2020 Subaru Ascent essentials: Stepping up

Our Opinion: My first thought here is that the Ascent doesn’t feel like a Subaru inside. It feels way nicer. And that’s not a knock on standard Subies, I have no problem with the way the WRX or Forester or BRZ are set up. This just feels like a Mazda CX-9 level of upgrade. All of the touchpoints are soft — and my elbows are pointy, so I’d know — the stitching is impeccable and the materials (mostly leather) look fancy. The huge sunroof lets a ton of light in and with the seats folded down there’s a ton of cargo room. The new navigation/infotainment system looks good and is easy to use with redundant buttons for modes and such.
Power from the Ascent’s powertrain is fine, and not annoyingly slow, but the CVT is still a little weird. Sometimes you put your foot down and the Ascent takes off like a rocket, other times it just groans and goes a little faster. At certain speeds it seems to need a faux downshift to get power, and at others it doesn’t. Normal takeoffs and expressway entrances are fine. Just put the pedal down 2/3 of the way and wait until you hit your desired speed.
It does feel a little more nimble than your average three-row vehicle. The Ascent’s steering is above average quick and very precise. It also feels lighter on its feet than its 4,600-pound weight would suggest. Just keep the throttle planted and do whatever you want. There was no inclement weather to speak of, so I can’t comment on the AWD system, but that will come soon enough.