How successful will the Subaru Ascent be? [w/ poll]

The new Subaru Ascent may well be one of the most overlooked debuts from the LA Auto show at the end of November. The reason for this is not hard to find – to many people it is yet another predictable entry into the mid-sized SUV segment, which predictably looks like an inflated Subaru Forester or Outback, with little of the flourish of the Viziv-7 concept that preceded it remaining. But is it right to dismiss the new Subaru as another also-ran?

Subaru as the US knows it and loves it

There are two market facts that shaped the Ascent: the failure of Subaru’s previous attempt at a mid-sized crossover, the Tribeca (figures), and the stellar growth of the brand in recent years (figures). The Tribeca was not a bad car, objectively speaking, but it was hampered by an odd shape, mediocre spaciousness and the ugliest front in its class. Having learnt from that lesson, Subaru in recent years has been building and selling, with great success, cars that tread a different path – middle-of-the-road styling with little to set them apart, class-average dimensions, and importantly a focus on safety and practicality. It’s this kind of thinking that gave birth to the Ascent, and unless the market changes overnight, this suggests the new model should be received warmly.

The appeal is under the skin

Brands like Toyota have for years proven that most consumers look beyond a car’s looks at what is inside – practicality, ease-of-use and reliability. To that end Subaru has focussed a lot of its energy under the skin of the Ascent, and produced what’s promising to be one of the most practical cars in the segment. Yes, the headline that the model sports 19 separate cupholders is a bit goofy, but it just underlines the fact that the Ascent is one of the biggest models in the segment. Measuring 196.8inches (5 meters) in length, it is less than two inches shorter than the massive VW Atlas, just barely shorter than the segment-leading Ford Explorer, and much longer than the Toyota Highlander. As a result, it can offer as standard seating for 8, a novelty in a segment where most cars are offered either as 5- or 7-seaters. What’s more, it is powered by a newly-developed 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo engine, with Subaru for once keeping up with the drivetrain trend towards smaller, turbocharged engines.

So, will it succeed?

Given the success of the Subaru brand in the US in recent years, and how the Ascent builds on the same formula, it’s hard not to conclude that the model will sell well. It is unlikely to get close to the top of the segment (no Subaru model was in the Top 5 of its segment in Q3’17), but should sell better than stragglers such as Dodge Durango, Nissan Pathfinder and Kia Sorento. After all, the buying public has been clamoring for a good seven-seat Subaru for a long time, and that is big enough to handle a big family, but one which does not look quite as massive as its competitors. 

Let us know what you think in the comments and poll below:

How well will the Subaru Ascent do in 2018?

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  1. You’d think designers literally have more space to work with when drawing a SUV of this size, but even for a no-nonsense brand like Subaru, the Ascent is very anonymous. It’ll sell though, because Americans adore Subaru.

  2. I love these big SUV’s and I am a fan of the Subaru brand. To me it still retains a certain “je ne sais quois” about it, retaining all wheel drive and boxer engines while everyone else is following the trends. And I’m glad it succeeds while others like Saab with it aero designs, and Lancia and Rover with their old school but classy models have failed. So I’m really hoping it will be a massive success without steeling too many sales from the Outback, maybe giving enough money for Subaru to invest in more adventurous designs and in neglected markets like the European. I sure would love to own one of these, with an LPG conversion for economic reasons of course…!

    1. Being an associate at SIA (Subaru of Indiana Automotive, where the Ascent is being built), Im hopeful and confident that will sell. I walk past the prototype almost every day and it is a GORGEOUS vehicle. Im a little sketchy about a 4 cylinder in a SUV of this size but nearly all manufacturers are going for fuel economy these days. Everyone needs to buy one and give me some overtime.

  3. I don’t think Subaru has capacity for over 100k units in Indiana. Plus it won’t launch at full volume until 2Q. So 8k per month for 9-10 months does not reach 100k.

    1. Janet, you are right about that. We cant build 100k of these at SIA. It will be on the same line as the Legacy and most of the Outbacks that we make (Outbacks are made on both lines). The forecast is 60k for the first year. If sales are that good, Japan will have to pick up the slack until we can finish our next expansion, which is inevitable, as there is talk of a new full size truck being built at SIA in the future

  4. This looks very American and very un-Subaru.

    It looks nothing like the Forester, Outback and Levorg. This is a tank!

    1. Really? The rear of this car look different enough but I am struggling to find the difference between this and the outback, besides the fog lights, they have nearly identical front ends.

    2. Aw, I thought the Tribeca looked pretty good after the midlife facelift. If it had begun — rather than left — production in 2013, it would have been a hit.

      1. At SIA, we refer to the Tribeca as the Tritanic. We are all hopeful that we learned from that mistake and that the Ascent is huge success

  5. First, we need to factor in the price. The Tribeca had that handicap along with the questionable styling. Next, power to weight and finally, will the CVT work with the new mill and the millstone it has to power? It should be quite interesting under the hood. The flat four sits so low, and the front end looks so massive, maybe the spare ( as in days of yore ) and a few cubic feet of storage reside under the hood.

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