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 is 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 in 2015, refreshed it for 2018, and won't introduce the next version until the summer of 2019 as a 2020 model, when it will ride on the new platform. 

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. 

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, such as a front view camera and NINETEEN cupholders!


 Outback Ascent
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

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,
.  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.

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).    
cubic feet:

seats down
cubic feet:

seats down

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


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.

cubic feet


cubic feet


Rear Legroom
Ascent has a little more, and doors open an astounding 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.
38 inches
39 inches

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

(3,000 pounds with
optional six cylinder engine)
 5,000 pounds

Crash Tests
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded its highest rating to both...  "Top Safety Pick Plus." 

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
175 horsepower

Continuously variable
automatic transmission:

city, 32 highway

2.4 liter turbo four cylinder
260 horsepower

  Continuously variable
automatic transmission:

20 city, 26 highway

Optional Engine
Outback's six cylinder really puts the "Sport" in Sport Utility Vehicle.  All Ascents have the same 2.4 liter mill. 
Optional 3.6 liter boxer
six cylinder

256 horsepower

Continuously variable 
auto transmission

20 city, 27 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




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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