Despite the abundance of choices in the three-row crossover segment, Subaru's Ascent remains ahead of the curve with its standard all-wheel drivetrain, generous assortment of standard safety equipment, and versatile seven- or eight-passenger seating arrangements. The 2021 model adds a few notable upgrades that make it even more enticing, highlighted by standard steering-adaptive LED headlights that turn with the steering wheel to illuminate curves and corners. Automatic high beams are also now standard on all trim levels, and the Touring trim adds a new black leather upholstery option with silver stitching.


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Trims and Powertrain


The 2021 Subaru Ascent comes in Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring trims. As mentioned, AWD is standard, and they all have the same powertrain: a turbocharged 2.4-liter engine (260 hp and 277 lb.-ft. of torque) and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The '21 Ascent gets good fuel economy for its size, with the Base and Premium grades returning an EPA-estimated 21 mpg around town and 27 mpg on the highway, while the Limited and Touring models, with the additional weight of their extra standard equipment, achieve 20 city/26 highway.


Comfort and Convenience


The Base comes with LED steering-responsive headlights, roof rails, 60/40-split flat-folding rear seats, a rearview camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a power liftgate. The Premium adds a windshield wiper de-icer, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery, and second-row climate controls. A moonroof, second-row captain's chairs (which reduce the seating capacity to seven), and keyless entry with push-button ignition are available.


The Limited includes keyless entry with push-button start as standard and also provides LED fog lights, turn signal indicators built in to the side mirrors, a power-adjustable front passenger's seat, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The moonroof and second-row captain's chairs remain optional. With the Touring, however, those are both standard. The Touring also supplies chrome exterior accents, ventilated front seats, a smart auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, and a household-style power outlet.


Safety and Technology


The 2021 Subaru Ascent was awarded a five-star crash-test safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has yet to conduct tests on the 2021 model, in 2020 the organization named it a Top Safety Pick. What's more, every 2021 Subaru Ascent trim is provided with the award-winning Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite. This includes a pre-collision braking system, pre-collision throttle management, lane departure and sway warning, and advanced adaptive cruise control (slows down and speeds up automatically) with lane centering functionality. High beam assist is also included. The Premium receives blind-spot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, while reverse automatic braking is available as an option. The Limited and Touring receive it as standard, though.


The base infotainment system is well outfitted with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, HD radio, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, and dual front USB ports. It also comes with a six-speaker audio system. The Premium upgrades to an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with voice recognition and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot; a navigation system can be added. The navigation infotainment unit and a premium 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system are available on the Limited, but they're both included with the Touring.