Car Guide traveled to Picton, Ontario, to test drive the 2023 Subaru Ascent, the brand’s largest SUV. For 2023, the Ascent gets a few tech updates and a minor cosmetic update.
On site, we had the opportunity to test the car in several environments: city, road, but also on muddy tracks to make a complete analysis of Subaru’s skills.
We drove about 300 kilometers in two different versions: first, the Premier ($53,995) – which is at the top of the range – and then the Touring ($45,495) – just above the Convenience of the Base model. With its five variants, the 2023 Subaru Ascent price range ranges from $40,995 to $53,995 (MSRP). Delivery time is estimated at 90 days.
A few cosmetic fixes
For 2023, the Ascent will feature a new front fascia that includes a more prominent grille, redesigned LED headlights, and a new larger air intake that improves airflow under the car. At the rear, the C-shaped (Konoji) lights have been updated.
Many would say this is a conservative approach to styling, but Subaru tells us that after researching the target audience – mainly adults in their 40s and 50s and families – they came to the conclusion that customers don’t want an avant-garde design, but it works. A car should be versatile and fun to drive as well.
Otherwise, the aesthetic differences in bodywork within the Ascent range are minimal. In fact, only the size of the rims, glass caps and bumper changes.
Adventure and maneuverability
Despite its size, the Subaru Ascent surprises with its maneuverability, which is partly explained by the position of its engine. Thanks to its design, the 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four (power 260 and 277 lb-ft of torque) can be placed very low in the engine compartment, further reducing the center of gravity. This is evident in terms of handling in urban driving and even on the beaten track. Additionally, the suspension and chassis have been tuned to allow for better agility.
In daily driving, acceleration is straightforward and pick-ups are also good. Even if the CVT box – which simulates eight gears – does not give much pleasure, we emphasize its good performance. Unfortunately, Subaru doesn’t plan on hybrid or electric engines at the moment…
The compatibility of the Subaru wheel drive has been tested, as we tested it on all possible surfaces: on the road, sand, mud and rocks and, unsurprisingly, the system adjusts well enough. In fact, we felt a little like riding an ATV thanks to its 220 mm clearance – higher than several rivals.
Strangely, we heard external noises that seemed to come from the suspension of some road. Still, the Ascent shines with its off-road prowess. X-MODE activates the downhill speed control feature on steep slopes. Onyx, Limited and Premier models come standard with two X-MODE modes. Adds Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings.
As for fuel consumption, our one-day test ended with a very good average of 9.7 L/100 km. Natural Resources Canada advertises 11.0 liters per 100 km.
Compatible with technology
The interior of the 2023 Subaru Legacy can accommodate eight or seven passengers (without the premium option), depending on the version selected. Occupants sit on comfortable chairs. Clearances are adequate, and a person with a height of 1.80 m can sit in the third row without a problem – at least for a short distance.
At the front of the car is the Cabin Connect feature, a microphone that allows the pilot to communicate more easily with third-row passengers.
The trunk has a loading volume of 458 liters. By lowering all seats in the second and third rows, this figure increases to 2,150 liters (2,061 liters for Touring versions and above). Towing capacity ranges from 908 to 2,270 kg (2,000 lb to 5,000 lb). Roof rails come standard.
The instrument consists of two needle dials and a small digital monitor – simple and effective. As for infotainment, the Ascent 2023 receives the latest version of the multimedia system as standard through an 11.6-inch screen which, by the way, is user-friendly and ergonomic.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard wireless. Updates are done remotely, and the resolution of the rearview camera is four times greater than the previous iteration. The luxury variants are entitled to a well-designed Harman Kardon audio system with What3words navigation option.
Lots of technology and gadgets
When it comes to safety, the Ascent holds the distinction Best Choice Security+ 2022 from an American organization Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Everything indicates that the 2023 model will receive the same respect, especially since the latter has received several technological improvements.
Indeed, the new generation EyeSight driver assistance technology (version 4) now includes a stereoscopic camera, a wide-angle camera and an automatic emergency driving function. As for the various driving aids, the adaptive cruise control works smoothly and smoothly, while the lane keeping system works well enough.
The MySubaru app includes several customizable settings, such as remote start, climate control and vehicle information. It does not work with satellite signals, but instead with air waves.
The Subaru Ascent doesn’t have to be ashamed of its competitors, the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade/Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas. It offers the versatility needed for families while evoking adventures, thanks to its all-wheel drive capability. In short, it is a smart choice for users, even if other rivals will seem more attractive in terms of design and technological integration.