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Subaru Ascent 2023: facelifted Kluger, Palisade, Telluride rival revealed in North America

John Law

Subaru’s largest SUV has had a Forester-style makeover adding additional safety tech and larger infotainment screens

Subaru in the United States has debuted its facelifted seven- and eight-seat Ascent large SUV that is set for release in North America in the third quarter of this year.

Changes to the updated Ascent are headlined by the addition of a more rugged Onyx edition that’s equipped with 20-inch alloy wheels, black exterior trim, and water-repellent upholstery with green stitching.

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The Ascent Onyx features green contrast stitching

The US-built Subaru Ascent is not currently sold in Australia, but in its home market sits above the Outback lifted wagon and offers seating for up to seven passengers.

Chasing Cars understands discussions are underway about bringing the next-generation Ascent three-row SUV to Australia in the middle of this decade.

Under the bonnet of the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Kluger rival is a 194kW 2.4-litre turbo-petrol flat-four that was originally for the US only, but is now being built in Japan for the new WRX and – eventually – the Outback turbo

In North America, the Ascent’s 4999mm length and 1930mm width make this large SUV a direct rival for the Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Palisade, Nissan Pathfinder and Kia Telluride.

Subaru Ascent 2023-2
Sadly, this facelifted Ascent is unlikely to come to Australia

As for whether the Ascent will come to Australia, it is unlikely that even this facelift will make it downunder as it is built for left-hand-drive markets exclusively. 

Speaking to Chasing Cars earlier this year at the launch of the new BRZ, managing director Blair Read said ​​“for this current generation of Ascent, it’s still the left-hand-drive limitation at this point in time. [But] it’s on the radar and is something we continue to discuss for a future generation.”

What’s new about the 2023 Ascent?

The Ascent has adopted design cues from the facelifted Forester including the new LED headlights and C-shaped taillights, there’s also a lightly updated grille and new alloy wheels for the range. 

The Ascent’s technology package has improved significantly with the availability of an 11.6-inch portrait touchscreen that has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability along with digital radio.

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The new Ascent gets a tougher exterior for 2023

Optionally, the Ascent is available with TomTom live navigation in North America. 

How well equipped is the Ascent?

The base Ascent packs three-zone climate control, 19 cupholders, a mix of USB-A and USB-C charge ports and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Moving up to the Premium improves safety credentials with blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist with rear AEB optional. 

Inside, the Ascent Premium also features a leather-appointed steering wheel, eight-way electric driver’s seat, heated front seats and heated windscreen wiper.

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A generous 11.6-inch touchscreen is available

Moving up to the Ascent Onyx (which is similar in concept to the Australian-market Outback Sport) adds water-repellent upholstery with lime stitching, keyless go, sunroof and power tailgate. 

Leaning into its off-road looks, the Onyx also gets a more comprehensive X-Mode terrain control with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings bolstering the large SUV’s 221mm ground clearance. 

The Limited grade brings leather upholstery, adjustable lumbar, built-in sunshades and heating for the middle row as well as a heather steering wheel. The Limited is also available with second-row captain’s chairs, capping seating at seven but offering greater comfort. 

At the top of the range, the Ascent Touring gets the Onyx’s black grille but with chrome door handles and woodgrain trim inside. 

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The Ascent is available with Java Brown leather upholstery

The Touring also gets the 11.6-inch portrait touchscreen, Harman Kardon soundsystem, auto-wipers and the option of perforated leather upholstery dyed Slate Black or Java Brown. 

Subaru North America has not released 2023 Ascent pricing yet, but it is expected to command a small amount more than the prior US$33,970 list price. 

The facelifted Ascent is still unlikely to reach Australia, though if it were to arrive it could be priced from around AU$50,000.

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