2022 Subaru Ascent vs Outback
Both the 2022 Subaru Ascent and the 2022 Subaru Outback are classified as midsize SUVs. One of the most obvious things that set them apart, however, is the number of seats inside. While the Outback is a two-row option with a roomy cargo area, the Ascent has three rows for passengers to get comfortable in.
For some, the number of seats alone may be enough to decide between these two vehicles. For others, the choice will not be as simple. There is a significant gap in the starting costs of these vehicles, for example, as well as the fuel efficiency. There are key ways that these SUVs differ, and they are broken down in the following guide.
Size and Styling
Despite both being midsize SUVs, the Ascent is significantly larger than the Outback in 2022. The overall length of the Outback is only 191.3 inches, while the Ascent rides around at 196.8 inches. When it comes to width, the Ascent is three inches bigger. It comes in at 76 inches, versus the 73 inches for the Outback.
The Ascent is also taller with 71.6 inches in height, which is quite a bit more than the Outback's 66.4 inches. This makes sense, considering the fact that the Ascent is a more traditional SUV. The Outback still shows its wagon roots, although it is officially classified as a crossover.
So how do those exterior dimensions translate into cabin space? The Outback is applauded for its two spacious rows of seating. As for the Ascent, it offers up a respectable amount of room in the first two rows. The third row is best saved for smaller children - a problem shared by many midsize three-row SUVs.
In its standard configuration, the Ascent has room for eight. Many models have second-row captain's chairs and room for seven instead. Both of these vehicles offer excellent visibility in all directions for the driver.
Behind its second row of seating, the Outback offers a generous 32.5 cubic feet of space. There are only 17.8 cubic feet behind the third row of the Ascent, but folding that down reveals 47.5 cubic feet. The Outback has a maximum cargo capacity of 75.7 cubic feet behind the first row, and the Ascent can handle up to 86.5 cubic feet. For this reason, buyers who do not necessarily need three rows of seats but who do need extra cargo room should consider the Ascent.
Both the 2022 Ascent and the 2022 Outback come standard with LED headlights. The entry-level Outback rides around on 17-inch alloy wheels, while the entry-level Ascent has 18-inch alloys. Select models of the Outback have 18-inch wheels, and the Ascent can go up to 20-inch options. Both vehicles are available in an Onyx Edition trim level that blacks out exterior accents for a bolder-looking SUV.
The 2022 Ascent is available in eight eye-catching paint colors, including Crimson Red and Abyss Blue. As for the Outback, it is available in ten colors. Choices available for the Outback and not the Ascent are Cinnamon Brown and Geyser Blue.
Every 2022 Subaru Ascent is powered by a turbocharged 2.4L four-cylinder engine that generates 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. There is also a continuously variable transmission underneath the hood of all models. Unsurprisingly, the Ascent comes standard with all-wheel drive in 2022.
The Outback gives buyers two engines to choose from. For the standard, drivers are looking at a 2.5L four-cylinder that makes 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. Once again, a CVT is standard, plus all-wheel drive. The other option for the 2022 Outback is the same turbo 2.4L found underneath the hood of the Ascent. It continues to make 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque when used to move around this smaller SUV.
Both SUVs come with hill descent control. Between the two, the Outback is the more off-road oriented. It is available in a new Wilderness trim level that has a front skid plate, water-repellant leather upholstery, and all-terrain tires. This version of the Outback even has a raised suspension for increased ground clearance and a heavy-duty roof rack that can handle up to 700 pounds.
Overall, the Outback offers a smooth driving experience. There is plenty of steering feedback and stopping power, and the suspension does an admirable job of absorbing bumps in the road. Choosing to go with the Outback Wilderness and its all-terrain tires will reduce the steering feedback, however. The 2022 Ascent has a balanced ride and handling. It may not be thrilling, but everyone should stay comfortable inside this SUV.
If towing is more of the priority, buyers should know that a properly-equipped Ascent can handle up to 5,000 pounds. Be aware that the base model can only bring along 2,000 pounds. As for the Outback, it can tow along up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped and powered by the turbocharged engine. Non-turbo models of the Outback can only tow up to 2,700 pounds.
