“Large” was the theme of Subaru’s press conference at the New York International Auto Show, as it presented its new Ascent Concept SUV.
Following in the footsteps of the Viziv-7 seven-passenger concept, unveiled last year at the Los Angeles show, Subaru confirmed the production version of its upcoming three-row SUV will carry the Ascent name.
It’s all about occupant space, the company said, pulling the wraps off the concept after showing a cartoon video of an astronaut family—complete with a bubble-helmeted dog—working their way throughout the three rows. The interior includes a flowing dashboard design and centre captain’s chairs.
The Ascent will ride on a modified version the company’s Global Platform first used last year, and will be built at Subaru’s plant in Indiana and sold exclusively in North America, starting in 2018. It will use an all-new turbocharged direct-injection engine and feature all-wheel-drive.
Subaru also showed off the all-new Crosstrek and revised Outback, both of which will go on sale in Canada this summer.
It’s a crowded market, and it isn’t enough for Subaru to sell itself on its all-wheel-drive alone. So the 2018 Crosstrek carries an all-new version of the current generation’s 2.0-litre flat-four engine that makes 152 horsepower, up from 148 ponies.
The base five-speed manual transmission has been replaced with a six-speed version, while the CVT that’s available on three trim levels and standard on the top-line Limited includes driver-selectable X-Mode, which helps with slippery conditions. It can also be manually shifted between seven “shift points,” using wheel-mounted paddles.
Active torque vectoring is included on all Crosstreks. It doesn’t mechanically move torque around, but rather applies light brake pressure to the inside wheel on curves to help reduce understeer.
The Crosstrek becomes the second model built on the Subaru Global Platform, and the company says it’s 70 percent more rigid than the outgoing version to improve the ride and reduce noise.
The revised lower suspension includes a stabilizer bar mounted directly to the body for better handling. The body looks more swept-back, while the nose receives a new hexagonal grille and stretched-back headlights.
Most makeovers involve a resize and the Crosstrek is no exception, but while the wheelbase extends by 30 millimetres, the overall length and width increase only slightly. It’s still going to be easy to manoeuvre and park, but there’s now more occupant space, while a wider liftgate opening makes it easier to pack items into the now-larger cargo space.
Other updates to the Crosstrek include standard Apple Carplay and Android Auto, available lane-keep assist, and a new Convenience entry-level trim.
The Outback receives new front and rear styling and upgrades to some of its engineering and design. The redesigned headlights include an LED option, and these lights swivel with the steering to better illuminate upcoming curves. The chassis has been retuned for a smoother ride, while tweaks to the steering are expected to provide more linear feel. The engineers also addressed noise issues, adding insulated glass in the side windows and a new chain in the 2.5i’s CVT to scale back the sound.
Inside, the centre console is redesigned, while there are a number of small tweaks that, while not front-page news, will be appreciated by occupants. The improved air conditioning cools the vehicle faster, interior power stays on longer when the engine is shut off, and of special interest to parents, the LATCH anchors have been revised, making it easier to install a child seat.