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Montreal 2018: Subaru Ascent out to Reconquer Lost Terrain

One of the most-visited models on display at the 2018 Montreal Auto Show this week is likely to be the all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent, which marks the return of the company to the three-row SUV segment, several years after it dry-docked its Tribeca. Offering seating for up to eight occupants, the Ascent is also the largest Subaru ever produced.

“This is a very special vehicle for Subaru and our customers, and very clearly showcases what we consider to be the top priorities for families shopping in this segment.”

- Yasushi Enami, chairman, president and CEO of Subaru Canada

10 new buyers for each one lost?
Clearly, consumers with large families do not lack for choice, which ranges from the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Mazda CX-9 to the new Volkswagen Atlas and a few others. Still, the Subaru Ascent stands apart thanks to the company’s renowned symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive system and its EyeSight suite of safety technologies.

EyeSight includes pre-collision braking and pre-collision brake assist, pre-collision throttle management, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and lane sway warning, lane keep assist and lead vehicle start alert.

At the auto show, one thing I was intent on trying in the Ascent was the mechanism that provides access to the third row of seats; I was happy to see that it is well-designed and easy to use. Elsewhere, the cabin includes six USB ports, 19 cup-holders, automatic tri-zone climate control and cargo capacity of up to 2,056 litres. Offered standard are heated front seats, which can be supplemented by available heated steering wheel and heated second-row seats.

No V6, but no complaints
In a bid to maximize fuel economy, Subaru is powering its new Ascent with a new 2.4L turbo engine bolted to a Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission (with 8-speed manual mode). While fuel consumption figures have not been released, we do know that the engine produces 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 and 4,800 RPM, giving it a towing capacity of up to 5,000 lbs – an unprecedented capability in a Subaru, and one that will please owners who need to tow a trailer or boat.

Subaru is in fact directly targeting those active consumers with its Ascent, and not merely Forester owners who want more space. Performance is further boosted by an active torque vectoring system and the X-Mode system with hill descent control function.

In comparison with rivals like the Explorer and the Traverse, the driving dynamics of the Ascent are designed to be more like that of a car, even with its generous ground clearance of 220 mm.

Assembled in Indiana in the United States, the 2019 Subaru Ascent will arrive at dealerships this summer. While we await pricing information, you can get more info on the Ascent SUV here.