking does get spooked in our laneway--there are lots of day lilies and cedars that we brush up against, so I don't blame it, but it sometimes reads them as collisions and sometimes not, which is a bit odd. Again, easy enough to turn off.
Some other things about the Ascent:
  • Cabin noise: yeah, it's not the quietest, but it's not that bad. Doesn't bother me. Although with our roof box on, I do close the moonroof shutter.
  • Seats are fine, but I disagree with reviews that praise them.
  • We hated the brown leather interior so the highest-level trim (called Touring in the US) was not an option. But we do wish we had the front-facing camera. The hood is pretty big, so would be nice to see better when parking.
  • The sound system has some frustrating design decisions--no play/pause button on the wheel, volume changes display on the whole screen (super irritating when you have maps up)
  • The steering is very light. I prefer needing to use a bit more force
  • Rear doors are well designed for stepping up to access the roof rack
  • The extra screen on the dash is nice, even without the front camera. Put on the music info there and have the map on the big screen.
  • Physical controls for the AC/heat is a plus.
 

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Forgot to say. As a long time and current GM owner, I ruled them out over the start/stop technology does not have an override.
 

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Do you find some of those safety features invasive (as reviews had said)? I also looked at the Durango, but ... Dodge :/
Not at all. It’s seamless. It works when I’ve needed it. I like to test out features in a slow or controlled environment. It’s amazing how it will intervene just as you think “oh shite”. The only thing I did t like was the lane keep assist. I leave that off. If it had a better lane centering I’d use it on road trips but in town it’s a bit annoying.
I enjoy car reviews and have watched a lot. Some are fair and try to be unbiased some are not.
 

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Asking existing owners - why did you buy the Ascent? What else did you shop, and what led you to pick this vehicle?

My Audi Q5 lease expires in Oct, and for a new vehicle we want 3 rows, tow a travel trailer periodically, Apple Car Play, 360 camera and memory seats. After that, we're just looking for nice drive and good value in the $40 to $45k range.

I've driven the Palisade, Atlas, RAV4, Durango, Outback XT and the Ascent - and I'm pretty much settled on the Ascent.

The RAV4 is weedy, slow and pretty crappy. I really liked the Outback XT, but it's not big enough. I enjoyed the Palisade, but owner forums have little to nothing on towing. The sister car from Kia, the Telluride is hard to get and I couldn't sit in one - seems more people tow with that, but not many still.

The Atlas is nice, but I don't know I want to drive an EU car long term ... Thats one reason the Audi is going back!

So today, it was a drive between the Durango and the Ascent. The Ascent won, even though the Durango felt sportier and can tow better.

As I watch car reviewers compare vehicles in the segment, the Ascent doesn't always fair well - they claim cabin noise, intrusive safety features and lack of space, none of which I experienced in my test drive, even though I was looking. I do agree with them that I don't like the CVT.

So - why did you end up in an Ascent, and what else did you compare?
Hmmm...because Subaru is the best? This my 3rd Subaru so yeah, I'm a fan.
I compered and research all competitors and kept coming back to Ascent. My wife is very picky but after last Ascent test drive she says this is it.
A year later and i have no regrets. This is great car!
 

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Asking existing owners - why did you buy the Ascent? What else did you shop, and what led you to pick this vehicle?

My Audi Q5 lease expires in Oct, and for a new vehicle we want 3 rows, tow a travel trailer periodically, Apple Car Play, 360 camera and memory seats. After that, we're just looking for nice drive and good value in the $40 to $45k range.

I've driven the Palisade, Atlas, RAV4, Durango, Outback XT and the Ascent - and I'm pretty much settled on the Ascent.

The RAV4 is weedy, slow and pretty crappy. I really liked the Outback XT, but it's not big enough. I enjoyed the Palisade, but owner forums have little to nothing on towing. The sister car from Kia, the Telluride is hard to get and I couldn't sit in one - seems more people tow with that, but not many still.

The Atlas is nice, but I don't know I want to drive an EU car long term ... Thats one reason the Audi is going back!

So today, it was a drive between the Durango and the Ascent. The Ascent won, even though the Durango felt sportier and can tow better.

As I watch car reviewers compare vehicles in the segment, the Ascent doesn't always fair well - they claim cabin noise, intrusive safety features and lack of space, none of which I experienced in my test drive, even though I was looking. I do agree with them that I don't like the CVT.

So - why did you end up in an Ascent, and what else did you compare?
Needed a 7 passenger (3-row) vehicle and had been driving Subarus for 35 years -- thus have somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 miles driving experience with Subaru with great reliability, the security of their AWD and incredible re-sale values. I didn't seriously consider anything else back in early 2019 -- the reviews were much better for the Ascent than any of its competitors and the Telluride/Palisade were not on the market yet. I later went to check out the Palisade and it appears to be a nice vehicle, but with two major drawbacks for me (dealers want over MSRP and Palisade is about 2 inches wider than the Ascent, which already is a larger vehicle than I like).

So we ended up with an 8-passenger 2019 Ascent Limited which has been a great vehicle -- quiet, powerful and love the Eyesight features, which I do not find intrusive at all. I set the beeps on the lowest volume and everything works great, although I don't find the Lane Keep Assist of much. value. All in all, very pleased with our Ascent.
 
