Outback vs Ascent



Executive Summary

What is the difference between Outback and Ascent?  At a quick glance, you'll observe that the Ascent looks like a big Outback...but there's a lot more going on beneath the sheet metal. Both are considered mid-size, sport utility vehicles, but the Ascent is the Subaru flagship and considerably larger than the Outback.  Outback carries only five passengers, Ascent takes 7 or 8 depending on your middle-row selection. 

Ascent was all-new for for the 2019 model year and is built on Subaru's new "Global Platform," a modular chassis that offers superior crash absorption and handling agility. Subaru introduced the current version of the Outback for the 2020 model year and now it rides on the new frame. 

Ascent has the longer wheelbase (the distance between the axles), almost five inches.  Lengthening the distance between the axles provides an even smoother ride because the vehicle platform covers more square area and therefore bumps are less noticeable. The Outback weighs roughly 1,000 pounds less than the Ascent, so it handles more like a sports car than does the Ascent.
Both offer the all-weather prowess of a sport utility vehicle with the lower cost, higher fuel economy, better ride, and superior outward visibility of a car.  (They are both built on car platforms instead of truck frames). They boast many safety features, including full-time symmetrical all wheel drive (with no buttons to push).  

Comparing the same trim levels, Ascent costs about $6,000 more. However, Ascent comes with standard or optional equipment not offered on Outback including NINETEEN cupholders!



Ground clearance

is the same, at 8.7 inches, so both vehicles elude obstacles that snag mortal vehicles. These Subarus are just beastly in deep snow

Ascent is wider.
Ascent is seven inches longer.
Ascent is five and a half inches taller.
Outstanding Visibility

Both have a "command driving position" allowing you to see over traffic in front of you.

They also feature an ingenious window design that allows you to look past the outside mirrors. Ascent rides a little higher.

Dawg (and cargo) Space

You can fit a whole kennel in the Outback, including our Greeter, Blue. He likes all the room to take his buddies along (Pabst and Mabel), so you could say he prefers the waggin'. You'll be able to fit even more dogs in the Ascent.

35.5 cubic feet: seats up.

19.6 cubic feet: all seats up.

With the third row folded down, Ascent has comparable space to the Outback.

Outback goes toe-to-toe on cargo space, in part because Ascent has an additional row of seats taking up a little space. Two adult bicycles fit easily inside either vehicle, and six-footers can sleep comfortably in either one ("comfortable" being a relative term here, in comparison to a cold tent pitched in a bear-infested forest).

75.7 cubic feet:
seats down

Adult bike with kid's bike on top, wheels on, lying flat.

86.5 cubic feet:
seats down

Power Tailgate Option Optional on both. Watch our instructional video here.

Note the extra rod that actuates the hatch.

Total People Space Ascent is considerably larger inside. Notice how similar the interiors are.

109 cubic feet

153.5 cubic feet

Rear Legroom Both have a ton, and doors open 75 degrees for easy access. Ascent's rear doors are astoundingly wide--so big, in fact, that they would look at home on a limousine.

39 inches

39 inches

Price Comparably equipped, Ascent costs $6,000 more.

Outback models and prices

Ascent models and prices

Towing Capacity Outback can tow a small utility trailer but for a sailboat you'll need the Ascent.

2700 pounds
(3,500 pounds with optional turbo engine)

5,000 pounds

Crash Tests Both earn the highest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest "Top Safety Pick PLUS" ratings.

Outback test results

Ascent Test Results

Engines and Fuel Economy Both offer standard Boxer engines. Ascent is heavier and enjoys some extra oomph from a turbocharger.

2.5 liter four cylinder 182 horsepower

Continuously variable automatic transmission:

26 city, 33 highway

2.4 liter turbo four cylinder 260 horsepower

Continuously variable automatic transmission:

20 city, 26 highway

Optional Engine You can put the Ascent's turbo engine in the Outback, and because the Outback is about a thousand pounds lighter than the Ascent, it goes like a scalded cat and really puts the "Sport" in Sport Utility Vehicle. All Ascents have the same 2.4 liter mill.

Optional 2.4 liter boxerfour cylinder
256 horsepower
Continuously variable auto transmission

23 city, 30 highway

Typical Competitors Of course we don't think a Subaru has any competition. But the nice folks who buy cars here say that they looked at these vehicles before they bought at Planet. Click on any of the blue links for a dedicated comparison.

Rooftop Cargo Solutions Outback offers standard roof rails (the bars that run front to back) and integrated crossbars (the bars that run side to side). Rails are standard on all Ascents but crossbars are optional.

Dedicated Planet-exclusive resource pages with high-res galleries, videos, and more!

Outback Center

Ascent Center

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If you want to see a review of the Outback and the Ascent, a good comparison to decide which is better, then Subaru shoppers in Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy, and Braintree will love this information...and a great deal too!

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