Production of the Subaru Ascent, the Japanese automaker’s first three-row SUV since it abandoned the Tribeca in 2014, officially got underway yesterday at the company’s plant in Lafayette, Indiana.
The Ascent is a highly anticipated model, particularly in the U.S. where large-format SUVs hold a significant part of the market. North of the border, the brand’s popularity should help the new large utility model find its place as well.
The model will come in 7-seat or 8-seat configuration, and consumers should be able to see it in the flesh at dealerships beginning in June or July. It will be powered by a 260-hp TDI engine working in conjunction with a CVT transmission. Standard equipment includes Subaru’s EyeSight drive-assist package, tri-zone climate control and heated front seats. Need we mention all-wheel drive?
In 2017, Subaru built 364,000 vehicles at its Indiana plant, the only Subaru factory located outside Japan. With the addition of the Ascent, Subaru estimates that number will rise to 400,000 vehicles assembled on American soil. The plant also produces Legacys and Outbacks.
Subaru hopes to increase its American sales to 680,000 units in 2018, which would represent a 5% increase over 2017. The Ascent will obviously play a big role in hitting that figure. Up to now in 2018, the company’s sales in the U.S. are up by 3.2%. If that trend holds, Subaru will have racked up a 10th straight year of growth in the land of Uncle Sam.
Here in Canada, meanwhile, the Japanese automaker sold 54,570 vehicles in 2017, which translates into 8.7% growth over 2016.
Producing the Ascent at the Indiana plant required a $140 million investment and the addition of 200 jobs.