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2021 Subaru Ascent Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2021 Subaru Ascent Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: Base vs Premium vs Limited & Touring
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

What 2021 Subaru Ascent Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

With the Ascent, Subaru gives its customers a three-row SUV. These types of vehicles are in high demand, and it only makes sense that Subaru wants to appeal to people with big families, those who transport a lot of cargo, and customers who prefer having some flexibility with seating. For 2021, the Ascent is packed with advanced technology. From the driver-assist systems to the infotainment package, this Subaru SUV has plenty of components that modern consumers will appreciate.

Four trims are available for the 2021 Subaru Ascent. There's the base model, which is just called the Ascent, and that's followed by the Premium, Limited, and Touring trims. The base model is priced a bit over $32,000, which puts it in line with many other three-row SUVs. The Premium comes with a modest price increase, and the Limited is about $5,000 more than the Premium. For those looking at the Ascent, it's important to note that it's approximately $6,000 more expensive than the Limited.

Of course, affordability is a real concern for many potential customers. There are also other factors at play, and this detailed guide will give people a better understanding of what each trim has to offer.

Compare the 2021 Subaru Ascent vs Ascent Premium Trim Levels. What is the Difference?

While the first trim of the Ascent is well-equipped, especially as a base model, the Premium does have a bit more that will impress people. On its exterior, the Premium has 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels that are gray with a machine finish, side mirrors that have the same color as the exterior paint, and a de-icer built into the windshield wiper. Plus, it comes with the option to get a power panoramic glass moonroof. In contrast, the base model has 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels with a silver finish and black side mirrors.

Both trims have LED steering responsive headlights, which is a new feature for 2021. These type of headlights do a great job of lighting up the roads, and they can actually change their angle as the vehicle takes turns. This component is illustrative of how much Subaru has focused on advanced technology in recent years to stay competitive in the market.

The trims also have raised roof rails to give people a more convenient way to secure gear on top of their vehicles. Some people prefer keeping equipment, like skis or bikes, on the roof. If anyone wants to take advantage of the storage space in the cabin, there's certainly enough room for a variety of items. Cargo capacity when the rear seats are lowered is 86.5 cubic feet. Behind the second row, there's 47.5 cubic feet of storage space.

Leg room in the front row is 42.2 inches. While there are two additional rows of seating, adults and taller children might be competing for who gets to sit in the second row versus the third. That's because there is 38.6 inches of leg room in the second row and only 31.7 inches of leg room in the back row. This can be seen as a limitation to the Ascent, but people who plan on keeping kids in the back or only using that third row occasionally shouldn't mind too much.

In the base model, there's only once choice of seating arrangement, and that consists of a 60/40 split bench in both the second and third rows. This provides room for eight total people. In the Premium, there's the opportunity to get captain's chairs in the middle row. This can give the interior a more spacious feel, though it cuts seating accommodations down to seven.

The base model has a manually adjustable driver's seat that can move in six ways. The driver's seat in the Premium is an eight-way power-adjustable version. Heated front seats are found in the Premium, as is a stain-resistant cloth upholstery. The base model only has a traditional cloth upholstery that may not be as easy to clean. Further, the Premium's steering wheel and shifter handle are wrapped in leather to enhance the sophistication of the cabin.

These two trims have a power rear gate that can automatically close and be set to open at a specific height. This can be helpful if the vehicle is parked in a smaller garage. The Premium provides second-row passengers with their own set of climate controls.

STARLINK technology is what's features in the Subaru Ascent. The base model uses as 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth. In the Premium, that's bumped up to an eight-inch touchscreen that can understand a limited number of voice controls. The Premium provides customers with the opportunity to get integrated navigation. Additionally, the Premium is the level at which 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability starts.

Safety has been an important part of Subaru's success. All of the Ascents come with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, and this suite includes automatic braking to prevent frontal collisions, systems that can keep a vehicle from veering out of a lane, and adaptive cruise control. All trims also have automatic high beams, anti-lock brakes, and a rear view monitor. At the Premium level, the Ascent is upgraded with blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and available reverse automatic braking. The Premium can be connected to STARLINK Safety and Security, which is a system that lets drivers use roadside assistance and remotely unlock/lock their doors and start their engines.

For those interested in towing cargo, keep in mind that the Premium and higher trims are rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds. Because of its slightly different design, the base model can only tow up to 2,000 pounds.

Compare the 2021 Subaru Ascent Premium vs Limited Trims. What is the Difference?

The engines on the Premium and Limited, like the other trims of the Ascent, are turbocharged models. These engines are capable of generating 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, and they have a displacement of 2.4 liters. The Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission comes with a manual mode and paddle shifters to give the SUV a sportier feel. As many people may be aware of already, the Ascent comes with symmetrical all-wheel drive. This system is constantly monitoring the situation, ready to make changes to power delivery whenever extra traction is needed.

