2022 Subaru Ascent review: Maestro of mainstream

The Subaru Ascent is not necessarily beautiful, but it certainly is useful.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Subaros are rarely the best in their segment. Competing vehicles tend to look better, offer more functionality, and have better interiors. But damn if these practical Japanese cars and crossovers aren’t always a solid choice, easy advice thanks to standard all-wheel drive and exemplary crash test scores. For drivers who need a practical three-row SUV, the 2022 Ascent perfectly embodies the Subaru brand.

Like it

  • Four-wheel drive as standard
  • Stellar safety ratings
  • Bold acceleration

I do not like

  • Spastic assistance for lane maintenance
  • Meh quality of the interior
  • Not great to drive


The Onyx Edition trim is new for 2022, falling right in the middle of the Ascent’s five-trim lineup. Spicing things up, this variant comes with a variety of visual enhancements including a tinted grille, black window trims, black badges, and black mirror caps. The vehicle rolls on 20-inch wheels that are treated with – you guessed it – a black finish. Inside, the carpeted floor mats feature special logos and there are black interior accents.

The Onyx Edition Ascent come standard with LED fog and fog lights, auto dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry with push button start, electric tailgate and heated steering wheel. They are also equipped with tri-zone climate control and USB ports in all three rows. And if you’re really thirsty, 19 cup and bottle holders are included at no extra cost.

A no-frills deal

The interior of the Onyx Edition Ascent is honest and practical, but if you are looking for frills you will want to look elsewhere. The dashboard design is sturdy (if a little busy), and the nicely textured soft plastics are freely employed throughout the cabin. Perforated materials and contrast stitching help keep things from looking too austere.

But not everything is worthy of praise. Some of the hardware buttons for the infotainment system feel low-cost, and there’s a hodgepodge of chrome and painted silver accents scattered throughout. Arguably, though, the worst part of the Onyx Edition’s interior is the black plastic trim on the dashboard and doors. Shiny and embossed with a mesh texture, it looks ugly and feels worse, making a “zizz-zizz” sound when you run your nails back and forth. This Ascent comes standard with StarTex synthetic coating, which is water repellent and dirt resistant. It doesn’t look anywhere near as good as quality leather, but it should be easy to clean and withstand years of abuse, important considerations in a family hauler.

Simple, honest, sane … these are three words that accurately describe the interior of Ascent.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The entry-level Ascent comes with a 6.5-inch infotainment display, but all other versions feature an 8-inch touchscreen. Subaru’s Starlink media array isn’t going to win any beauty contests and it’s certainly not the best system available today, but it’s easy to use and responsive enough. However, integrated navigation is optional in the Onyx edition Apple CarPlay And Android Auto they are standard across the entire model range.

The Ascent scores highly for passenger comfort. The front bucket seats are ergonomically friendly and there’s plenty of room in the second-row captain’s chairs, which adjust back and forth and flip and slide for easy third-row access. That most aft bench seat is a little tight on headroom (although no worse than in rival vehicles), but it’s still comfortable enough because the bottom cushion is a good height off the floor, so your knees are not at all. chin height when you sit back there. I also love the little handles on the top of the second row backrests. They make access to the third row a little easier.

The Onyx edition is offered in a seven-passenger configuration, although the Ascent can accommodate up to eight people. When it’s time to haul cargo, this vehicle needs 17.8 cubic feet of space with the third-row seat up and 86.5 with both rear rows folded, figures that are in step with competing models.

Punching above its weight

Only one transmission is offered in the Ascent. Providing the hustle and bustle is a 2.4-liter four-turbo boxer that is both smooth and unobtrusive. This engine develops respectable if not surprising power of 260 horsepower and 277 foot-pounds of torque. These figures are in line with the heat other three-row SUVs are doing these days. The Honda rider and Toyota Highlander, for example, both have a little more power, but this big bad Subie comes with a little more twist. Unless you count i Avoid Durango, Ford’s Explorer is almost the only rival with a clear advantage, its available 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 easily outperforms the competition, especially in the ST trim.

This turbocharged four-boxer is smooth and surprisingly powerful.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The engine of the Ascent is mated exclusively to a continuously variable transmission, which provides eight simulated gears when shifted manually. This unit does an admirable job providing excellent performance and good fuel economy. Thanks to abundant torque and favorable shifting, this SUV practically jumps off the line when you hit the accelerator. This taste also extends to higher speeds. No, the Ascesa is not a fast sports car, but its performance is strong. However, I would like the “change” to be a little more fluid. This is an odd complaint for a CVT since they actually, you know, they don’t shift, but sometimes this transmission feels clunky, shaking slightly at lower speeds.

Rounding out the Ascent’s powertrain is standard all-wheel drive, which is completely transparent, at least in dry summer conditions. This system would be a godsend in winter or on wet roads, but it should also help make this SUV a stable towing platform. All in all, the Ascent is rated to drag up to 5,000 pounds, a figure that’s in line with the competition.

Overall, the mechanics of the Ascent should bring you 20 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway. Together, the Ascent is rated at 22mpg, a figure I managed to beat without much effort. According to the onboard computer, the Onyx Edition model I’m testing is returning an impressive 23.5mpg. Curiously, according to the EPA, lower trim climbs are slightly more efficient than higher-end models.

Get competitive amounts of cargo space in this Subaru.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Refined and responsive, the Ascent’s powertrain is a winner, but the vehicle’s other dynamics could be improved. My main gripe is the steering, which is loose and inaccurate, too light in the center and overly boosted. I see, nobody buys a three-row SUV for canyon carving, but competing vehicles offer more precise steering and feel more agile than the Ascent.

The ride quality of this SUV is refined, neither stiff enough to hit bumps nor too soft to wallow like a pig when pushed. The structure appears to be carved from a steel billet and is completely inflexible, with no tremors or jolts when driving on bumpy roads.

Security Officer

This solid foundation helps deliver excellent crash performance, an important consideration for any family-oriented vehicle. This Subaru gets a Top Safety Pick Plus score from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the highest score the smash-’em-up organization awards. The vehicle received “good” crash test scores across the board, features excellent crash prevention technology, has easy-to-use child seat anchors and bright LED headlights. “

The Subaru Ascent 2022 is an all-round three-row SUV.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The automaker’s EyeSight suite of driving aids is standard across the Ascent range. This includes things like lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking. Lane centering is also grouped, although it’s far from the best available today, constantly beeping when road signs end or if you turn past a certain point on a bend. This feature also sometimes pulls awkwardly behind the wheel, paradoxically making driving more difficult. Fortunately, lane centering is easy to turn off. Automatic high beams are included at no extra cost and all models except the basic version feature blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warning.

In the midst of it

This 2022 Subaru Ascent Onyx Edition SUV costs an eminently reasonable $ 41,320, including $ 1,125 in destination tax, a total that’s exactly in line with the new vehicle’s average transaction price these days. That figure is enhanced by a $ 2,200 options package, which includes a panoramic sunroof, cargo area cover, and adds integrated navigation to the Starlink infotainment system. The Ascent is not only a spacious, comfortable and incredibly safe three-row SUV, it is also a strong value.

Although I’d rather have a Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride or Honda rider, which are more exclusive and better to drive, I cannot fault anyone for buying a Subaru Ascent. This family truck is an eminently logical choice, in the middle of the three-row SUV segment, competing on equal terms with rivals such as the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer e Chevy Traverse.

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