The new Ascent can get up to 21mpg in the city and 27mpg on the highway. These are considered strong numbers for the class, especially considering the standard all-wheel drive. As for the Outback, its standard engine has drivers seeing 26mpg city and 33mpg highway. The turbocharged engine will drop these numbers to 23mpg city and 30mpg city in all but the Wilderness model, where they go all the way down to 22mpg city and 26mpg highway.
Comfort, Options, and Performance
Interior features between the 2022 Ascent and 2022 Outback vary somewhat significantly. For example, the three-row Ascent comes standard with tri-zone automatic climate control, while the Outback has single-zone automatic climate control. The Outback does upgrade to dual-zones on all but the base model, however.
The infotainment setups look quite different when comparing these two vehicles as well. For the Ascent, Subaru goes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen for the entry-level model. The base Outback is equipped with dual 7-inch touchscreens instead. Both vehicles have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard features for easy smartphone integration.
Stepping up one trim level for the Ascent increases the size of the touchscreen from 6.5-inches to 8-inches. That is as big as the screen gets for this SUV. As for the Outback, its second trim replaces the dual 7-inch screens with an 11.6-inch one.
The standard audio setup for the 2022 Ascent involves six speakers. Buyers have a few premium systems they can consider as well, including a 14-speaker one from Harman Kardon. Meanwhile, the Outback comes standard with only four speakers. Its available Harman Kardon premium setup has 12 speakers.
Another way that the Ascent wins the tech war slightly is with USB ports. This SUV comes standard with four of them, two in the first row and two in the second. The Outback comes standard with just two in the front row. Second-row USB ports are optional for the Outback, while the Ascent offers two third-row USB ports as well.
Both of these SUVs offer a variety of comfort-enhancing features. Heated front seats are standard on both for every trim except the entry-level one. Things like leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and power-adjustable front seats are common on upper trim levels as well.
The top Touring trim level of both the Outback and the Ascent pull out all of the stops. These are the versions of the SUVs that have things like ventilated front seats, ambient interior lighting, and navigation. That said, the Ascent Touring will cost around $6,000 more than the Outback Touring XT, which has the turbocharged engine.
When it comes to crash testing, both the 2022 Ascent and the 2022 Outback performed quite well. They both received a score of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A closer look reveals that both SUVs got five stars in frontal and side collision testing, and they got four stars in rollover testing.
The Insurance Institue for Highway Safety has named both the 2022 Ascent and the 2022 Outback as a Top Safety Pick+. This is the highest honor from the organization. They conducted testing in six categories, including roof strength and side crashes, and they found that both SUVs were "Good" in all six.
Also evaluated by the IIHS are crash avoidance features, including the effectiveness of the headlights. Both the Ascent and Outback received the top score of "Good" in this category in 2022. They received the top score for front crash prevention as well, both with other vehicles and pedestrians.
There are similar standard driver assistance features equipped on both the Ascent and the Outback. They give drivers forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and lane departure warning. Both of these vehicles stand out with their standard adaptive headlights as well. These headlights will swivel as the vehicle corners, making it easier to see what is coming. Adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams are both included in all models as well.
Select models of the Ascent and the Outback come equipped with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Driver drowsiness monitoring is also available, plus a front-view camera system. The Ascent offers a few extra driver aids that the Outback does not, however. Examples include reverse automatic emergency braking, lane-change assist, and LED fog lights. A rear vision mirror camera is also available. It is useful when the cargo area is full because it shows the driver a live feed of what is behind the vehicle.
Which Model to Choose?
Overall, both the 2022 Ascent and the 2022 Outback are excellent choices for families in nearly every way. If seating for more than five is an absolute must, the Ascent becomes an easy choice. Otherwise, it can be trickier to pick between these two.
The Outback is the more rugged choice. Some drivers may be tempted by the larger available touchscreen or the available Wilderness trim level. The Outback is also around $5,000 cheaper than the Ascent, which is certainly a big factor. Throw in the better fuel economy and the Outback seems like a more wallet-friendly option long term.
On the other hand, the Ascent has more interior space. Even if buyers only occasionally need seating for six or more, having that ability will be useful. When extra seating is not necessary, the Ascent has significantly more cargo space to offer than the Outback. It also offers additional driver aids that may bring extra peace of mind to the driver.
Families who are looking for an affordable option that can keep up with their daily drives, as well as weekend adventures, will love the 2022 Subaru Outback. Those who need a little more room for extra passengers and gear should be happy with the 2022 Subaru Ascent.