You get to know a vehicle on a road trip. The Ascent logged its longest to date when office-mate Frank Markus took a 2,114-mile jaunt from Detroit to Memphis, Greenville South Carolina, and back.
The Ascent doesn’t have the same grunt as the Durango that made a similar trip a year earlier, but the Subaru averaged 22.4 mpg, whereas the Dodge logged 2,024 miles and averaged 18.9 mpg. That means the Ascent’s 2.5-liter turbo delivers an 18.5 percent improvement in fuel economy at a cost in 0-60 mph acceleration of just 7.8 percent, relative to the V-8 Durango. “Let’s face it, most buyers will have more opportunity to enjoy the efficiency than they will the drag-racing performance,” Markus admits. With 5,861 miles on the odometer since October, our Ascent is averaging 19.9 mpg, up 0.2 from the arrival calculation.
The three-row SUV was more than laden. It took on furniture at each stop including a chair and a 200-pound TV stand. They joined three expanded suitcases, three hanging bags, a dog cage, and assorted items. The Ascent swallowed it all, despite rear seats that don’t fold completely flat, and left a peephole to see out the back. A previous trip to buy winter tires also posed no challenge for the cargo hold. We appreciate the space under the load floor to store the cargo cover.
Not as impressive: door panel cubbies that can’t handle much beyond a large travel mug.
The third row is best used for cargo—three adults are not comfortable, but the ability to recline helps substantially. If you regularly transport seven, consider swapping second-row captain’s chairs for a bench so only two people need to squeeze into the back, which offers vastly less hip- and shoulder room.
Kudos for grab handles atop the inside shoulder of the captain’s chairs to aid the journey to the back. Entering the vehicle, assist handles are roof-rail mounted, which is not as easy to use as the B-pillar-mounted handles in the Durango.