Is the 2022 Subaru Ascent a Good SUV? 4 Pros and 4 Cons

subaru-ascent-2022-11-2exterior-green-rear-angle-suv

Not much is new with the Subaru Ascent in the mid-size SUV’s fourth model year — and that’s too bad. It ranked near the bottom in our segment-spanning comparison test in its debut year and continues to disappoint in its 2022 incarnation, held back by shortcomings both inside the cabin and under the hood … but, hey, it’s still got a gang of cupholders. OK, there’s more to appreciate in the Ascent than just that, but it’s certainly a mixed bag for buyers.

Related: 2022 Subaru Ascent Review: Value Pricing, Real-World Problems

Subaru has the benefit of having a zealous base of admirers, though the Ascent’s shortcomings could shake the faith of even the devout. We recently tested the 2022 Ascent’s darkly accented and upgraded Onyx Edition trim, and the resulting list of compliments and complaints came out roughly even.

For our full take, be sure to check out Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays’ comprehensive review via the related link above. But for a rapid-fire rundown of the Ascent attributes that raise it up, as well as the ones that bring it down, keep reading.

Here are four things we like and four we don’t about the 2022 Subaru Ascent:

Things We Like

1. All-Wheel Drive for All

subaru-ascent-2022-04-2exterior-front-green-grille-suv2022 Subaru Ascent | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Standard all-wheel drive is kinda Subaru’s thing. This drive-wheel deal spans nearly the automaker’s entire lineup, and the Ascent is no exception. One less price-inflating box to check on the options menu.

2. It’s Easy to See

Subaru’s no slouch on sitelines, either. Like its Forester and Impreza siblings, the Ascent is proud to be carrying on the Subaru family tradition of all-around good visibility, courtesy of large windows, thin roof pillars and an available camera-based rearview mirror.

3. Crash-Test Cred

The Ascent earned the highest crashworthiness honor from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Top Safety Pick Plus award. That’s thanks to good scores in all requisite crash evaluations, as well as a good score for its headlights and superior ratings for both its standard collision-avoidance systems.

4. Low-Drama Driving

subaru-ascent-2022-07-2exterior-green-profile-suv2022 Subaru Ascent | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Ride and handling are pillowy and inoffensive, respectively. The Ascent’s soft ride is refreshingly family-friendly versus top competitors whether buyers opt for 18- or 20-inch wheels. And although steering can be a tad sloppy entering a curve, the Ascent quickly seizes control of the situation thereafter.

Things We Don’t

1. It’s in No Hurry

Don’t let the specs sheet fool ya. The turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine’s robust-sounding output — 260 horsepower and 277 pounds-feet of torque — is undermined by its continuously variable automatic transmission. Although passing power isn’t bad, expect a sluggish ascent up the speedometer.

2. Sorry, That’s Not an Option

subaru-ascent-2022-21-dashboard-front-seat-interior-steering-wheel-suv2022 Subaru Ascent | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

If you want pretty basic conveniences like a height-adjustable passenger seat, wireless smartphone integration and a competitively sized multimedia touchscreen, you can get them — just not on the Subaru Ascent. Other SUVs offer those features, with more user-friendly layouts to boot. Subaru, not so much.

3. Call Shotgun First

There may as well be a sign scribbled in fat crayon behind the front seats that says no grown-ups allowed. Adults in the second row might be resting their heads on their knees, uncomfortably elevated by the Ascent’s low second-row cushions. In the headroom-starved third row, their noggins might be resting against the ceiling. Keep out.

4. AWD Over MPG

You lose seconds off your life with that slow-accelerating CVT, but at least you get some extra gas mileage for your time investment … right? Wrong. Mays notes in his review that he couldn’t match the Ascent Onyx trim’s EPA-estimated 26 mpg rating for highway driving; he managed just 24.8 mpg over 385 miles of mostly highway driving with a model-appropriate family load. Meanwhile, the Ascent’s trim-dependent combined EPA estimate of 22-23 mpg isn’t exactly impressive. A front-wheel-drive option could boost efficiency.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

By cars.com

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