Car Buying Strategies
Search Car Buying Strategies Makes & Models Select a Make and Model Makes & Models Select a Make and Model New Cars Prices Buying Advice
Home | New Cars | Subaru | 2021 Subaru Ascent

2021 Subaru Ascent vs Toyota Highlander

2021 Subaru Ascent vs Toyota Highlander

2021 Ascent vs Highlander - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Are you searching for the perfect large family SUV? Look no further than the 2021 Subaru Ascent and Toyota Highlander - both renowned for their dependability, safety, modern tech features and spacious interiors. Whether it's transporting loved ones or extra cargo around town, these three-row SUVs have everything needed to make life a breeze.


The Powertrain

The Toyota and Subaru Ascent offer two distinct powertrain solutions for those looking to get the job done. The 2.4-liter turbocharged engine of the latter packs a powerful punch, with 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque propelling it up to 2000 pounds in maximum tow capacity on base models or even 5000 lbs if you go higher up in trim levels. Preferring size over sheer strength? Then look no further than the mighty 3.5L V6 that comes as an option with your Toyota - offering 295 horses at 263 lb-ft while maintaining uniformity when it comes to max load potential across all trims.

What will likely be a point of interest for some buyers is that the Highlander is available as a hybrid. The hybrid powertrain uses a 2.5-liter gas-powered engine and an electric motor. Net horsepower is 243, which falls slightly short of the mark that the Ascent has set.

For everyday driving or off-road adventuring, Toyota and Subaru offer excellent choices when it comes to capability. The Highlander is a great choice if you're looking for the option of front-wheel or all-wheel drive; however, those who need more power in inclement conditions might prefer the Ascent's standard symmetrical all-wheel drive with X Mode engaged - perfect for reducing wheelspin on slippery patches as well keeping control while taking turns at higher speeds.

Drivers who are looking to go the extra mile in fuel efficiency should consider taking a look at The Ascent or Highlander. On highways, both can reach up to 27 miles per gallon; however, drivers that opt for the hybrid version of Highlander could get even more bang for their buck with 35/36 (highway/city) MPG. With its unique braking technology capable of capturing energy and storing it as battery power, city mileage is slightly better than on highway drives – so you'll be saving money while driving around town.

Before moving on to a different section, this overview should touch on the transmissions that these vehicles have. This may not matter to the casual driver, but those who have some knowledge of a vehicle's mechanical components work may be interested in hearing more.

The Subaru Ascent offers the best of both worlds; there is an eight-speed manual mode that allows drivers to take control with paddle shifters, or they can let the Lineartronic continuously variable transmission do all the work. Meanwhile, Toyota's traditional and hybrid models offer a responsive electronically controlled automatic system – although some may miss having those convenient paddle shifters at their fingertips.


If you've ever wanted to be the king of the road, these SUVs are your perfect solution. Sitting inches above other vehicles with an impressive ground clearance - 8 and 8.7 respectively – they provide their drivers with a commanding view of their surroundings. In addition, despite being two BIG rides that won't fit in small parking spaces easily, both cars boast incredible maneuverability due to similar lengths (196.8 for Subaru Ascent and 194.9 for Toyota) as well as widths of 76 inches each.

Need a vehicle that offers enough space for both passengers and cargo? Look no further than the Subaru Ascent or Toyota Highlander! Both provide plenty of leg room in the first two rows - 42.2 inches (Ascent) and 42 inches (Highlander). For those longer trips, you’ll appreciate having 86.5 cubic feet (Ascent) or 84.3 cubic feet (Highlander) available once you fold down all rear seats – plus flexibility to lower only one side if needed.

A 6.5-inch touchscreen, which comes with smartphone compatibility and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, is standard in the Subaru. When moving past the base model, there's an eight-inch touchscreen. The middle two trims have the option of getting navigation, a program that's standard on the top trim. All of the trims, with the exception of the base model, have Wi-Fi capability.

The Toyota Highlander offers plenty of tech features to satisfy even the most discerning customer. Its standard eight-inch touchscreen boasts Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and SiriusXM compatibility - plus Wi-Fi connection through their Connected Services program and Amazon Alexa integration! Those looking for an expanded digital experience can opt into one of its higher trims which include a massive 12.3 inch integrated navigation system powered by JBL's 11 speaker set up including subwoofer; while the highest Ascent trim has Harman Kardon components with 14 speakers at play.

Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & & Motortrend.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.