Both trims come with X-Mode, which takes all-wheel drive to the next level. They also have Traction Control and Hill Descent Control; Hill Descent Control keeps the vehicle from picking up too much speed when traveling downhill.

At the Limited level, the Ascent switches from having 18-inch wheels to having 20-inch wheels. These wheels are dark gray and have a machine finish. The Limited is upgraded with LED fog lights and side mirrors that have turn signals integrated into them. These little touches do their part to add to the sophistication of the model.

Inside the cabin of the Limited, there are power-adjustable seats in the two front seating positions. While the Premium has heated front seats, the Limited has heated front and second-row seats. Another heating element is found in the steering wheel, and it can be activated on chilly days. All seats are covered in leather upholstery, and there is an ivory leather interior accent on the doors and parts of the dashboard. Like the Premium, the Limited can either have the seven- or eight-passenger seating configuration.

In terms of amenities, the Limited has keyless access with a push-button start. It also has an auto-dimming rearview mirror that has a compass and HomeLink technology built into it. HomeLink can be used to open a garage door or turn certain security systems on and off. The Limited has two USB inputs in the front and two ports in each of the other seating rows. In contrast, the Premium has two in the front and two in the middle row.

Just like the Premium, the Limited has available navigation and a standard eight-inch touchscreen. It has six speakers like the lower trims do, but it comes with the option to get a Harman Kardon Quantum surround sound system. This system consists of a 792-watt amplifier and 14 speakers.

From a safety perspective, the Limited is very similar to the Premium. The only difference is that it has reverse automatic braking as a standard component. This technology reduces the chances of someone backing into another object; the vehicle can sense the presence of obstacles and can hit the brakes to hopefully prevent a collision.

Compare the 2021 Subaru Ascent Limited vs Touring Trim Levels. What is the Difference?

The Touring represents the best of what Subaru can deliver to its customers. There are a few exterior elements that set the Touring apart from the Limited. For instance, it has satin chrome side mirrors rather than body-color side mirrors, and it has chrome door handles as well. The Touring is the only trim that comes standard with the power panoramic sunroof. This sunroof can slide open or tilt up a few inches to help with ventilation. The glass on the sunroof is designed to filter out 95% of UV light.

Inside the Touring, not only are the front seats heated, but they're also ventilated. This can really improve how comfortable the cabin feels. The Touring automatically comes with captain's chairs, which can be seen by some as a luxury element. Like the Limited, the Touring has leather seats. It's trims is a bit different than that of the Touring; it has an accent trim that has woodgrain patterning.

The rearview mirror in the Touring seems like it's out of the future. It can automatically dim itself, connect with garage doors/security systems through HomeLink technology, and display the video feed from the rearview camera when the vehicle is in reverse. The Touring is the only trim to have a 120-volt AC power outlet which could be useful while people are traveling.

GPS navigation is standard on the Touring. It can make it easier to get around unfamiliar environments and find ways around traffic congestion. Additionally, the Touring is the only trim to come standard with the Harman Kardon premium sound system.

Another way in which the Touring stands apart from the Limited and other trims is that it has a 180-degree camera in the front. This can provide drivers with more information about what's in front of them and help them avoid obstacles.

Which Trim to Choose?

What's nice is that all trims of the Ascent run on the same powerful engine and have symmetrical all-wheel drive. Regardless of the choice of trim, drivers can have confidence behind the wheel and safely travel in a variety of conditions.

There's no doubt that the Subaru Ascent Touring is sleek, modern, and elegant. However, it does come with a hefty price tag, and many people might not be too excited at the prospect of paying more than $45,000 for a vehicle. The truth is that most customers will do just fine without the fancy technology in the Touring.

That leaves the base model, the Premium, and the Limited. The Limited has an upscale cabin with leather seats and high-quality trim, but again, it's a little expensive with a price tag of nearly $40,000.

The Premium seems like it makes the most sense when everything is taken into consideration. It's more competitively priced than the higher trims, and it still comes with an impressive number of features. Its safety features will definitely give people a lot of peace of mind, knowing that their vehicles will be able to keep an eye out for potential problems and can take action in some scenarios.

The Premium also provides people with a lot of choices. A customer can choose whether to get a cabin with room for eight or seven people, and several higher-end components, such as the eight-inch touchscreen and power sunroof, are available. For all of these reasons, the 2021 Subaru Ascent Premium would be the trim to select if one is interested in getting a reliable three-row SUV.

Used 2021 Subaru Ascent:
Previous Subaru Ascent Trim Configurations:

Compare the 2020 Subaru Ascent Trim Levels