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Subaru Ascent Reliability

Subaru Ascent Topics Covered in This Article


The Subaru Ascent made its first impression at the LA Auto Show in November of 2017. Arriving in U.S. showrooms by midyear as a 2018 model, this three row midsize, crossover SUV is the largest vehicle Subaru makes. The Subaru Ascent has room for up to eight passengers, premium features and four trim levels: the Ascent, Ascent Premium, Ascent Limited and the Ascent Touring. It was assumed that with the release of this new “expanded” Subaru buyers would finally be able to get exactly what they wanted in a midsize SUV and along with everything that they needed… but you know what they say when you “assume.”

Competition for the Subaru Ascent include the popular Kia Telluride, Chevy Traverse, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander and the iconic Ford Escape. The Subaru Ascent’s manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $32,294 putting it right in the middle of the pricing scale for midsize crossover SUVs. The Toyota Highlander was the winner in the most expensive category starting at $35,085. It was followed by the Ford Escape with an MSRP of $32,765 and the Honda Pilot at $32,550. The Kia Telluride has a suggested list price of $32,109 and the Honda Pilot starts at $32,550. But it should be noted that the Subaru Ascent pricing was for the standard 4 wheel drive model, while others were for small SUV 2 wheel drive units. The Ascent was also the only all wheel drive vehicle; most were front wheel drive and the Ford Explorer pricing was based on a read wheel drive model.

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Is Subaru Ascent a Good Caris the subaru ascent a good car

If you are shopping for a 3 row family hauler, the Subaru Ascent will check most – if not all of your boxes.

Offering some special features that no other 3 row SUV has – like 8.7 inches of ground clearance, steering responsive LED head lights, raised roof rails, EyeSight Driver Assist Technology and an X-Mode for off road excursions – the Ascent comes standard with all wheel drive and a sophisticated upgraded interior.

And, it can tow. Prior to the introduction of the Subaru Ascent, the heaviest payload a Subaru could tow was 3,500 pounds. You needed a Subaru Outback for that job.
The Ascent can tow more than the Outback and the Forester together. Top towing capacity of the Ascent is 5,000 pounds for the 2020 model.

Although it seems that the general car-buying public has yet to stumble across the Subaru Ascent, loyal Subaru fans traded in their Foresters and Outbacks for this new, larger vehicle, but overall it appears that the company failed to gain any new customers swayed away from other brands. However, Ascent owners have reported a high degree of satisfaction with their vehicle, giving the Subaru Ascent a 4 out of 5 points.

Subaru first came into the picture in 1917, starting out as the Nakajima Aircraft Company. The first Subaru car hit the marketing in 1958, but it took until 1968 for the Subaru to see a U.S. road. The Subaru of America division wasn’t established in the states until 1967.

And, contrary to popular belief, Toyota does not now officially own Subaru, yet it is playing a role in the Subaru future by sharing technologies and the two corporations are developing new generations of vehicles together.

So why aren’t things going better for the Subaru Ascent? It all comes down to reliability. Consumer Reports put the 2019 Subaru Ascent model on its 10 Least Reliable Cars list and the JD Powers report on reliability only gave the 2020 Subaru Ascent a 2.5 out of five possible points.

What Are Common Subaru Ascent Problems?

common subaru ascent problemsReliability has been a significant problem for the Ascent. Although it was recently announced that the Subaru Corporation had fixed previous transmission and engine troubles, the JD Powers predicted reliability report for the 2021 Ascent only scored a 79 out of 100 points. A 79 in this particular assessment is considered “average.”

Subaru has always been known for making reliable cars. But in August of 2018, the auto manufacturer recalled 293 vehicles that were thought to have poor spot welds. These aaulty welds were apparently so bad, and so vast, that Subaru didn’t even try to repair them, they instead provided auto owners with brand new vehicles.

Further problems were solidified when, according to a study from Consumer Reports, out of the 26 automakers in the market, Subaru dropped down to number 8 from the previous position of number 7th which they had held in previous years. The reason for the drop? The problems with the Subaru Ascent was pulling their score down.

While all new car models are often plagued with “bugs” when first starting out, the Subaru Ascent has the distinction of being the only Subaru model in their all-wheel-drive lineup with negative sales compared to the 2020 model year.

Consumer Reports went on to say, “the suspension (shocks/struts and steering linkage), the in-car electronics, including phone pairing and the radio not working, and the climate system, including the AC compressor and system leaks, also lowered its reliability score.”

Jumping on the bandwagon, the Car Complaints website offers that there were three annoying problems with the Subaru Ascent. The first was that if the tailgate was left open, it would drain the battery. Second, owners complained that the windshield cracked far too easily. And finally, the vehicle would fail to start for no apparent reason.

All in all, out of the very few model years that the Subaru Ascent has been around, there have been recalls stemming from structural, power train and exhaust system issues, as well as automatic transmission and fuel system problems. Although there have been few issues with transmission or engine problems with the 2020 Ascent models reported, just as your mom probably told you, once you get a bad reputation it’s hard to change people’s opinions of you.

