2019 Subaru Ascent


The 2019 Subaru Ascent Touring I reviewed had a 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four boxer engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). I was surprised at the amount of pickup it had for a fairly large car (three-row SUV) with only a four-cylinder engine. But, the turbocharge makes getting up to speed pretty quick, and you could pass other vehicles when needed.


Many people take issue with CVTs. But I have to say that it didn’t feel as weird as I thought it would. From a dead stop, you can definitely feel the turbo kick in at about 4,000 RPMs. Because of this, I didn’t feel much difference between this vehicle and an SUV with a V8. Of course, this Subaru is all-wheel-drive as just about every Subaru has been for the last 20 years. Arguably, Subaru has one of the best all-wheel-drive systems in the industry.

Dashboard and Controls

The center information center (between the analog speedometer and tachometer) allows you to view a large amount of information about the current condition of the car, including the tire pressure in each of the tires. This is much better than the old systems that did not tell you which tire was low.

The steering wheel has the standard controls for music volume, phones, lane-keep assist, and cruise control.  But one feature that I really like is the heated steering wheel. This is something that we in the Midwest really appreciate on our many, many cold days. Finally, the steering wheel includes paddle shifters, which is fun and yet a little unusual for an SUV.

One really unique control is a button with a picture of a tailgate and the word “MEMORY.” This button allows you to set the height of the tailgate opening in memory. So, if you open the tailgate only halfway and set this feature, the tailgate will only open that far the next time. This is great if you have a garage with a low ceiling or a bicycle rack or something similar.

The Ascent also has two seat memory buttons. These are great and handy when the people who normally drive the care are very different in height.

There is a “View” button, which is a handy feature that I haven’t seen in too many cars.  When you push the button, it allows you to see what is directly in front of the car using the front-facing camera. This is really a great idea since the front is a little tall, and it would help when parking in a cramped space.

The seats are both heated and cooled. This is a great luxury, especially in the Midwest, where it can be 80 degrees Fahrenheit one minute and 20 below the next.

Rearview Mirror

One of my favorite features on this car is the rearview mirror. When you flip up the tab at the bottom, it turns into a video monitor that shows the view from the rear camera! This is such a great feature that I think every car should have this.


The sunroof is gigantic. It goes over almost the entire length of the car. This means the passengers in the second row also get to enjoy the sunroof. How cool is that!

Backup Brake

Finally, one feature that could actually save someone’s life is what I call the automatic backup brake. The car will actually put on the brakes if it senses a person is behind the car. I tested this with (safely), and it really does work!

Final Thoughts

This is a great car for taking friends out on the town. I call it the “grownup” Subaru because it has a lot of style and feels more mature than some of the other SUVs I’ve driven.

Written by Gary Pradel