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2021 Subaru Ascent vs Outback

2021 Subaru Ascent vs Outback

2021 Ascent vs Outback - How do they stack up? What are the differences?

Subaru is setting the automotive standard for craftsmanship and reliability. With their outstanding 2021 Subaru Ascent and Outback SUV models, drivers have two reliable options for conquering roads with confidence. Both vehicles bring a hefty dose of capability, durability, safety - but there are also some distinct differences to consider when selecting between these in-demand SUVs: most notably; the Ascent offers an extra row of seating compared to its counterpart! Learn more about what sets these great Subarus apart here.


Size and Styling

Subaru has created two vehicles, the Ascent and Outback, with a wide stance, rounded edges and nice aesthetic appeal. Both models can be equipped with LED fog lights for better visibility at night; chrome side mirrors to add contrast against its frame; as well as exquisite LED steering responsive headlights which are included in each model's standard equipment list. For an extra touch of flair on the exterior elements is available through options like chrome door handles (Ascent) or body-color inserts in doorhandles (Outback), along with various sizes moonroofs glass roofs allowing plenty of natural light into your driving experience.

With the larger Ascent SUV, you get more space — an extra 5.5 inches in length and three inches of width compared to its counterpart Outback model! While it may be on the bigger side for parking tight spaces, rest assured that maneuverability is still a breeze.

With up to 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the Ascent and Outback are adept at conquering various terrain - from small bumps in the road to large obstacles with ease. The selection for wheels on each vehicle varies accordingly: while both come equipped with 17- or 18-inch options, only the Ascent goes a step further by offering 20” sizes as well.

It makes sense that the Ascent has more interior room. Passengers in this SUV can enjoy a bit more head room and shoulder room than those in the Outback can. Leg room in the Ascent is 42.2, 38.6, and 31.7 in the first, second, and third rows, respectively. The Outback has a front-row leg room of 42.8 inches and a second-row leg room of 39.5 inches. Its passengers are a little better off than those in the Ascent are, at least in terms of the space they have to stretch their legs. Obviously, Subaru had to made some modifications in order to squeeze in a third row.

In the Ascent, eight passengers could ride together. The standard set-up would have a bench seat in the middle row and another bench in the third row. Each bench can fit three people across. Some of the higher trims have captain's chairs in their middle rows to create more interior space. This would bring total seating accommodations down to seven, but it would make it easier to access the third row. The traditional two-row configuration in the Outback allows for five people to sit together.

Given the additional size of the Ascent, it's a given that it's the model with more cargo space. When all of its rear seats have been folded down, it has 86.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Maximum cargo capacity in the Outback is generous, too, at 75.5 cubic feet.


With the Subaru Outback, drivers have two powerful engine configurations from which to choose. The standard 2.4-liter turbocharged powertrain provides an impressive 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque for a maximum tow capacity of 5,000 pounds with three XT trims available as upgrade options featuring decreased yet still superior performance capability at 3,500 lbs. As an alternative option there's also the 2.5 liter non-turbo offering 182 horsepower and 176 pound feet allowing you to confidently handle up to 2700lbs in your adventures.

Subaru has equipped both the Ascent and Outback with its renowned Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, as well as X-MODE and Hill Descent Control. The latter two technologies provide a unique blend of performance enhancement on low traction surfaces while allowing drivers to focus solely on steering when travelling downhill by limiting speed automatically. For an even more adventure driven experience, check out the Outback Onyx Edition XT which sports an exclusive Deep Snow/Mud setting for X-MODE.

In terms of fuel consumption, the Outback is the better choice. Its trims that run on the non-turbo engines can earn up to 33 miles per gallon on the highway and 26 miles per gallon in the city. The XT trims with the turbo engines have an estimated fuel economy of 30/23 (highway/city) miles per gallon. This is more than what the Ascent can do with that same engine, which is 27/21 (highway/city) miles per gallon.

The Outback and the Forester both feature standard braking systems, but the Outback has something extra special: Auto Vehicle Hold. This helpful technology applies pressure to your brakes for you when stopped on an incline - a great safety option. Plus, those who love manual control have access to convenient paddle shifters available in either vehicle.

