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2023 Subaru Ascent Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons.

2023 Subaru Ascent Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: Base vs Premium and Onyx Edition and Limited vs Passenger

What 2023 Subaru Ascent Trim Should You Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

The three-row SUV segment of the market is full of versatile and practical choices. Families have turned to this vehicle type in recent years for the cargo and passenger space. Due to the growing popularity, practically every brand has at least one three-row SUV in their lineup.

Buyers who want a three-row SUV from Subaru have only one option. The Ascent is relatively new to the game, having debuted in 2019. For the 2023 Ascent, Subaru goes with a new grille design and upgrades the infotainment system with an 11.6-inch touchscreen. Wireless versions of both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard across the board.

With six trim levels to select from, the 2023 Subaru Ascent tries to appeal to every type of family. There is nearly a fifteen thousand dollar difference between the first option and the last, and it is important to be familiar with what each model has to offer. The information needed to make the right choice can be found in the following guide.


Compare the Base vs Premium Trims. What is the difference?

It is worth knowing that every 2023 Subaru Ascent has the same powertrain underneath the hood. A 2.4L turbo four-cylinder is standard, and it gives this midsize SUV the ability to create 260 horsepower along with 277 lb-ft of torque. Every Ascent has all-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission.

The base Ascent has a silver finish on its 18-inch alloy wheels. LED steering responsive headlights are standard on all models, making it easier to see what is around the next corner. There are black side mirrors and body-colored door handles. Like every Ascent, the base model has raised roof rails for another storage option.

A six-way manually adjustable driver's seat comes standard for the entry-level Ascent. There is a second-row bench seat and room for up to eight. The base Ascent is not available with captain's chairs. There are illuminated USB-A and USB-C ports in both the front and second rows, something that is sure to appeal to families.

Another nice touch for families is the 19 cupholders found throughout the cabin. An underfloor storage tray in the cargo area is standard as well. Tri-zone automatic climate control is included, but this entry-level model does not have second-row climate controls. The infotainment system for the 2023 Ascent runs on an 11.6-inch touchscreen. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also included, and there is a six-speaker sound system.

The 2023 Ascent comes standard with automatic high beams, daytime running lights, and a rearview camera with a washer. It also has the EyeSight collection of features, meaning this SUV comes with pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and even sway warning. Automatic emergency steering is a somewhat unique feature that is included as well.

The next choice for buyers to consider is the Ascent Premium, which is the same mechanically. That said, this model can tow up to 5,000 pounds, while the base model can only handle 2,000. The 5,000-pound limit remains consistent for the rest of the lineup.

There are still 18-inch wheels when buyers choose the Premium model, but this trim shows off a gray finish instead. The side mirrors are now body-colored, and they get a bit of extra sophistication with integrated turn signals added to the mix. A windshield wiper de-icer finishes off the list of exterior upgrades for the Ascent Premium.

An eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat is the first major upgrade inside this trim level. Heated front seats are added as well. Unlike the base model, the Premium can be had with either a second-row bench or second-row captain's chairs, reducing the seating capacity to seven.

The upholstery for the Premium trim level is still cloth, but it is now stain-resistant. For a little more luxury, this model has a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a leather-wrapped shift knob. Tri-zone automatic climate control remains standard, but the Premium trim level does add those second-row controls that are missing from the base model.

A Wi-Fi hotspot becomes standard when buyers choose the Ascent Premium. This model also gets blind-spot monitoring, a high-tech safety feature that is popular with drivers. If buyers choose the seven-passenger version of this trim, they also get reverse automatic braking.

That is not the only feature gained by going with the seven-passenger Premium trim rather than the eight-passenger version. Models with the captain's chairs also get a power liftgate and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Proximity keyless entry with push-button start is thrown in as well.

There is a jump of around $2,750 when going from the base trim to the Premium model. Choosing the captain's chairs over the bench seat will mean paying another $1,500.

Compare the Premium vs Onyx Edition. What is the difference?

There are no performance upgrades that will attract buyers to the Onyx Edition. This model does get 20-inch wheels with a black finish to roll around on. This model adds LED foglights and goes back to black side mirrors, but it does get to keep the fancy turn signal integration gained by the Premium model. The final exterior upgrade is the addition of a power moonroof.

A heated steering wheel and synthetic leather upholstery are upgrades found inside the Onyx Edition of the new Ascent. The upholstery is water resistant, which may add appeal to families. It is important to note that the second-row bench is not available when choosing the Onyx Edition, so its seating tops out at seven.

