Here are The Worst Subaru Ascent Years to Avoid (Model Years Revealed)

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you in the market for a family-oriented SUV and considering the Subaru Ascent?

With its off-road capabilities and spacious interiors, it’s no wonder this vehicle has garnered attention since its debut in 2019. However, not all model years are created equal.

As you navigate the market searching for the right Ascent, it’s essential to be aware of the years that may not offer the best value for your investment.

In this article, we’ll explore the most notable reliability issues and shortcomings found in specific model years, so you can make a confident purchase decision.

From transmission issues to climate system malfunctions, certain Subaru Ascent model years have faced their fair share of challenges.

Specifically, the 2019 and 2020 Ascents have been criticized due to their numerous reported problems.

Stay informed and keep an eye out for these particular model years as you continue your search for the perfect Subaru Ascent Reliability.

Subaru Ascent Years to Avoid

Years to Avoid and Common Problems

2008 and 2009 Models

Unfortunately, I cannot provide information on the 2008 and 2009 Subaru Ascent models, as the Ascent was introduced in 2019. However, let’s discuss the 2019 Ascent and other years you should avoid.

2019 Model

The least reliable Subaru Ascent is the 2019 model. As it was the first year of production, the Ascent faced several problems:

  • Transmission issues: Some owners reported problems with the vehicle’s transmission, causing delays and sluggishness.
  • Climate system issues: There have been complaints about the Ascent’s HVAC system not working properly, affecting comfort during long drives.
  • In-car electronic failures: Some owners experienced issues with the infotainment system and other electronic features in the vehicle.

2020 Model

While the 2020 Subaru Ascent improved upon some of the initial issues, it is also a year to consider avoiding due to the following concerns:

  • Recalls: The 2020 Ascent had recalls involving a ground bolt that secures the ground terminal of the Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heater. This can lead to potential safety risks if not addressed promptly.

Keep in mind that these issues don’t necessarily mean the Subaru Ascent is a bad choice overall. Just be cautious when looking into the 2019 and 2020 models and ensure proper inspections and maintenance are performed.

Specific Issues to Be Aware Of

Transmission Issues

One common issue that has been reported in the least reliable Subaru Ascent year is 2019. You might experience transmission problems such as jerking or hesitating when shifting gears.

It is crucial to be aware of these issues when choosing a Subaru Ascent, as fixing transmission problems can be costly.

Windshield Problems

Windshield concerns are another issue to be cautious about, primarily with the 2020 Subaru Ascent.

Some users have complained that the windshield can crack easily. Make sure to inspect the windshield for any signs of past damage or weakness, as replacing a windshield can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

Battery Drain and Tailgate Sensor

Subaru Ascent models, particularly from 2019, have experienced battery drainage problems.

Erroneous tailgate sensor readings are one of the contributors to this issue. Due to a malfunctioning sensor, your vehicle’s tailgate may stay partly open, leading to battery drainage.

If you are considering purchasing a Subaru Ascent, make sure to have the battery and tailgate sensors checked out for any potential issues.

Rust Concerns

Rust issues have been reported in some Subaru Ascent years, such as the 2008-2011 and 2012-2013 Impreza models.

While specific rust concerns for Ascent models have not been widely reported, it’s essential to be vigilant when inspecting a vehicle for any signs of corrosion. Rust can affect your car’s structural integrity, aesthetics, and resale value.

Subaru Ascent Years to Avoid

One notable recall for the Subaru Ascent is related to the ground bolt of the Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heater in the 2019-2022 models.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a poorly secured ground terminal could lead to issues with the heating system.

As for safety ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet rated the 2023 Subaru Ascent.

However, the previous year’s model, the 2021 Ascent, received a Quality & Reliability rating of 80/100 according to J.D. Power. Additionally, the 2021 model had a total Consumer Rating of 82/100.

When considering NHTSA complaints, the 2021 Ascent had 34 complaints filed with no recalls at the time of writing. It’s worth mentioning that no crashes or injuries were associated with the aforementioned PTC heater ground bolt issue.

To summarize, the Subaru Ascent has experienced recalls for the 2019-2022 models in relation to the PTC heater ground bolt issue. Its safety ratings for previous years have been generally positive, with a high Quality & Reliability rating for the 2021 model.

