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2022 Subaru Ascent vs Forester

2022 Subaru Ascent vs Forester

2022 Ascent vs Forester - How Do They Stack Up? What are the differences?

When it comes to SUVs, Subaru knows how to build a capable off-roader. They've been doing it for decades and have their all-wheel drive drivetrains down to a science. But the SUV market is even more extensive now than it was two decades ago. Fortunately, Subaru does a lot to keep up with the times. The 2022 Subaru Ascent and 2022 Subaru Forester reflect that urge to meet consumer demands.

The 2022 Subaru Ascent comes with a massive list of standard and optional tech gadgetry and enhanced driver aids. The Ascent's user-oriented cabin is outfitted with a slew of high-quality materials. Also, the infotainment system feels approachable and intuitive. Having standard all-wheel drive (AWD) and 8.7 inches of ground clearance feel like the cherry on top, especially if you like to go off-roading and/or live somewhere that experiences a lot of inclement weather.

Unfortunately, the Ascent is inundated with an abundance of engine and road noise that make their way into the cabin. What's more, the Ascent's gas pedal is overly touchy, and whenever you hit a bump at a higher rate of speed, it sends reverberations throughout the cabin. The third row makes for a tight squeeze, and shoulder room is limited inside of the second row.

Likewise, the 2022 Subaru Forester has that standard AWD system on it. There is an immense amount of cargo space in the back. Also, Subaru's EyeSight suite equips the vehicle with a bunch of helpful driver aids. Given the AWD and 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the Forester makes for a rather rugged off-roading vehicle. However, the Forester's utility is restricted by its lower-than-average maximum tow ratings. On top of that, the base engine is sluggish and struggles to get the Forester off the line.

So, which Subaru SUV is the right one for you - the Ascent or the Forester? They have a lot of similarities but some clear differences as well. Let's compare the two to see which one is going to work out best.

Size and Styling

The 2022 Subaru Ascent is a full-size third-row SUV that can seat up to eight people. (There is an optional seven-passenger seating configuration starting on the Premium trim level with two second-row captain's chairs instead of the bench.) Having debuted for 2019, the Ascent is one of Subaru's newest vehicles. It is indeed bigger than the Forester and is actually Subaru's largest vehicle. It retains the wagon-esque crossover look that is characteristic of Subaru.

Some of the exterior styling cues you'll find on it include standard 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, and a power rear liftgate. On the sleek Onyx Edition, you get 20-inch alloy wheels done in a black finish, black exterior trim to match the front grille, and LED fog lights. The Limited gains 20-inch dark gray alloy wheels, and the line-topping Touring adds a panoramic sunroof.

The 2022 Subaru Forester is a small crossover that offers its buyers the traditional Subaru outdoorsy appeal. It, too, is based on the good ol' hatchback design, but it is only a two-row vehicle capable of seating five.

On the exterior, you will find standard 17-inch wheels done in steel, LED headlights, raised roof rails, fog lights or upgraded LED fog lights (depending on the trim level), black and orange interior and exterior accents on the Sport trim, the Wilderness trim's exclusive 17-inch wheels with their all-terrain tires (and its higher ground clearance), and a roof rack.


What does a strong powertrain mean to you? It probably helps make driving an SUV a lot more fun. You want to be able to take your family and friends on adventures and not feel like you have to press into full throttle just to get up and moving. But that's exactly how a poor powertrain might perform. And, unfortunately, Subaru seems to be dumping some disappointing base engines into these vehicles. And the upgraded turbo engines? They come off as merely average, and that certainly impacts drivability.

The 2022 Subaru Ascent receives its power from a standard turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine puts forth 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque and gets paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (which is also called a CVT). AWD is standard on every trim level, as is the case for all Subaru SUVs.

The Ascent's available turbo engine sends out a fair bit of power whenever you demand it. As you press down even slightly on the Ascent's accelerator, there will be a strong thrust of power that surges forth. You will need to utilize some footwork finesse in order to make the CVT feel smooth as it shifts in everyday driving scenarios.
Even a minute amount of throttle input gives the vehicle quite a burst of acceleration, and that will send you and your passengers lurching forward in your seats. The Ascent's standard AWD system includes software-controlled traction and hill descent control. And, of course, with the 8.7 inches of ground clearance on this vehicle, it clearly performs well in snow, rain, and on unpaved roadways.

The Subaru Ascent can get about 23.6 mpg in combined driving (at least, according to real-world tests), which barely beats the EPA estimated 22 mpg combined. Based on how and where you are driving, the Ascent might even be able to nab you closer to 25 mpg combined. 87 octane fuel can be used in the Ascent, so you do not need to splurge on that costly premium fuel that so many other SUVs request that you use.

As for the 2022 Subaru Forester, its power comes from a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder. It only puts forth 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque, which is directed to each of the four wheels. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is also standard issue.
The Forester takes a beefy 9.3 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph, which is a slow showing for a vehicle in this segment. While the Forester registers as being planted as it rounds through turns, it definitely does not have a sporty vibe behind it. However, this vehicle standard out when it goes off of the beaten path, given its standard AWD and 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
The Wilderness trim level gives the Forester even more ground clearance, not to mention some front skid plates, making it even more equipped to travel off of paved pathways.

