Sunday, December 5, 2021

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Cars in the City

Subaru Ascent

11/3/2021

Versatile 4-wheel drive crossover makes for an easy ride with room for people and all that stuff.

Test car driven: 2021 Subaru Ascent, $47,864 with option package 33; 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway.

When you take a vehicle for a spin, you want a smooth ride with good handling. A day-to-day driver requires extra room in the vehicle for passengers and cargo, but it’s a different ride each day. Sometimes you’re transporting a lively gang of friends to tailgate at your favorite Iowa football game, while other times you might be venturing off for a family camping weekend, loaded down with tents, coolers and bikes all packed in the back.

The Subaru Ascent can handle it all. The 2021 Ascent is a versatile model, as it can hold seven passengers with an optional second-row captain’s chairs. The third-row bench seating, however snug with adult passengers, folds down easily with the pull of a strap, opening up space for more stuff. There is also under-the-floor storage, a bonus area.

The Ascent appeals to buyers of other Subaru models — the Outback and the Forester —who require more space. It’s considered a crossover SUV. I never really knew what that term meant, so here’s the explanation: A crossover SUV is built with a unibody frame construction. That means crossovers are based on a platform shared with a passenger car, as opposed to a pickup truck.

The benefit of a crossover means the ride is more comfortable, stable and easier to drive than a traditional SUV.

I discovered that firsthand. As I was driving along, my GPS suddenly told me to do a U-turn. As there wasn’t much room to navigate between the median and the curb, I figured it would take a few shifts into drive and reverse before I could make the turn. It only took one turn, without putting the shifter in reverse. I was surprised at the ease of maneuverability. It felt just like my sedan, which turns on a dime.

The Subaru is a smooth ride and boasts many safety features, such as lane-departure warning, rear-vision camera and auto emergency braking. While driving along, the car chimed several times. Did I cross the center lane? Was a car coming too close? I wasn’t sure what it was trying to tell me, but it certainly kept me alert. 

The dual panoramic rooftop mimicked driving in a convertible as rays of warm sunshine warmed me on a cool fall day. The second-row passengers experience that same open-air feeling, too.

The window sticker said there were 19 cup and bottle holders. I didn’t count them, but that’s an important number, because we all know how much other junk we put in those holders.

Subaru made its first car in Japan in 1954 and sold its first car in the United States in 1968. Subaru’s greatest selling point was offering an efficient four-wheel drive passenger car.

If you need a crossover that’s an easy ride — with room for people and all that stuff — the Subaru Ascent is an ideal choice. ♦

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