Buying Advice for Used Ascents

Finding an affordable used Ascent might take a bit of research, but it’s crucial to balance the price with the vehicle’s reliability, maintenance history, and overall value. Here are some pointers to help you make the best decision:

  • Always check the vehicle’s maintenance records to ensure it has been well-maintained. This can give you a good idea of how reliable the vehicle has been, as well as what future maintenance might entail.
  • Ask the seller about any issues they experienced while owning the vehicle. Be sure to inquire about any recalls, repairs, or known problems with the specific model you’re considering.
  • Look for user reviews and forum discussions specific to the Subaru Ascent, such as the Subaru Ascent Forum. This will give you first-hand accounts of the model’s performance, as well as what potential problems to keep an eye out for.
  • When considering a used Ascent, it’s essential to weigh the price against the potential for maintenance and repair costs. A lower-priced, older model might seem like a great deal, but if it has history of reliability issues, it might cost you more in the long run.

Remember, a used vehicle’s price doesn’t always reflect its true value. Take time to carefully assess the Ascent’s history, condition, and potential for future issues before making your decision.

Model Variants and Features

Each trim level offers a unique set of amenities, designed to cater to your specific needs and preferences.


The Base trim is the starting point for the Subaru Ascent, offering essential features while remaining budget-friendly. Some of the key features include:

  • Symmetrical all-wheel drive
  • Seating for up to eight passengers
  • Smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system


Stepping up to the Premium trim, you’ll find upgraded features that enhance comfort and convenience. These include:

  • Larger 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Heated front seats
  • 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability
  • Blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert


The Limited trim offers a more luxurious experience by adding additional high-end features such as:

  • Leather-trimmed upholstery
  • 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Heated second-row seats
  • LED steering responsive headlights


For those seeking the pinnacle of luxury and convenience, the Touring trim is the top-tier option. It includes features like:

  • Panoramic power moonroof
  • Ventilated front seats
  • Harman Kardon premium audio system
  • 180-degree front-view camera

Onyx Edition

The Onyx Edition is a unique trim level, focusing on a distinctive appearance and exclusive features. Highlights of the Onyx Edition include:

  • Exclusive black-finish exterior trim
  • StarTex water-repellent upholstery
  • Hands-free power rear gate
  • 18-inch black-finish alloy wheels

Choose the trim level that best suits your needs and enjoy the versatile and reliable driving experience offered by the Subaru Ascent.

Subaru Ascent vs Competitors

Here, we will look at some of the Ascent’s primary competitors, including the Subaru Outback, Subaru Forester, Subaru Crosstrek, and Toyota Highlander.

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is a popular crossover with off-road capabilities and a more compact size than the Ascent.

Some advantages of the Outback are:

  • Better fuel economy
  • Easier handling due to a smaller size
  • Lower price compared to Ascent

However, some Outback drawbacks include:

  • Smaller interior capacity and fewer seating options
  • Less powerful engine

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is another option for a compact SUV within the Subaru lineup.

The Forester has some pros, such as:

On the other hand, the Forester’s cons include:

Subaru Crosstrek

Smaller than both the Outback and Forester, the Subaru Crosstrek is a subcompact crossover that offers the following benefits:

Yet, the Crosstrek comes with a few downsides:

Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is a midsize SUV that rivals the Ascent in terms of size and capabilities. The Highlander has some notable advantages, including:

  • Reputable reliability and long-lasting lifespan
  • Available hybrid version for improved fuel efficiency
  • Higher towing capacity than most Subarus

However, the Highlander also has its cons, such as:

  • Higher starting price than most Subaru models
  • Less off-road capability due to lack of standard all-wheel-drive

By evaluating the pros and cons of each competitor, you can better understand which vehicle will best suit your needs and preferences.

Expert Opinions and Resources

When looking into the Subaru Ascent, it’s essential to consider expert opinions and resources to understand which years to avoid.

Various organizations and experts, including Consumer Reports, J.D. Power,, and Kelley Blue Book, provide insightful information, evaluations, and ratings of the Ascent.

According to J.D. Power, the 2021 Subaru Ascent is a safer bet for a reliable three-row SUV.

With a Quality & Reliability rating of 80/100 and a total Consumer Rating of 82/100, you can trust this model. The 2021 Ascent also has 34 complaints and zero recalls so far, backing up its credibility.

However, the 2019-2022 Ascent models faced a recall due to a ground bolt issue. The bolt secured the ground terminal of the Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heater, which might have caused problems. It’s crucial to consider this recall when evaluating the Ascent years.

On the other hand, can give you the most common issues reported by Subaru Ascent owners. Examining this information can help you make an informed decision about which Ascent years to consider and which ones to avoid.

Kelley Blue Book is another reliable resource for car reviews and ratings. Their in-depth analysis can help you gain a better understanding of the Subaru Ascent model years and their performance.

Lastly, automotive expert Denis provides valuable insights through his articles on Torque News. His reports on Subaru Ascent reliability, recalls, and overall performance can help you make the right choice when considering this three-row SUV.

In conclusion, referring to these expert sources and resources will guide you in determining the best Subaru Ascent years and avoiding problematic ones.


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