Mainstream crossover for a non-mainstream automaker. Subaru entered the three-row crossover space in 2019 with the Ascent. This model nicely blends the brand’s legendary ruggedness with family-friendly features, but there are some trade-offs in performance, interior noise, and features.

Find out below if the Ascent has enough to attract the mainstream buyer or if it’s tuned mostly for Subaru fans.

Spacious until you hit row three. Inside, the 2022 Subaru Ascent is plenty roomy for most families with about 39 inches of second-row legroom, a standard bench seat with room for three adults, and available captain’s chairs for additional comfort.

In the third row, though, things start falling apart. The Ascent offers just 31.7 inches of third-row legroom, coming up well short of the VW Atlas and Honda Pilot.

Endearing the Ascent to parents everywhere is its 13 cupholders. Yes, 13 of them. However, like most Subaru models, interior noise is slightly more noticeable in the Ascent than its competitors.

honda civic

Safety features abound, but fun tech is optional. The 2022 Ascent is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and includes all the standard safety equipment to back it up. These standard bits include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, active lane control, and a rear-seat reminder.

While the Ascent matches the competition with standard Android Auto and Apple Car Play, its 6.5-inch standard touchscreen left us desiring much more. The only competitor that’s close to the Ascent is the Chevy Traverse and its 7-inch touchscreen. The Pilot, Explorer, and Telluride all come standard with 8-inch touchscreens.

You can get an 8-inch touchscreen in the Ascent, but you must move into the Premium trim.

Standard all-wheel drive. Like nearly every Subaru not named BRZ, the Ascent comes standard with the brand’s legendary all-wheel-drive system. Plus, it boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

Where this Scoobie lags is its engine. Its standard 260-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine falls well behind the various V6 engines in most of its competitors, and even the 300-hp turbo four-pot in the Explorer.

On top of its lackluster power, this four-cylinder offers no significant fuel economy boost relative to the competition. The Ascent delivers just 21 miles per gallon city, 27 highway, and 23 combined. Plus, there’s no hybrid option for those seeking a greener option. Those seeking this option will find it in the Explorer Hybrid, which gets 23 mpg city, 26 highway, and 25 combined.

Final thoughts. Subaru has by far one of the most loyal fanbases in the automotive industry, but the Ascent transcends that group and hits the more mainstream with its roomy interior and allotment of cupholders. However, it does so without abandoning its Scoobie roots with plenty of ground clearance and a legendary all-wheel-drive system that can tackle nearly any condition.

That said, the Ascent’s third-row struggles with anyone larger than a small child. Plus, its puny standard touchscreen is dwarfed by all competitors, and its fuel economy is no tradeoff for its subpar horsepower.

Check prices for the 2022 Subaru Ascent »