After more than three years without a large SUV, New York 2017 debuted a successor to the unloved Tribeca: the Subaru Ascent SUV concept car.
Due for released in 2018, the Subaru Ascent is built to compete with seven+ seat large SUVs such as the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Kluger, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa-Fe and US market Honda Pilot and Volkswagen Atlas. The Ascent takes Subaru’s recent run of higher quality interiors and combines it with three-row all-wheel drive versatility.
The Ascent is powered by an all-new 2.4-litre direct injection turbocharged Boxer engine, which is due to power a whole host of future Subaru models, possibly WRX and Forester variants. Subaru gave no further information on the engine however, suggesting that it is still well within the development stage.
Like the new Impreza and XV, the Subaru Ascent is based on the brand’s new global platform, and dimensionally at least, is very similar to its competitors. At 5,050mm long, 1,990mm wide and 1,840mm high, the Ascent is very closely sized to the Mazda CX-9, and like the CX-9, the Ascent features a seven-seat layout. The Ascent show car featured second row captain’s chairs and three seats in row three, something that may be changed with the production model.
Featuring styling reminiscent of a jacked-up, larger Forester, the Subaru Ascent follows the Volkswagen Atlas’ boxy styling direction for maximum interior versatility and practicality – what the brand is known for. No doubt the show car’s massive 21-inch wheels will be toned down for the production model, possibly 18- or 19-inch items.
On the inside, the Ascent takes recent Subaru interior styling and adds a dash of concept car madness. The production Ascent’s interior layout is plain to see – take away the huge touchscreens, brushed metal trimmings and lashings of over-the-top white and brown leather, and you have the real deal. The show car also features a large panoramic glass roof, something that used to feature in Liberty wagons and Outbacks – hopefully it spreads from the Forester in the current range.
The interior layout is very similar to the new Impreza, a car that impressed us with its quality. A swoopy dashboard is mated to a large touchscreen – we’d bet on the exact same unit as the Impreza making its way across the Subaru range – with four large air vents sitting proudly atop the dashboard.
The Subaru Ascent is, at this stage, off the table for right-hand production and therefore, Australian sales – the North American market is being focussed on first. However, like the Volkswagen Atlas and Honda Pilot, the Ascent would increase Subaru’s market share here in Australia and while our SUV market isn’t as large as America’s, it’s still a 143,000-sale market per year (based off 2016 figures), and that’s an increasing number.
The old Tribeca also earned a small but loyal following during its eight-year run in Australia – something that Subaru would be crazy to ignore. Regardless of being made in right-hand drive however, the production Subaru Ascent will be revealed later in the year, possibly at November’s Los Angeles Auto Show, and begin production in 2018 at the firm’s North American production plant.
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