Subaru has been busy testing its upcoming Ascent SUV on public roads.
The all-new, three-row crossover will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week.
Despite its black camouflage the Subaru Ascent prototype provides a glimpse at the design language that will be shown on the production version. Its silhouette is consistent with current Subaru styling.
The Ascent prototype presents a long, almost wagon-like profile that is low to the ground. Its roof rails and muscular shape hint that the SUV will be plenty capable. The Ascent prototype is based on the Ascent concept from earlier this year. It tellingly resembles the Outback, Subaru’s top-seller.
The automaker is hoping its rugged roots will resonate with crossover buyers.
Subaru has found a winning formula with its generous standard equipment and go-anywhere attitude. Every current model in the brand lineup comes with all-wheel drive, save for the rear-wheel drive BRZ sports car.
Through the first 10 months of the year, total automotive industry sales have declined by 1.7 percent compared with the same period last year, according to industry research firm Autodata Corp.
Yet demand for Subarus has only increased.
The brand has sold more than 532,000 vehicles through the first 10 months of 2017, an increase of 6.4 percent compared with the same period in 2016. Sales of Subaru’s three best-selling vehicles—the Outback, Forester and XV Crosstrek—are up by 5.6 percent during that time and make up 73 percent of the brand’s 2017 sales.
The Ascent will take on competitors such as the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas. Some are established nameplates that consistently sell in large volumes.
The Ascent was spotted testing alongside a Chrysler Pacifica minivan and a Toyota Prius hybrid. Subaru is expected to offer the Ascent with a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
However, the appearance of the Prius may indicate that Subaru is planning a hybrid version of the Ascent as well. The Pacifica also comes as a plug-in hybrid.