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Subaru Outback vs Ascent

This is a blue Subaru Ascent on display at a car show.

When choosing the right car, it feels important to make the right decision as a car almost feels part of you. That’s how it is with the battle between the crossovers of the Subaru Outback vs. Ascent; which is the better choice? I had to conclude the two, so I did some digging to find out!

The two Subaru’s are similar in many fields like interior, interior space, and powertrain features. The most significant difference between the crossovers is that the Ascent comes with a third row of seats. To put it simply, the Ascent is the family option; the Outback is the more sporty option. 

Though they are both very similar in many places, there might be a slight difference that could matter for some people. For example, the Ascent comes with nineteen cup holders; if you ever feel like you need that, then Ascent is the way to go.

Outback vs. Ascent

This is a white Subaru Outback on display at a car show.

Subaru is well known for their great crossover SUVs with an all-wheel-drive base, giving urban drivers the possibility of going off-road for a great adventure. In the new line of vehicles, Subaru has come out with the Ascent, the most significant vehicle that the company has sold. The crossover Ascent with the third row of seats is precisely what fans of the forester like but upsized for a more prominent family.

The Outback is Subaru’s treasure, as it is the companies’ best-selling model to date. The Outback is categorized as an SUV; however, it takes after a station wagon’s more designed aspect. The Outback looks rugged and ready to go off-road with its chunky roof rack and blacked-out front trim.

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Looking at the two, side by side, you realize that the Ascent is like a sized up Outback, with an enormous body. With that larger body, the Ascent has a bigger wheelbase, meaning it drives even more comfortably on the road as the wheels have a more significant area to reduce vibration or bumps from being picked up.

With its bigger size and comes with a turbocharged engine at its standard level, the Ascent will cost you $5000 more than the Outback’s standard price. However, the standard version of the Outback doesn’t come with a turbocharged engine; the premium versions do, as you get the option. However, at trim to trim levels going up for both models, the Outback is cheaper if cost is a concern.

Size Difference

This is a look at the seating space of the Subaru Ascent backseat.

If you’re thinking of going off-road, you need a car that at least has an excellent ground clearance to do so. That’s why both the Outback and Ascent have a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, which means those big rocks won’t be a problem at all for them; they are great for that thick snow as well.

The Ascent is 76 inches wide, 196.8 inches long, and 71.6 inches high, making it a significant vehicle for someone looking for something more in the compact size category. The Outback is 73 inches wide, 191.3 inches long, and 66.1 inches high, making it applicable for those small spaces to squeeze through in the city.

Looking at the inside space of the two, the Outback can seat five people, while the Ascent can seat 8; however, even though the Ascent can seat more people, it doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. The Ascent’s third row of seats is better suited for kids than adults as the legroom space is small.

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With its broader and higher body, The Ascent allows for a much more comfy shoulder, head, and hip room space than the Outback. The Ascent gives 41.4 inches of headroom in the front, whereas the Outback only has 40.1 inches. The Ascent has three more inches of shoulder room and about 2 inches more hip room space than the smaller Outback.

The Outback beats the Ascent in legroom space, giving the front passengers 2 inches more than the Ascent and at the back having 1 inch more than the Ascent.

The Ascent has 86.5 cu-ft of cargo space compared to the Outback’s 75.7 cu-ft; this is if both back seats are folded down. However, if a person needs all of the seats, the Outback outshines the Ascent with a cargo space of 32.5 cu-ft and the Ascent with only 17.8cu-ft.

Engine Specs

This is a close look at the Subaru Outback engine.

The Ascent comes only with engine options: the turbocharged 2.4 liters, four-cylinder boxer engines that put out a comfortable 260 horsepower and 277 pound-foot of torque. The Ascent can tow quite a large number of weight for its vehicle class, capable of towing 5,000 lb.

The Outback comes with two engine options, one being the same as the Ascents, the turbocharged engine. The other is the standard engine, a naturally aspirated 2.5- liter four-cylinder boxer engine that creates 182 horsepower and 176 pound-foot of torque. If you want that turbocharged engine, you will have to pay more at the higher levels of the Outback.

Though the Outback and Ascent equipped with the same turbocharged engine produces the same amount of power, the Outback performs better because it is 800 pounds lighter than the Ascent. The lighter the vehicle, the less weight is holding it back, making it accelerate a lot faster and feel more responsive.

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The fuel economy for the base engine of the Outback is a lot more efficient than the turbocharged engine of the Ascent, doing 26 mpg around town and 33 mpg on the highway, compared to the Ascent that’s 23mpg in the city and 30 mpg on an open road. If you’re looking for a better fuel-efficient car, the standard Outback’s engine is the way to go.

Features

This is a close look at the front seat interior of the Subaru Ascent showcasing the dashboard.

The Outback and Ascent, both of Subaru’s brands, make the features different; they all come with the same interior system and high safety rates. The only difference is that the Ascent can make the second row of seat Captain seats that reduces the number of seats by one but loses that oddly uncomfortable middle piece.

On top of that, the Outback comes with more safety features, driver assistance technology, and surprisingly more airbags as well. It is also worth mentioning that the Outback has a higher quality infotainment system for its trim levels and better quality of premium leather upholstery.

Conclusion

This is a white Subaru Outback at a car show.

Overall, the Outback is better in its interior quality, better performance, and better fuel efficiency. The only thing that makes the Ascent stand out is that it has a third row of seats and slightly bigger cargo space.

The Outback is the better choice between the two, especially if you don’t need that third row of seats. However, if it is desirable, the Ascent is an excellent choice as a family-sized SUV. The Ascent will allow you to take your passengers anywhere; whether it’s on-road or off, they will be going on a trip in comfort.

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References:

Auto Guide: Subaru Ascent vs. Subaru Outback

CNET: Road Show: Subaru buyers guide: WRX, Forester, Outback, BRZ, which is right for you?