Subaru Ascent Engine Problems

A defective PCV valve that could potentially cause total engine failure warranted a recall by Subaru for the 2019 Ascent.engine problems for subaru ascent

2020 Subaru Ascent Transmission Problems
Less than a week later, the 2019 model year Subaru Ascent also had a recall issued for transmission problems. But you should know, owners of 2020 Subaru Ascent models had far less problems with the transmissions than in previous model years.

Ascent owners did complain to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) that they were having shifting problems with their Ascents.

Shifting delays, jumping, grinding, shaking and a burning smell and/or whistling noise coming from the engine compartment were noted by many.

2020 Subaru Ascent CVT Problems

Subaru of America announced a problem with their CVT transmission saying that the hydraulic transmission sensor could inaccurately measure the pressure, and the Continually Variable Transmission (CVT) chain may slip. When the chain slips, there could be noise, vibration, hesitation and the illumination of a warning light.

Subaru Ascent Steering Problems

Reports came in from both customers and the NHTSA claiming that the Subaru Ascent has “loose steering.” This problem occurred at low mileage and has a severity rating of 7 out of a possible catastrophic 10. This particular problem with the Subaru Ascent’s steering made the car unsafe to drive by causing the steering wheel to shake violently and / or jerk spontaneously.

Subaru Ascent Maintenance Cost

Caredge.com claims that maintenance and repair costs for the Subaru Ascent will be nearly $2200 after 5 years on the road. That computes to $440 annually, which is low when compared to other vehicles in this cross over SUV class. This estimate includes normal wear and tear on the usual items along with preventative maintenance and other expected repairs.

At 10 years, the Ascent’s maintenance is estimated at $8,160, but that’s still $720 lower than the industry average for other popular SUV models. But, there’s more to this than meets the eye. There is a 24% chance that the Subaru Ascent will require a major repair during that time frame. This is over 2.5% worse than other vehicles within the same automobile segment.

Subaru Ascent Maintenance Schedule

The Subaru Ascent is described as a “robust” SUV and its said that it can stay on the road for up to 250,000 miles with proper maintenance.

Often the hardest parts of maintaining your automobile properly is knowing exactly when or why you need to take your car in for preventative maintenance servicing per the manufacturer’s guidelines. Loosely stated the schedule to maintain your Subaru Ascent is for a minor service at 3,000 miles or 3 months and 7,500 miles or 7.5 months. What is considered “intermediate” service should be performed at 15,000 miles or 15 months and again at 45,000 miles or 45 months. Major service starts at 30,000 miles or 30 months and is due again at 60,000 miles or 60 months.

Additionally, Subaru.com says that most of their models should have an oil change performed every 6,000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first.

Minor services include the inspection of transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid levels. It also includes inspection of the battery and a check on all lights.

Intermediate service is everything included in the minor service plus changing engine oil and engine oil filter, lubricating the chassis as needed, rotating and computer balancing all four wheels, inspection of belts, hoses and filters, along with steering and suspension components. Tire tread should be reviewed as well as the brake system. The exhaust system heat shields are also assessed.

Major service includes everything in the minor and intermediate categories plus replacing the PCV valve, draining the refilling the transmission fluid along with the front and rear differential fluids. This service interval includes inspection of the fuel system including the tank and lines plus a cooling system assessment. The engine air filter will be replaced at this time, as well.

How to Find The Best Price on a Subaru Ascent?

The base model 2022 Subaru Ascent has a starting MSRP from $32,295. One step up is the Subaru Ascent Premium listing from $34.795 for the 7 seat configuration and $36,244 for the 8 seat version.

New for the 2022 model year, a new trim level is available for the Subaru Ascent. The Onyx edition is equipped with today’s popular black finish exterior elements, including black badging and dark alloy wheels. The MSRP on the Subaru Ascent Onyx Edition starts at $37,995.

The Limited trim level on the Subaru Ascent has a starting MSRP of $39,595 and the
top-of-the-line 2022 Subaru Ascent Touring model has a starting price of $45,445.

Those interested in a used Subaru Ascent should know this; on average, the Subaru Ascent will depreciate 40% after 5 years. This is based on a vehicle in good condition, averaging 12,000 miles per year. It also assumes an average selling price of around $41,000 when the vehicle was new.

From the base model Ascent, the trim levels, features – and cost – rises with each upgrade. The list starting from the entry level vehicle goes like this: The Subaru Ascent, the Subaru Ascent Premium, the Subaru Ascent Limited and the Subaru Ascent Touring model.

Subaru Ascent Limited vs Touring

If you are purchasing a 2020 Subaru Ascent, it’s hard to go wrong when picking trim levels. Even the base model Ascent is impressive with its generous standard features like all wheel drive, smartphone integration, comfortable seating and available upgrades.

