The three-row 2023 Subaru Ascent SUV gets a slight refresh, and don’t worry, it’s kept all 19 of its cupholders. What our current favorite three-row midsize SUV gains is a slew of upgraded safety systems, more standard equipment, and as is the trend these days, a new dark-trimmed option—here dubbed the Onyx Edition—with more off-road drive modes and water-repellant seats for the adventurous types.
Subaru has made some subtle changes to the design of the Ascent this year, with a bigger, taller grille, new LED headlights, redesigned C-shaped taillights, and a tweaked lower front bumper with air ducts to improve aerodynamics under the car. The EyeSight Driver Assist Technology has also been updated, with smoother operation “under a greater range of conditions,” with a wider field of view, new software, an updated wide-angle camera, and a new electric brake booster, changes mimicked across the Subaru lineup this year in the similarly updated Legacy and Outback models.
On the Premium trim and up, the EyeSight system now adds Automatic Emergency Steering, which operates under 50 mph to help avoid low-speed impacts. There’s also a new Cabin Connect PA system that can override the rear speakers with a patch-in from an overhead console microphone up by the driver, but it’s tied to the Harman Kardon QuantumLogic surround sound system on Touring models, also available separately as an option on other trims.
Also new this year is the Onyx Edition, with exterior trim coated in a black finish, darker badging, and black 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Inside, the Onyx gets water-repellant seats with contrasting green stitching and a power moonroof, which is also standard on the Touring trim and optional on the Limited. Onyx, Limited and Touring trims also now get standard dual-function X-Mode with hill descent control and Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings for optimized all-wheel drive performance.
An available package upgrade for the Onyx includes the Harman Kardon sound system with Cabin Connect, 12-way power driver’s seat with cushion extension, 4-way power front passenger seat, second row sunshades, outboard heated seats, Surround View Monitoring, and a DriverFocus distraction mitigation system.
Standard Equipment and Other Trims
A 260-hp turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four engine is standard and linked to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with an eight-speed manual mode to simulate shifting, if the driver so desires, and standard all-wheel drive with 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Most models come with 18-inch wheels standard, rear vision camera with a new washer system, raised roof rails, and tri-zone climate control. Trailer Stability Assist is also standard, offering up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity.
Inside, the 2023 Ascent now comes standard with a 11.6 inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, 19 cupholders, and a seat belt reminder for all three rows of seating. It comes with a choice of 7 or 8 seats stretched across three rows, which when folded make way for up to 75.6 cubic feet of cargo space.
The 2023 Ascent is available in Base, Premium, Onyx Edition, Limited, and Touring trim levels. Blind-spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, privacy glass, 8-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, body-color heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and heated seats are all upgrades on the Premium trim.
The Limited comes with all that and more, including keyless entry with push-button start, heated steering wheel, heated second-row seating, a power rear tailgate, reverse automatic braking, DriverFocus, LED fog lights, chrome exterior accents, and upgrades to dark grey 20-inch wheels. Touring models get interior wood trim, leather upholstery, three-mode ventilated seating in the front, the Harmon Kardon sound system, rain-sensing wipers, power moonroof, a black grille, chrome door handles, and chrome side mirrors with integrated turn signals. The new model year hits dealerships this fall.
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