Connect with us

Subaru Ascent Onyx Edition Limited – ALL SUBARU – FOR ALL THE FAMILY

Car Reviews

Subaru Ascent Onyx Edition Limited – ALL SUBARU – FOR ALL THE FAMILY

Subaru Ascent Onyx Edition Limited


I’ve an onyx chess set, off-white and dark bronze, though many people first associate onyx with black. So does Subaru, hitting their Ascent Onyx Editions with enough black trim for a rapper’s G-Wagen, including aptly named “crystal black silica” on the grille, mirrors and spoiler. 

And inside, lime green stitching for highlights.

Fortunately, that’s the least Subaru thing about the Ascent.

Every Ascent has three-row seating, a turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, 11.6-inch portrait screen, driver’s knee airbag and safety features such as adaptive cruise control with lane centering, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist. Only the entry-level version does not have blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.

In this Onyx Limited the driver’s seat and its thigh extension reminds of Germanic hardware, plenty comfortable and supportive short haul or long for a wide range of sizes. Second-row captains chairs are also legit, including infinitely variable armrest angle, while we’ll call the third row’s comfort limit about 5’8”—this is a three-row for kids to sit in back when grandparents visit, not for routinely carrying six taller adults. As is often the case, third-row access is better with the two-person second row than with the bench seat.

Maximum cargo space is slightly behind class leaders, so if you pack light like my relatives, perhaps get a roof pod if you don’t have a tent up there (the static roof rail limit is 700 pounds so that tent’s a realistic proposition). Save for the aforementioned green tailoring, the cabin is generally dark materials so the big glass roof panel and Subaru’s traditional low cowl cut claustrophobia. 

If the variety of storage bins and obligatory 19 cupholders aren’t enough, you need to consult a de-cluttering service. And just to put a point on utility there is dedicated underfloor storage for the cargo cover. I’d prefer it if the screen response was a bit quicker and, not unique to Subaru, the touchscreen offered 100% function-in-motion anytime the passenger seat is occupied.

Finishes and fit are mission appropriate, and Ascent comes across skewing toward the value end of the segment. Three-row crossovers with this level of equipment—third-row driver amplification, full suite of safety assistants, surround-view cameras, panoramic moonroof, rear side sunshades, Harman Kardon surround sound, “water resistant” (read dog-friendly) upholstery, heated steering wheel and a bunch more for $48,000—are a bit rare. 

Think I’m nuts implying $48,000 a good value? That’s just $750 more than the average new-car transaction price. I think I’m in a good position to argue this Ascent is better than the average new car…and statistics suggest ownership costs over time are also quite reasonable.

Ascent’s engine configuration of turbocharged flat-four is shared with Porsche, the Subaru using regular unleaded and favoring torque over horsepower—you won’t get a 300-hp V-6 here but you’ll have the grunt at low revs handy for hauling around large boxes, and it won’t run out of breath at altitude. A continuously variable automatic prioritizes fuel economy, the powertrain for the most part operating quietly in the background, and when you need foot-to-the-floor performance it gets louder but not coarse like many others. It’s rated to tow 5000 pounds and I’ve no doubt it reliably would, but passing performance will be marginal and I believe I’d stick to a ton of pop-up or watercraft.

I matched EPA city ratings with the car 70% loaded, while exceeding highway ratings. Note the 20-inch wheels on Onyx and others penalize fuel economy 4-5% so you might see if the dealer wants to swap some “lower trim” wheels for better ride, economy and off-highway benefits.

And the Ascent is ready for that, with good ground clearance, X-mode driving assistance, very few vulnerable bits underneath and a spare tire (temporary use, but better than nothing). On proper winter tires this should outperform many vehicles from brands that haven’t been all-wheel drive for half a century.

An Ascent rolls down the pavement with a stable ride, competent handling and no surprises. While not a sports car like Subaru’s BRZ or sport sedan like the company’s WRX, the driver is kept in the loop and it’s never sloppy. The only control I’d label a minor hiccup is a slightly touchy accelerator pedal for getting Goldilocks power. Your editor will tell you I might be the only one to notice. (And yes, Greg is the only one to notice – your editor.)

The Onyx Limited Ascent is near the top of the model lineup and arguably one of the better value plays in that lineup, but any Ascent should get the three-row job done, rain or shine, for many years to come.

Mr. Whale's been breaking parts for 45 years and writing about it for 30. An award-winning writer, he's served as Technical Editor on several major magazines, been published in more than 40 outlets, and served as driving instructor and motoring book judge. He's a member of the Motor Press Guild, Texas Auto Writers Association, and if you say "It's OK, I'm a racer" to him he'll run to the nearest large body of water.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Car Reviews

Looking for local events?
Check out our Event Calendar!

epidemic sound affiliate link

Soundtrack like a pro, without breaking the bank.

To Top