Subaru Ascent Concept: Subaru Finally Gets The Three-Row SUV Right

Subaru has been very successful selling its cars and SUVs in the US market. The company has currently racked up sixty-five consecutive months of record-breaking sales. It cannot produce its Foresters, Outbacks, Crosstreks, and other vehicles fast enough to meet the demand. But success in the three-row SUV category has always eluded the company. 

From 2005 to 2014, the Subaru Tribeca was Subaru’s entry in the three-row SUV market. But the Tribeca was one of Subaru’s few sales failures in recent years. From its unappealing exterior styling to its cramped interior, the Tribeca fell short of the competition in just about every major way. 

Subaru seemed unwilling to do what was necessary – abandon the limits of its aging Legacy/Outback platform and design something new from the ground up to meet the needs of the three-row utility vehicle buyer. With the unveiling of the Subaru Ascent SUV Concept the 2017 New York International Auto Show, Subaru has shown that it is committed to the needs of consumers in this vehicle segment.

The Ascent SUV Concept Is Ready For Production

Let’s start with the name: Subaru has confirmed that the production vehicle will be named the Subaru Ascent. The Ascent will be built on the new Subaru Global Platform and produced in Subaru’s Lafayette, Indiana plant. It will be sold exclusively in the North American market starting in 2018.

Subaru has even released some specifications for the production Ascent:

  • Seating Capacity: 7
  • Length: 198.8”
  • Width: 78.3”
  • Height: 72.4“
  • Wheelbase: 117”
  • Tire Size: 275/50 R21

In terms of size, the Ascent is larger than the Toyota 4Runner and the Hyundai Santa Fe in every dimension. The Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer also come up short in every dimension except width. The Subaru Ascent promises to have a huge amount of interior room, based on its segment leading wheelbase, length and height.

The grille is bold and upright, the hood and the fenders bulge out. This is an SUV that asserts itself, and should be a strong entry in the segment.

Powered By An All-New Engine

Subaru has also announced that the Ascent will be powered by an all-new turbocharged, direct-injection engine. It will be similar in layout to the company’s other horizontally opposed powerplants. The engine size, the number of cylinders, and the horsepower rating have not been released. 

One possibility could be a turbocharged four-cylinder similar to the WRX’s 268-hp motor, or a six-cylinder similar to that used in the top-level Outback. With its larger size (and weight), the Ascent will likely need more than 200 horsepower to move with authority.

There Is Some Concept Vehicle Fantasy In The Ascent

Although the Ascent Concept’s exterior looks totally ready to roll off the production line, its interior has been dressed up with some elements that will not be available on the real-world Ascent. The seven-seat layout is confirmed for production, meaning there will be two captain’s chairs in the second row and three seats in the third row, just as in the Concept. But don’t expect to see the Ascent Concept’s exotic seats, covered front and back in stitched leather, with illuminated blue inserts on the sides of the headrests. Likewise for the leather-covered door panels and console. The rest of the interior looks production-ready.

This Concept Will Be On The Road Next Year

The Subaru Ascent SUV Concept is coming, and it will look pretty much identical to what you see here. It signals that Subaru is serious about dominating a part of the market it has never been able to get traction in. The other three-row SUVs should be afraid, very afraid….

About The Author

Stephen Fogel

Stephen follows the global automotive industry on a daily basis, including new model announcements, new technologies, sales trends, and the latest in "green" cars.