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We came from a GLS 450, and wanted something a little less pretentious.

We were pretty much set on the CX-9 signature, but at the last minute my wife and I decided to try the Ascent, because people tend to really like their Subarus. We also liked that there was a little bit better visibility out of the Subaru, plus second row captain's chairs, even though we thought the CX-9 drove better and had a much nicer interior...

In hindsight, honestly, we should have gone with the CX-9. The Subaru is a nice, comfortable car to drive and ride in, but I don't enjoy driving it. That's not a slap against the Ascent, it just wasn't the right car for us, And I tell most people that I know that I think it would be a great car for them. We ended up supplementing our collection with a Jaguar F-Pace, to have something fun to drive that could still make it up to our vacation house in the winter.I don't know that we would have done that if we had bought the CX-9...

had the Kia Hyundai twins been out, we might have gone that route. But for our next one, we'll probably go back to a GLS, or something a little bit more luxury oriented.

I will say, in terms of bang for the buck, the vehicles in this space offer ridiculously great value. But it's not quite the same as having one of the luxury brands. I never thought I would actually say that, but having owned the Jaguar and Merc, there is a difference in the ride/drive/ownership experience, and there darn well should be for the difference in cost.. But when you look at the Venn diagram for value, performance, price, predicted reliability, the Ascent, CX9, and a number of others are right in that center spot.
 

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I will say, in terms of bang for the buck, the vehicles in this space offer ridiculously great value. But it's not quite the same as having one of the luxury brands. I never thought I would actually say that, but having owned the Jaguar and Merc, there is a difference in the ride/drive/ownership experience, and there darn well should be for the difference in cost.. But when you look at the Venn diagram for value, performance, price, predicted reliability, the Ascent, CX9, and a number of others are right in that center spot.
I absolutely agree. I don't have a ton of experience with some of these brands, but my dad does have a 2014 SLK350. I've driven it some and it's very enjoyable to drive. It's also just SOLID. Not solid for a convertible, but SOLID. I have to think their other cars are the same way. The ride is superb, and far and away better than anything a pleb like me would drive. :)

The Ascent is like buying the biggest house in a middle class neighborhood, vs. buying the smallest house in a neighborhood full of custom homes. You get "more for your money", but some of the fundamentals are still builder grade. We knew this going in, and valued the safety features (that are pretty universally rated to be some of the most effective of active safety features) over a better build quality over all. The sunglasses holder is and feels cheap (in the Ascent). The mirrors fold, but they don't auto-dip and they're not linked to the memory seat (something that luxury brands have been doing for 20 years). The front suspension is a MacPherson strut vs. a more complicated (and expensive) multi-link. The CVT programming introduces certain impulses and quirks that wouldn't be tolerated in an Audi or a Mercedes (not talking the simulated shifts here). None of these are obviously deal-breakers, but the nicer stuff does usually add up to a higher level of refinement. Certainly, that has to be paid for at some point.

Our Ascent is our first Subaru, and I do like the design "flavor" they have going on. The more basic boxer engines, the CVTs, the "practical vs. luxury" theme they have. Our next might be a Forester. But there's no question the Ascent is inching into "custom home" territory (regarding price) with a 2x4 stick frame.
 

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I absolutely agree. I don't have a ton of experience with some of these brands, but my dad does have a 2014 SLK350. I've driven it some and it's very enjoyable to drive. It's also just SOLID. Not solid for a convertible, but SOLID. I have to think their other cars are the same way. The ride is superb, and far and away better than anything a pleb like me would drive. :)

The Ascent is like buying the biggest house in a middle class neighborhood, vs. buying the smallest house in a neighborhood full of custom homes. You get "more for your money", but some of the fundamentals are still builder grade. We knew this going in, and valued the safety features (that are pretty universally rated to be some of the most effective of active safety features) over a better build quality over all. The sunglasses holder is and feels cheap (in the Ascent). The mirrors fold, but they don't auto-dip and they're not linked to the memory seat (something that luxury brands have been doing for 20 years). The front suspension is a MacPherson strut vs. a more complicated (and expensive) multi-link. The CVT programming introduces certain impulses and quirks that wouldn't be tolerated in an Audi or a Mercedes (not talking the simulated shifts here). None of these are obviously deal-breakers, but the nicer stuff does usually add up to a higher level of refinement. Certainly, that has to be paid for at some point.

Our Ascent is our first Subaru, and I do like the design "flavor" they have going on. The more basic boxer engines, the CVTs, the "practical vs. luxury" theme they have. Our next might be a Forester. But there's no question the Ascent is inching into "custom home" territory (regarding price) with a 2x4 stick frame.
Spot on analogies. As someone who has twice bought the smallest, cheapest house in neighborhood with much bigger nicer houses, the Subaru falls into the same value proposition. It's in the neighborhood with the more impressive and prestigious SUVs, but no one is going to confuse it for a more luxurious or prestigious car.
 

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The more prestigious brands all seem to have much more costly maintenance and most require premium fuel. Also repairs on them after the warranty are much more expensive.
 
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