Haul more kids (or dogs) in the 2019 Subaru Ascent crossover

News from Subaru at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show is big in more ways than one. The Japanese company filled the void left years ago by the demise of the Tribeca with a brand-new, family-friendly crossover named Ascent.

As the biggest model in the company’s history, the Subaru Ascent rides on a 113.8-inch wheelbase. Its brawny design falls in line with what buyers expect from a Subaru, while borrowing a handful of styling cues from the Ascent Concept unveiled earlier this year at the New York Auto Show. The company points out the C-shaped inserts in the headlights are inspired by the horizontal movement of the pistons under the hood. It’s what’s inside that counts, though.

In its basic configuration, the Ascent offers space for eight passengers spread out over three rows of seats. The second and third rows fold flat to clear up a cavernous 72.6 cubic feet of trunk space. If that’s not enough, Subaru’s newest crossover also comes standard with a roof rack. Buyers willing to spend more than the base model’s price tag can order individual captain’s chairs in lieu of the second-row bench seat. They reduce the seating capacity to seven, but they greatly facilitate the gymnastics of accessing the third row.

The 6.5-inch touchscreen embedded in the dashboard swells to eight inches in more upmarket trim levels. It displays the latest generation of Subaru’s StarLink infotainment system, and it’s compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. An in-car Wi-Fi connection figures on the list of extra-cost options.

To power the Ascent, Subaru designed a brand-new 2.4-liter flat-four engine equipped with direct fuel-injection. It makes 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 277 pound-feet of torque over a broad band that stretches from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm. The four-cylinder shifts through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with eight pre-programmed virtual gears the driver can select using shift paddles, and its power flows to all four wheels via Subaru’s time-tested all-wheel drive system. Hill descent control keeps forward motion in check when the Ascent embarks on a descent (sorry; far too easy).

Subaru knows its target audience well. They’re the adventurous type. To that end, it gave the Ascent a usable 8.7 inches of ground clearance and a 5,000-pound towing capacity when it’s properly equipped. The crossover is capable of driving for up to 500 miles on a tank, so you won’t need to worry about filling up for a while if your adventure takes you far off the beaten path. When you return to the pavement, rest assured the Ascent is available with Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driving aids, including adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

Built in Indiana, the 2019 Subaru Ascent will arrive in showrooms next summer. The lineup will be broken down into four trim levels called Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring. Look for a pricing announcement before then. When it lands, its main rivals will include the Volkswagen Atlas and the Honda Pilot.

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