Comfort, Options and Performance

The two models have similar cabins, other than the fact that one has the additional row of seats. Both start with cloth upholstery and manually adjustable front seats. Moving up in trim is associated with having heated front seats, power-adjustable front seats, and leather-wrapped gear shifters and steering wheels. Higher trims of both models can be upgraded with ventilated and heated front seats, heated rear seats, and heated steering wheels.

The Outback and Ascent both offer various options for upholstery, but the features vary between models. While Outbacks feature leather or StarTex seats in mid-level trims with an option of Nappa Leather in higher levels, Ascents come standard with cloth seating that is stain resistant along optional upgrades such as Ivory leather trim on the dashboard and doors plus woodgrain accents to increase sophistication.

The available amenities in either of these models should please most customers. These vehicles can come with keyless access with push-button start and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, though these aren't standard across the lineups. A power rear gate that is height-programmable is standard in the Ascent. The Outback's higher trims have a hands-free power rear gate that has the height memory function, too. The Outback starts out with automatic climate control, but every trim except the base model has a dual-zone automatic climate control. In the Ascent, there's a tri-zone climate control system, and most trims have second-row climate controls.

In the Ascent, every trim has two USB ports in the front and two USB ports in the back. The top half of the lineup also has a pair of USB ports in the third row. The Outback has two USB ports in the first row as standard components. Most trims have an additional pair of USB ports in the second row so that passengers can more easily keep their devices charged.

STARLINK technology is used in Subaru's vehicles. The Ascent's base trim has a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, HD Radio, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The other trims have eight-inch touchscreens. Optional on the mid-level trims and standard on the Touring are integrated navigation and a Harman Kardon Quantum Surround Sound audio system with 14 speakers. Wi-Fi capability is included with the three out of the four Ascent trims.

Comparable systems are found in the Outback. Its base model has a seven-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, Bluetooth, HD Radio, and SiriusXM. The other trims have much larger 11.6-inch touchscreens. Three out of the seven trims come standard with built-in navigation, and this program is available on three others. The Harman Kardon sound system included with the more premium Outbacks has 12 speakers, and Wi-Fi capability is found on almost all of the Outbacks.


Subaru is taking its commitment to safety and driver confidence to the next level with their Ascent and Outback SUVs, outfitted for every situation. Even in difficult conditions, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive works together with available Automatic High Beams so you can see more on dark roads ahead - while a Rearview Camera lets drivers back up safely when reversing direction. Plus, 180-Degree Front View Monitors are optional extras that provide extra assistance in tight parking spaces.

Subaru has outfitted each model with the revolutionary EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, delivering a wide range of state-of-the art driver assistance. It boasts adaptive cruise control allowing your vehicle to keep up in fast moving traffic situations, pre-collision braking for added safety and lane departure warning as well as lane keeping assist to ensure you remain on course every journey.

Higher trims have blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert. Along with this component, they could have reverse automatic braking. The Outback has one available element that the Ascent does not, and that's a DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System. It can detect when a driver is not paying close attention to the road, and if so, it can issue an alert to get the driver re-focused on what's important.


Which Model to Choose?

Although the Subaru Ascent and Outback share many similarities, there is one distinct difference - price. For those seeking a roomier cabin with an additional row of seating, opting for the higher-priced Ascent might be worth it at $32,295; however budget conscious shoppers may find that basic trim levels of the more affordable Outback offer options just as desirable at its base cost of $26,795.

The Subaru Ascent and Outback offer similar features in many ways, making them both attractive to consumers. However, one major difference between the two is their price points - the Ascent's base trim costs $32,295 while its counterpart offers a lower starting cost of just 26795 dollars for enhanced affordability.

The Outback Touring offers a cutting edge engine at an excellent value, with prices ranging from $35,145 - $37,495. These figures align nicely alongside the Ascent's trims in terms of quality and cost though none can match its top-tier Touring trim.

The Ascent is the ideal vehicle for consumers who transport more than five people, as it's remarkably spacious with three rows of seating - a singularity among Subaru models. Moreover, even those only requiring additional passenger space from time to time can take comfort in knowing that the third row provides an accommodating solution during occasional peak travel times or special events.

With a variety of trims and powertrain options, the Outback is an excellent choice for drivers with varied tastes. It offers budget-friendly base models as well as more luxurious higher end choices; perfect for those who don't need additional seating but require high performance or lavish features.

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