The Subaru and Toyota companies have joined forces to bring enhanced driver-assist technologies into each of their vehicles. With the Ascent and Highlander having some of the most impressive safety packages, drivers can rest assured knowing they are being actively monitored while on the road. To protect passengers even further, both brands offer standard top-of-the line features with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology in Subarus and Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ for Toyotas - offering unparalleled protection every time you hit the pavement.

With EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, the Ascent can sense if it's approaching another vehicle too quickly or is veering out of a lane. If so, the driver would be given an alert, and the vehicle would have the ability to hit the brakes or correct steering. With the adaptive cruise control and lane centering program, the Ascent could monitor its speed and steering on relatively quiet stretches of highway. Higher trims of the Ascent are enhanced with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, in addition to reverse automatic braking. The Touring trim of the Ascent has a 180-degree camera view showing the driver what's in front of the vehicle. This could be a big help when parking or maneuvering in tight spaces.

Many of the same features are found in the Toyota. The Highlander also has the ability to warn drivers about potential frontal collisions or when they're drifting to one side of a lane. It has mitigation abilities as well, so it can correct steering and/or hit the brakes if necessary to avoid an accident. One component that only the Highlander has is Road Sign Assist. With this technology, the vehicle can "read" road signs and then display them to the driver in the Multi-Information Display behind the steering wheel. This would serve as a gentle reminder to slow down or yield, for example.

Further, the top trims of the Toyota Highlander could have a bird's eye view camera. This would provide a driver with an all-around view of the vehicle and the objects around it.

Both of these vehicles provide a reassuringly rigid frame and reliable brakes that are poised to tackle any situation. However, the Ascent Touring has an extra layer with its 180-degree front-facing camera giving you peace of mind on even your wildest journeys while the Highlander comes equipped with Road Sign Assist plus an optional 360 degree camera for maximum awareness in all directions.

Which Has the Best Value?

A front-wheel-drive L trim of the Highlander costs $34,910, and the entry-level model of the Ascent costs $32,295. Neither vehicle is what anyone would consider cheap, though these prices are certainly reasonable given the size of these models and all of their amenities. If budget is going to be a primary factor for a potential customer, then the Ascent would win the matchup.

With four trims to choose from, the Ascent provides a range of features sure to delight. Starting at just $32,295 for the base model with an attractive infotainment system and solid safety package plus cloth seats, power rear gate, three-zone climate system and LED steering responsive headlights; it's hard not beat! Upgrade to Premium trim ($34,795) for heated front seats & larger touchscreen or Limited ($39,595) which adds leather seating surfaces as well as 20" wheels & fog lighting technology. For those searching ultimate luxury in their ride - look no further than Touring: complete natural light moonroofs + chrome exterior accents that'll leave you gleaming while built-in navigation manages your route all atop luxe ventilated/heated seat cushions – available now at only $$45,445.

The description of the Highlander's lineup is much more involved, so this overview will simply provide some highlights of each trim. The L is pretty similar to the base model of the Ascent, the LE ($37,110) is upgraded with a power liftgate and LED fog lights, and the XLE ($39,910) treats people to a power moonroof and SofTex upholstery. The XSE ($41,505) has a sportier feel with its unique exterior accents and 20-inch wheels. The Limited ($43,865) and Platinum ($47,065) are quite sophisticated with leather upholstery, heated steering wheels, and advanced infotainment systems with navigation. The Platinum really stands out with its standard 360-degree camera view and power panoramic moonroof.

Keep in mind that the LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum are all available as hybrids. In general, a hybrid would be about $1,500 more expensive than its traditional counterpart.

Which is Better?

When it comes to the 2021 Subaru Ascent and Toyota Highlander, there are several similarities between them but also a few differences. While the Highlander has superior horsepower under its belt than that of the Ascent's traditional powertrain, torque favors in favor of the latter vehicle. To make matters even more interesting for performance-minded drivers, all-wheel drive is standard on an Ascent--but optional with a Highlander. Whether you're looking for pure speed or optimal grip during icy conditions - both cars have something exclusive to offer.

If people plan on loading up their cabins with passengers, the Ascent would be the model to choose. This is because it has several more inches of leg room in its third row.

When looking at the safety and technology packages, the Highlander does come out ahead, especially when taking into account all the available features that can come with its higher trims. If budget isn't a concern, then the Highlander would be the better choice for many buyers. If budget is a concern, the Subaru Ascent seems like the more strategic vehicle to get.

Save Money on a 2021 Subaru Ascent:
Are you Shopping for a New Vehicle? Find the Best Deals with "Free - No Hassle" Prices Quotes.
Save money on new vehicles

Get up to 4 local dealers to compete for your business by offering free, competitive pricing. Know before you go to the dealer.

Every dealer offers a secret price. Find yours here.