2023 Subaru Ascent SUV refreshed with new lights, upgraded tech

The 2023 Subaru Ascent three-row SUV climbs into the new year with revised front and rear ends, wireless smartphone connectivity, and improved safety technology, Subaru announced Tuesday.

Competing with family haulers that eschew sliding doors for SUV style, the refreshed Ascent faces off against recently updated models ranging from the 2023 Toyota Highlander to the 2023 Kia Telluride and 2023 Hyundai Palisade. 

Launched new for 2019, Subaru’s largest passenger vehicle sports its first major overhaul. A bar centered with the Subaru badge runs across the grille into new LED headlight housings that are sculpted like a chipped tooth. A new bumper cover sports more vertical side air intakes that also house the fog lights. Around back, new C-shaped taillights envelope the liftgate with another bar sporting the badge. 

Subaru says the 2023 Ascent comes with an enhanced version of its standard EyeSight suite of driver-assist technology. A wider angle camera works in tandem with the two cameras set high in the windshield behind the rearview mirror to expand the field of view and capture activity of cyclists and pedestrians at intersections. An electric brake booster and updated control software also make the system more comprehensive and responsive. All but the base model comes with enhanced blind-spot monitors and active lane control that steers the vehicle out of a sideswipe-type crash at speeds under 50 mph. 

2023 Subaru Ascent

2023 Subaru Ascent

2023 Subaru Ascent

The same 260-hp turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-4 powers the Ascent, and its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) simulates eight gears, and offers a manual mode with paddle shifters. The engine generates 277 lb-ft of torque, enabling the Ascent to tow up to 5,000 lb. All-wheel drive is standard. 

Standard equipment includes an 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Adaptive headlights also come standard this year. The base model rides on 18-inch alloy wheels, and has three-zone climate control, USB-A and USB-C ports, raised roof rails, and a washer for the backup camera. As ever, the Ascent has 19 cupholders and the base model seats eight passengers with second- and third-row bench seats. 

The Premium grade adds an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals. An optional package includes keyless entry and keyless start, a power liftgate, and automatic braking when in reverse. Premium shoppers can choose between the second-row bench seat or captain’s chairs for a 7-seat configuration for no extra charge. 

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx has 20-inch black alloy wheels.

The updated Onyx grade builds on the 7-seat Premium model and adds a moonroof, 20-inch black alloy wheels, and black trim pieces outside. Inside, the seats are covered in water-repellant upholstery with green contrast stitching. The X-Mode all-wheel-drive setting comes with two more settings for snow/dirt and a deep/snow mode that changes torque distribution to the wheels and numbs throttle response to limit the chance of a spin out. Available options include heated rear outboard seats, more power adjustments for the front seats, a surround-view camera system, and Harman Kardon audio. 

Building off the Premium grade and all its options, the Limited trims the interior in leather, and the driver gets a heated steering wheel and a 12-way power seat with lumbar support, while the front passenger upgrades to 4-way power adjustments. Second-row passengers get heated captain’s chairs, or owners can opt for the three-seat bench. The Limited rides on 20-inch alloy wheels and sports lower door cladding trimmed with chrome and LED fog lights.

The top Touring trim adds chrome door handles, chrome power-folding side mirrors, and a distinct black grille.

The top Touring trim adds every option mentioned above as well as chrome door handles, chrome power-folding side mirrors, and a distinct black grille. Inside, Subaru graces the Touring with wood trim and perforated leather, as well as heated and cooled front seats. 

Built in Indiana, the 2023 Ascent goes on sale late this summer. Prices will be announced closer to launch.

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