The Forester's fuel economy sits at an EPA estimated 29 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. These register as high estimates for this class, but the Forester's exceedingly underwhelming base engine guzzles gas too much to actually meet these estimates. Actually, real-world tests make it obvious that you will be fortunate to almost hit that 29 mpg benchmark.

Comfort, Options and Performance

An attractive interior layout and plenty of comfort characterize the 2022 Subaru Ascent. Third-row passengers might yearn for softer seat covers to make long car rides a touch more comfy. The dual-zone climate control system helps keep the cabin feeling relaxingly temperate. Rear seat passengers reap the benefit of having ceiling-mounted vents that are capable of evenly distributing air to everyone.

But here's a downside: when the Ascent roll over imperfections in the pavement below, you and any other occupants in the vehicle will hear a ridiculous amount of tire noise and will feel vibrations shuddering throughout the cabin. Engine noise can be as quiet as a low-pitched humming but can become a loud, thunderous groaning sound as the Ascent's RPMs close in on redline. The Ascent's ride comfort isn't really on par with its competition, although it doesn't feel very floaty and disconnected.

The Ascent's seven-seater configuration with the captain's chairs is helpful for full-size adults. However, if you have to chauffer a lot of kids about, the eight-seater is better for kid-haulin' duty... and for stashing cargo. The controls up front are all clearly labeled, and most things will feel intuitively placed.

The Ascent's huge side windows and door-mounted side mirrors contribute to superb side visibility. You won't need to rely on the rear-view camera in order to see out of the back of the vehicle either. However, there is some confusion as to where the front bumper rides due to the sloping hood's structure.

The Ascent is packed to the brim with Subaru's latest and greatest technology. Subaru's Starlink system proves to be quite helpful. The crisp graphics on the infotainment touchscreen display look nice, and the system is user-oriented with multiple ways to connect your smartphone to it. All tablets or smartphones can be quickly charged up with the abundance of USB ports that come in all three rows.

You do get a good amount of cargo space inside of the Ascent, with up to 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row bench. Fold the two back rows down to max things out at 86 cubic feet.
While the load floor isn't fully flat, but it is decent enough. Small item storage spaces border on the smaller side of things, but there really are enough of them available. Add to that the fact that most of the Ascent trims have a max towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. You will have trailer sway reduces via the standard Trailer Stability Assist feature. The optional trailer hitch assembly -which includes a wiring harness - is something you might feel you need to equip here.

Now for the 2022 Subaru Forester. The front seats have enough side bolstering and are indeed padded for day-long comfort. The Forester's suspension is tuned for comfort and has calm mannerisms. This suspension can easily smooth out bumps in the road. Noise intrusion is well muted inside of the cabin saved for its taller height generating some wind noise at highway speeds. The majority of the Forester's trim levels have standard heated front seats, plus you can get an available climate control system that does a thorough job of heating and cooling the cabin to the set temperatures.

Controls are concisely labeled and displayed within your reach from your place in the driver's seat, creating an all-around easy-to-use appeal. The Forester's SUV-like ride height and huge door openings make it easy to get into and out of the cabin. The driver's seat and steering wheel have a lot of adjustability, which makes it simple for drivers of any sizes to find a comfortable seating position.

Technology is equally strong on the Forester as it is on the Ascent. Its central dual-screen set-up is high-tech but does not require you to follow a long learning curve. Simply navigate through the touchscreen menus to get to what you need - it won't take long. Voice controls and navigation function just as expected, and smartphone app integration (which can be done through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) gives you a user-friendly alternative to using nav and voice controls. Also, much of the Forester's trim levels come with a set of front and rear USB ports.


Basically every driver on the road is concerned with safety in all regards. Auto manufacturers like Subaru know just how high the demand for driver aids is, and Subaru equips its models with the EyeSight suite of driver aids to help meet consumer demand.

When you get the 2022 Subaru Ascent, you will get adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist as standard features. Should you upgrade one trim to the Premium, there is a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert added on. Also, you can choose to equip rear automatic braking on the eight-seater configuration - it is standard on the seven-seater. The line-topping Touring trim tops it all off with a 180-degree forward parking camera.

As for the Subaru Forester, standard driver aids include adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning. If you decide to upgrade to the Sport trim level, it will give you evasive steering assist and a blind spot monitor with a rear cross-traffic alert. Its own line-topping Touring also comes with a driver monitoring system to detect and warn you if it senses that you are becoming distracted or drowsy as you drive.

Which Model to Choose?

The 2022 Subaru Ascent and 2022 Subaru Forester are strong and capable vehicles - as long as you order the optional turbo engine, that is. Both have base engines that are nothing short of bland. You won't feel anything terribly thrilling as you cruise around, but these vehicles both feel secure when going off the beaten path. But, if we had to choose, we'd stick with the Forester.
If you absolutely do not need that third row, don't bother with the Ascent. Why? The Ascent is basically just the Forester with another row. The Forester is a little more budget-friendly since it isn't as big as the Ascent, and it has almost everything available that the Forester does. You get plenty of standard features with enough options left over to help you customize the Forester to your liking. All in all, the Forester is a solid bet if you plan to do a lot of camping or adventuring of any sort.

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2021 Subaru Ascent VS Forester