No tech or safety features are added by this trim level. It costs a bit more than $3,000 to go up to the Onyx Edition, and it primarily makes style upgrades.

Compare the Onyx Edition vs Limited Trim. What is the difference?

The Limited model of the 2023 Ascent sticks with 20-inch alloy wheels, but they are gray rather than black. This model returns to body-colored side mirrors. Power-folding side mirrors are an available feature for the Ascent Limited.

Choosing the Limited model means getting the choice between a second-row bench and second-row captain's chairs once again. This model finally gives the front passenger a power-adjustable seat, and it also adds heat to the second row. This model has genuine leather-trimmed seats to up the luxury inside the cabin.

The Limited trim level has memory settings for both the driver's seat and the side mirrors. This is a nice touch for those who share driving responsibilities with their spouse or teenager. The Limited is the first trim level that adds third-row USB ports.

Choosing the Limited model means adding a driver distraction mitigation system. It alerts drivers if it detects that their face has turned away. This feature also monitors driving behavior for signs of distraction. This gives drivers the opportunity to refocus on the road or to pull over and take a break if need be, keeping everyone safer.

It will cost only $300 to step up to the Limited trim level from the Onyx Edition. Interestingly, there is no extra charge for swapping the second-row bench for the captain's chairs on this trim level.

Compare the Limited vs Onyx Edition Limited. What is the difference?

Based on the name of the Onyx Edition Limited, it is pretty easy to make a prediction when it comes to what features this model will have. It goes back to those 20-inch black wheels and black side mirrors, and it also reverts to black side mirrors with turn signal integration. The panoramic moonroof becomes standard once again as well. This was an optional feature for the Limited trim level of the Ascent. Buyers should be aware that the moonroof reduces the amount of headroom in the front row.

The Onyx Edition Limited goes back to the water-resistant synthetic leather upholstery. It is the first model of the Ascent to get Cabin Connect. This feature plays the voices of the front-row occupants over the third-row speakers, making communicating with the kids a bit easier. Like the standard Onyx Edition, this model is only available with seating for seven.

This trim level of the 2023 Ascent upgrades its infotainment system by adding integrated navigation. Every trim level before this one had a six-speaker sound system on its standard equipment list. For the Onyx Edition Limited, the Ascent gets fancier with a 14-speaker premium setup from Harman Kardon. This system also has an amplifier to really immerse the cabin.

The safety features remain the mostly same when choosing the Ascent Onyx Edition Limited over the standard Limited model. The only exception is the addition of a surround-view monitor. Buyers will find that the price jump is just under $4,000 here.

Compare the Onyx Edition Limited vs Passenger. What is the difference?

The Touring trim level of the Ascent has the same 20-inch dark-gray wheels that buyers will find underneath the Limited model. This is the only version of the Subaru SUV that has a satin-chrome finish on the side mirrors. It is also the only Ascent that comes standard with power-folding side mirrors. Chrome door handles further add to the top-trim look and feel of the Ascent Touring.

Like the Onyx Edition versions of the Ascent, the Touring can only have the second-row captain's chairs. The exclusive features for this trim level continue inside the cabin, where buyers will find heated and ventilated front seats. This model has Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery to further set it apart from other Ascent trim levels.

The Ascent Touring has a rear-camera display located in the rearview mirror. A 120-volt power outlet is found exclusively inside this model. Beyond that, this trim has the same tech and safety features that are found in the Onyx Edition Limited. It adds about $2,000 to the price tag. Buyers will have to decide for themselves if the few luxury upgrades made by this trim level justify the cost.  

Final Thoughts

The base model of the 2023 Ascent leaves a lot to be desired. It has a relatively low towing capacity and lacks luxury in the cabin. Stepping up to the Premium trim level more than doubles that towing capacity while also adding desirable features such as heated front seats. Drivers will likely be attracted to this model for the standard blind-spot monitoring as well.

As buyers look at higher trim levels, they find that many of the upgrades involve style more than substance. Most families can live without the cabin intercom system and ambient interior lighting. Simply put, the upper 2023 Ascent trim levels struggle to justify their price tags.

The 2023 Subaru Ascent Premium balances value with features in a way that will work well for most families.

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Previous Year Trim Configurations:

2022 Subaru Ascent Trim Levels