The top two Subaru Ascent trim packages; the Ascent Limited and the Ascent Touring trim packages add some nice bells and whistles across the board, but many consumers do not agree that those added features are worth the additional cost.

Subaru Ascent Premium vs Limited

Confusing to most potential Subaru customers, the Ascent’s Premium package is not at the top-of-the-trim ladder. That honor is held by the Ascent Touring trim package. In fact, the Premium trim package is not even close to the top, the Premium trim package is just above the base level Subaru Ascent.

The middle trim levels of the Subaru midsize crossover SUV, are the Ascent Premium and the Ascent Limited. Each have different key features you will want to research and remember if you are researching to buy a Subaru. Things you’ll want to know include: You will get added towing capacity once you hit the Premium trim level package. The Premium package offers only 8-way power adjustable drivers seat, while the Limited trim package has 10-way driver seat adjustability. The Subaru Ascent’s Premium package offers cloth upholstery and a leather wrapped steering wheel, while the Limited trim package will also get you leather trimmed upholstery. The Subaru Limited trim package will also give you a heated steering wheel, power rear tail gate, keyless access, reverse automatic braking, LED steering responsive headlights and 4-way power passenger seating.

But, at the end of the day, based on sales numbers it appears that the Premium trim package – and its upgraded towing capacity – offers the most bang for your Subaru buck.

Forester vs Ascent

But what about other Subaru models? First you need to know that you’re comparing a mid-size SUV with a compact when you’re contrasting the Subaru Forester with the Subaru Ascent. Both are built on car platforms, not truck frames. Both offer good fuel economy, relatively low cost, all weather driving capabilities, superior safety features and a good looking exterior. The fact is that the Subaru Ascent looks just like a big Forester!

The Forester can only seat 5, while the Ascent can take 7 or 8 passengers (depending on your third row configuration) on your next adventure. The Ascent is actually 15 whole inches longer than the Forester. That extra length equates into a smoother ride. Additionally, the Ascent is over 4 inches wider and 3 inches taller. And, even though the Subaru Forester is much shorter in overall length, it has a surprising amount of leg and knee room.

The Subaru Forester and the Subaru Ascent both offer a “command driving position”. This feature allows you to see over traffic that’s in front of your.

Both the Forester and the Ascent earned the IIHS “Top Safety Pick” ratings for their automobile class. They both have Subaru’s Eyesight System that includes pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection and a lane departure warning system. They Subaru models also both have the newest Subaru safety features: rear cross traffic alert and steering responsive headlights.

Both vehicles have 8.7 inches of ground clearance. And, both have a power tailgate option. Standard rooftop cargo rails come on both the Forester and the Ascent.

The Forester offers a one piece moonroof, while the Ascent’s moonroof is larger, but only the first of its 2 panels actually slides and tilts.

But the Forester has its special perks, as well. With the additional weight and length of the Ascent, if you’re looking for agility you’ll want to choose the smaller Subaru Forester.

Both the Subaru Forester and the Subaru Ascent run on regular unleaded fuel, but because of it’s small size and outstanding fuel economy, even with the smaller gas tank, the Forester can go farther on one tank of gas. The Ascent’s tank is 19.3 gallons and can travel 501 miles, and the Forester’s tank is 15.9 gallons but can travel 547 miles.

Still need a little push to decide on which Subaru will suit you best? This little detail may do it; the Subaru Ascent costs about $8000 more than the Subaru Forester. However, the Ascent does come with features not even offered in the Forester. The Subaru Ascent has a front view camera, third row seating and a turbocharged engine…not to mention its 19 (!) well-placed cup holders.

What is The Best Year for the Subaru Ascent?

Based on data compiled from carcomplaints.com and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the best year for the Subaru Ascent is the 2021 model year. On cars.com, the Ascent 2021 model received 4.7 out of a total of 5 stars.

Worst Year for the Subaru Ascent
If you have been paying attention at all, you already know that the worst year for the Subaru Ascent is the 2019 model year. The Subaru Ascent was all-new for 2019, and this particular model year was the only year that experienced those excessive transmission and engine problems. There have been no issues with the 2020 or 2021 Subaru Ascent models reported, and it looks like the automaker has corrected the problems of the past.

Subaru Ascent Summary

The 2021 Subaru Ascent offers plenty of value for its $32,295 base price. You’ll get a 260-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that is more than equipped to power this 4,600 pound SUV.

New for the 2021 model year, steering-responsive LED headlights with automatic high beams were made standard on all trim levels. Previously this safety option was standard on only the Limited and Touring trim models. The adaptive cruise control was updated, with lane “centering” assist instead of the previous lane “keep” assist. New self registering TPMS sensors were made standard as well as the second and third row seats receiving seat-belt reminders.

The Subaru Ascent appears to now have just one drawback: it has lackluster fuel economy when compared to its peers. The Subaru Ascent’s 21 city / 27 highway mpg is no match for others in the same car category; for example, the Ford Escape offers 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

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