I think you're giving up too easily. On the one hand you attest to how great the Ascent is, but on the other you say it's not good for anything more than highway driving. You've done more with your Ascent than many of us, so it's definitely good for more than just highway driving. No, it will never compete with a lifted truck, but it is still quite capable.
I agree that it's unrealistic to expect it to compete with a truck, but as @Robert.Mauro
has shown with some mods it is amazingly capable.
Our two Subarus are stock and are still incredibly capable as long as you recognize it's a Subaru and not a truck. Whatever you decide, I hope you keep enjoying your Ascent.
I honestly thought the Ascent was more capable, but it's just not designed to be.
I have not taken it anywhere that there were not also Prius' and Sedans. I need something that can actually get me away from people and to some more remote trails.
I think I'd have more patience if I didn't already have to replace half the vehicle. I've had to do tires, brakes, full sized spare, fog lights, skid plates, etc... Whereas I could buy a stock Jeep, bronco, or Tacoma and they would all come with that. Idk why Subaru cheaped out so hard on their most expensive vehicle.
I'm still having issues with my skid plates and I'm not very impressed with the lift. The skids grind any time I'm making a sharp turn. The only fix ive been told is to keep putting more spacers on the skid plate. I am sick of having to work on this car that is a pain to even just jack up in the air since my skids cover the one lift point on the front of the vehicle.
I also think I've said a few times that the car should have come this height. (10" of clearance) It just feels like a normal SUV with the lift.
On top of all of that, I bought the car mainly for safety. So of course the safety rating had to be lowered the year after I bought it.
My Subaru dealer is also horrible. They couldn't even do my alignment correctly. They acted all confused when I brought it back in since it was pulling hard to the left. So, I'm essentially on my own with this vehicle that needs to be worked on every other week.
Overall, I have wasted way too much time on this vehicle. I did not realize it was such a giant drop off in capability from the Forester. I wish Subaru would tell people that it's basically a minivan in terms of off-road angles and that there are no good lift kits available for it. Every other Subaru you can lift 2-4 inches with actual full strut replacements. Replacing just the springs was not fun and I'm not a fan of how the suspension rides now. Wish I would have just left the vehicle as the boring grandma car that it is.