2023 Subaru Ascent First Drive Review

It’s a brisk December morning in Prince Edward County, one of Ontario’s key viticultural areas.

Visible exhales in the air make it hard to see the supposedly mild climate that makes this place suitable for growing wine grapes. We arrive here to get a sampling of the 2023 Subaru Ascent, a new revision of the largest testament to the brand’s undying fandom. It’s great the seat heaters are already on when we plant ourselves inside.

Driving along the country roads, the only thing more abundant than hibernating grape vines were other Subaru drivers. If terroir is an important concept in oenophile circles to define the context of a wine, it’s probably fair to apply the same idea to a vehicle—even if cars aren’t grown from the dirt and the rain. We drive for a few hundred kilometers in the new Ascent to find out why there are so many Subarus in wine country. Maybe we will discover why a rugged three-row SUV might make the most sense.

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Kia Telluride vs Subaru Ascent Comparison

Kia Telluride vs Subaru Ascent Comparison

Going into this comparison, it almost didn’t seem fair.

It’s no secret that the Telluride has been a smash hit for Kia. The brand’s larger three-row has won awards right out of the gate, and folks are paying over list for used examples. The Telluride has immediately become one of the very best choices in the three-row crossover set.

The Subaru Ascent had its own time in the spotlight, roughly six months before the Telluride’s debut. A far cry from the maligned Tribeca before it, the Ascent leans into the modern Subaru values of pragmatic practicality and a learning curve as steep as playing Pong.

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Detailed Specs

Price / $33,895 - $48,195
Engine / 2.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder
Power / 260 hp
Torque / 277 lb-ft
Drivetrain / AWD
Transmission / CVT
Fuel Economy (city/hwy) / 19–20 mpg / 25–26 mpg
Cargo capacity / 17.8 cu ft

Our Final Verdict

Subaru Ascent

Performance 7.0
Features 7.0
Comfort 9.0
Quality and Styling 7.0
Value 9.0