After flopping pretty hard with the Tribeca, nobody blamed Subaru for taking a little time off. Its replacement, however, has quickly proven to be the right three-row SUV at the right time. After about a year of being on sale, the Ascent's sales numbers have already surpassed the Tribeca's -- across its entire lifecycle.
It makes sense, then, that Subaru wouldn't mess with success for the second model year. Save for the addition of some peace-of-mind technology, the 2020 Subaru Ascent enters its second model year largely unchanged.
Homogeny is the name of Subaru's powertrain game. Every Ascent makes do with the same 2.4-liter flat-4 gas engine, putting out 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Every Ascent is the same all the way down, including the standard continuously variable transmission (with eight simulated gears) and all-wheel drive.
However, because higher trims get more equipment, fuel economy does differ between variants. The base and Premium trims are EPA-rated at 21 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway, while Limited and Touring trims see those numbers drop to 20 and 26, respectively. All four trims only require regular unleaded gas.
The base model is also limited to just 2,000 pounds of towing capacity, while all other trims can haul up to 5,000 pounds.
The Ascent is a three-row SUV, with seating for up to eight. The SUV's base and Premium trims can fit eight thanks to a second-row bench seat, which becomes optional on Limited and isn't available at all on the Touring trim. In lieu of a second-row bench, Premium and Limited trims can swap in a pair of captain's chairs, which are standard on the Ascent Touring.
The base Ascent is the only trim that comes standard with normal cloth seating. Ascent Premium variants move up to a stain-resistant cloth, while the top two trims swap out the cloth for leather-appointed upholstery. The trim changes, too, from an ivory carbon-fiber to leather accents and woodgrain-style pieces.
Since the Ascent is a family vehicle, space to put stuff is important, so it's good to know that Subaru's largest SUV comes standard with 19 cupholders. The cargo area has underfloor storage, and the trunk is pretty sizable at 47.5 cubic feet behind the second row, expanding to 86.5 cubic feet with the second row folded down. Both dimensions lose 0.5 cubic feet when a moonroof is added to the equation, though.
The sole update for the Ascent's 2020 model year is the addition of a rear-seat reminder system. After finishing a trip, if the car detected an open rear door at any point, it will alert the user with a chime and a warning in the instrument panel to check the rear seats for any occupants or leftover items. Not only will it keep kids or dogs from being left in a hot car, but the system should also help prevent forgotten leftovers from stinking up the joint.
The base 2020 Ascent relies on a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Satellite radio and HD Radio are also standard. Every other trim picks up a larger, 8-inch screen, with embedded navigation as an option (except on the top-tier Touring, where it's standard). A 6-speaker audio system is standard on every trim save for Touring, which rocks a 14-speaker Harman Kardon setup. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot with an AT&T data connection is standard on every trim except for the base.
Safety is also democratized across the Ascent lineup. All four trims receive EyeSight, Subaru's suite of active and passive driver aids that includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. The top three trims also add blind spot monitoring, while the top two trims add automatic high beams and reverse automatic braking into the mix, as well. A backup camera is standard, but the Touring variant also gets a 180-degree front-view camera.
The 2020 Subaru Ascent starts at $33,005, including the mandatory destination charge, which is the same price as the 2019 model. Standard equipment includes seating for eight and the aforementioned in-car tech, in addition to 18-inch alloy wheels, cloth seats, roof rails, a manual driver's seat and three-zone automatic climate control. There are no options available.
The Ascent Premium starts at $35,405 and adds stain-resistant cloth, the Wi-Fi hotspot, body-color side mirrors, windshield wiper de-icers, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and additional USB ports. Two options packages are on offer here. A $1,460 package adds a power rear tailgate, keyless access, reverse automatic braking and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A $4,260 package adds everything from the other package, in addition to 20-inch wheels, a panoramic moonroof and embedded navigation.
The $40,355 Ascent Limited picks up leather-trimmed upholstery, 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, a power passenger seat, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a power rear tailgate and third-row USB ports. One options package is available: $2,950 will net you a panoramic moonroof, embedded navigation and the Harman Kardon audio system.
At the top of the lineup is the $46,055 Ascent Touring, which adds all the aforementioned equipment as standard, in addition to ventilated seats, a 120-volt power outlet and a forward-facing camera. There are no options here, since it's fully loaded.
The 2020 Subaru Ascent is now on sale nationwide.