2024 Subaru Ascent Limited

For better or worse, the Ascent is missing that spunky character you'd find in other Subaru models
For better or worse, the Ascent is missing that spunky character you'd find in other Subaru models

by Imran Salam | April 9, 2024


Subaru is a spunky little car company, having staked their reputation on their rally heritage and all-wheel-drive. It’s a good reputation to have, with the WRX and (dearly departed) STI models having a huge cult following, the Crosstrek and Forester having developed its own fan base among the outdoorsy crowd, and the BRZ — despite being rear-wheel-drive — becoming an unlikely champion of lightweight and budget-friendly sports cars. They’ve garnered a following for being just different enough to elicit some excitement, but with all that being said, the 2024 Subaru Ascent Limited is unlikely to garner a similar following to any of Subaru’s other models.

This doesn’t mean the Ascent is bad, it’s just sort of bland. It manages to look quintessentially Subaru but also very nondescript at the same time — I see some Toyota Highlander in there — to the point where nothing about the exterior is particularly striking. Perhaps that’s the point here; not everybody wants to stand out, and that’s OK. A dark grey Subaru Ascent will help you do just that. Even the 20-inch wheels look as tame as they come. If you’ve been a Subaru fan and have a growing family, I’m sure the Ascent will feel right at home for you. And if you’re upgrading from an older minivan and want something just a little bit cooler, then the Ascent fits the bill.

The Limited trim is clad in leather throughout and has second row captain’s chairs that are comfy enough for long road trips, despite feeling a little thin. The third row is best used for small children, as the raised floor makes legroom awkward for adults, but it does fold flat to give you access to a usable 1,232 litres of space behind the second row. The rest of the interior is a mixture of black plastics, with no ambient lighting to help brighten things up at night.

Technology isn’t Subaru’s strong suit, despite some heavy marketing of their Starlink infotainment system. The vertically oriented 11.6-inch display looks low-res in today’s world, with soft graphics and a simple user interface they would feel at home on a child’s tablet. The plus here is that the icons are all large and easy to find. I especially appreciated the fact that although the climate controls are digital, they remain on-screen at all times, making them easy to access. Unfortunately, some lag in the system has you pressing buttons a couple times before something happens. The gauge cluster is the typical analog cluster found in many other Subaru modelss with a small digital display in the middle. It’s clean and easy to use, but looks severely outdated among fresh competitors like the Toyota Grand Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas.

It’s nice that there are several USB ports throughout the cabin, but the omission of a wireless charging pad feels dated when virtually everything else on the market includes one these days. The Harman Kardon audio system is surprisingly good, though, and wireless Android auto and Apple CarPlay are a welcome addition — though without wireless charging, you’ll still have to plug in your phone lest your phone’s battery is drained. But are some other confusing tech choices inside the Ascent. This Limited trim features Subaru’s EyeSight suite of active driver assists, like adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and even a driver monitoring system that alerts you when it thinks you aren’t paying attention, but then Subaru omits something as simple as rain-sensing windshield wipers. It’s a weird mix of features and omissions; up-to-date and out-of-date tech that makes the Ascent feel more 2014 than 2024.

When you get moving, things marginally improve. Subaru’s 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer engine produces 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque — just enough to keep you satisfied, but the noise it makes is another story. Paired with the CVT, the way the powertrain holds revs under heavy acceleration is reminiscent of the early days of CVTs.

Beyond the engine, overall ride quality is solid, tuned on the softer side with no sporting intent. It swallows up larger bumps well, but smaller ones seemed to reverberate through the cabin more than they should have. Still, most families won’t have issues with this Subie’s ride quality. What is of concern is the steering, which is far too light and lacks any on-centre feel at lower speeds. You could easily see-saw this steering wheel as they used to in movies; things do get better at highway speeds when the steering weights up, but it was hard to get over the lack of feel around town.

I think the biggest problem with the Ascent is that it doesn’t have the spunk or character of other Subarus. The Crosstrek and Forester have carved out a fan base among casual overlanding enthusiasts, the Outback is a popular wagon-in-disguise in a world where wagons are dying, and the WRX looks like nothing else in the sporty compact segment.  But this Ascent just blends right in, and unless they’re quirky or fun-to-drive, Subaru’s shortcomings become a little hard to ignore, like the outdated infotainment, hit-and-miss tech, and some questionable interior bits. At $54,995 as-tested, the 2024 Subaru Ascent Limited is a decent value pick, but will mostly appeal to Subaru brand loyalists — of which there are many.


Vehicle Specs
Three-row midsize SUV
Engine Size
2.4L turbocharged Boxer four-cylinder
Horsepower (at RPM)
260 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (lb-ft.)
277 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
504/1,232/2,141 (all seats up/third row folded/all seats down)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
The DoubleClutch.ca Podcast

About Imran Salam

Staff Writer

Imran is a true enthusiast who you'll find at shows, local meets, Sunday drives or the track. He appreciates the variety the car industry has to offer, having owned over a dozen cars from different manufacturers. Imran is grateful to own one of his childhood poster cars and enjoys inspiring the next generation. When Imran is not behind wheel he is found playing basketball or spending time with family.

Current Toys: '13 Boxster S 6MT, '24 Integra Type S, '08 328xi