2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx – Bottom Line Review

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: Gem of septet or octet occupant terrain clawing crossover utility. MSRP = $48k

SEPTET OF STARS HEADS FOR HILLS : Colorful geological formations, formed by intergrowth of quartz and moganite, have been mined since ancient times. These minerals are typified by contrasting black or pinkish and white bands, then sometimes dyed and always polished for adornment. Roman soldiers carried amulets made of colorful gemstones, bearing the symbol of the war deity, Mars, into battle. Expectant mothers wore them in their cleavage, for good health, when giving birth. This chalcedony of silicon dioxide was observed to resemble the contrast color banding of human finger nail, hence called “Claw.”

Japanese outdoor adventure lifestyle automaker Subaru, has a “legacy” of building vehicles which “claw” the terrain with standard all-wheel drive. The family bus sized 2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx , fulfills a destiny to shuttle each of the brand emblem’s Pleiades Seven Stars to multiple terrestrial terrains.


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WHAT: 2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx mid size three-row crossover utility vehicle built on the Subaru Global Platform WM, related to Subaru‘s Legacy sedan and Outback sport wagon. The Subaru Ascent debuted in 2018.

Standard Power: comes from the same turbocharged boxer four shared with upper trims of the Outback sport wagon. DOHC 16V DI gas flat-4 = 266 hp/ 277 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm + continuously variable transmission + asymmetrical full time all-wheel drive(viscous clutch center differential, open axle differentials, ABS torque vectoring).

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: turbo boxer-4 power topped by intercooler
2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx Edition
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price(including destination)$47,520 U.S.D.($35,120 M.S.R.P. base 2.5 S Select AWD)
Curb weight (pounds)4570 lbs.
Powertrain – petrol2.4L turbocharged 16V DOHC gas H-4
Drivetrain / Final drive ratio8-step CVT transmission, full time viscous clutch differential all-wheel drive / 4.44:1
Horsepower petrol / Torque (pound- feet)266 hp / 277 lb-ft @ 2000 r.p.m.
Fuel Economy – miles per gallon combined EPA / Range (max.)23 m.p.g. (observed)1, 443 miles (19.3 gallons)
Performance0-60 m.p.h.: 7.1 seconds; Top speed: 130 m.p.h.
Manufacturer Provided Specifications @2024 Roadblazing.com 1-20% fuel economy due to cold weather

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE(S): As a mid-termer, the 2023 Subaru Ascent exhibits tweaked exterior treatments aligned with the smaller, two-row Mk 5.1 Subaru Forester. The most apparent changes include front and rear inboard boomerang LED light assemblies and a deeper grille.

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: think stretched Subie Forester

Rugged -ized Truck -ified: Sloping & narrowing clamshell hood. Tall greenhouse; Tandem beltline & lower door creasing crease blends smoothly into flared thinner rear directional; Prominent “D” pillar kink + roof spoiler; Ruggedized dark full body + wheel arch cladding

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: Such a tidy footprint for such interior spaciousness.

ONYX” Trim Specific:

Fully darkened window frames and accents; Liftgate lower right side “ONYX” over rock emblem; 1st Row “ONYX” specific floor mats; Fully darkened grille + mid liftgate lateral accent bar; Lateral straked front clip corner fangs; Honeycomb mesh darkened lower front valance; Darkened roof rails & roof spoiler; Smoked 5-spoke alloy wheels

WHY: Octets or septets clawing in all-wheel drive semi-precious gem, all of the time.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Winter 2022-2023

WHERE: Subaru new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A.

HOW ROADWORTHY: As the heaviest, highest payload and tow rated Subaru passenger sled, the Subaru Ascent Onyx is propelled by the corporate “big guns” twin-scroll turbo flat-four punch. The torquey nature, while adequate for the class, aided by quick throttle tip-in, is beset by a CVT without sport mode ratio locking. The enthusiast could bother with the manumatic console lever or steering wheel dorsal shift paddles to hasten the pace. Such efforts, however will never come close to bouncing off the rev limiter.

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: X-Drive media display of power flow + off road pitch & roll status
  • +1 Dual function X-Mode multi-terrain control(Onyx, Limited, Touring) =  Snow, dirt / Deep Snow, mud
  • -1 Gotta delve into the touch access Starlink media display to select X-Modes
  • -1 Idle start/ stop is a shaker; Grittier sound of the 2.4T versus a naturally aspirated 2.5L flat-4.

The boxer engine unique Symmetrical All-Wheel drive is always served by Subaru (save for BRZ). In the Subaru Ascent Onyx nominal full time torque split, front to rear = 60:40%, while the maximum spread is at 50:50. Going uphill, selectable X-Mode cuts wheel slippage by applying ABS earlier. On the downhill approach, X-Mode uses VDC signaled ABS to simulate low gearing, something that can be supplemented by dorsal steering wheel shift paddles.

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx Edition
Ground clearance (inches)8.7″
Approach / Departure / Breakover angles (degrees)17.6o / 21.8o / 18.2o
Suspension F/RF: Strut + lower L arm / R: 4-link; F+R sway bars, dampers, coil springs
Tires / Wheels245/50-H Falken Ziex XE001 A/S M+S / 20″ bronzed alloys / doughnut spare tire
Brakes F/RF&R 1-Piston Sliding calipers 13.1″ vented Disc/ 13.0″ vented Disc; ABS; EBD; Pre-braking, Hill Start control
Off road driving assistanceDual X-ModeTM AWD: Trail Mode (ABS torque vectoring)
Manufacturer Provided Specifications @2023 Roadblazing.com

Being the premium black-out treatment trim level, the 2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx is suspended for touring comfort, from the quiet all season tires, soft spring rates for trail articulation, and damping which is gentle on the minds and hinds until a wheel dips into pavement breaks. The boxer powerplant and segment relatively low roof height maintain offer reasonably sharp turn in, though bereft of road to steering sensation. Brake component specs are up to snuff, although pad release on a crawl dispatches a groan, and pedal action is somewhat mushy.

HOW FAR: 23 combined miles per gallon fuel economy; 443 miles estimated maximum range

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: 5 Occupant 2+3 seating. Tilt reclining 60/40 split flat folding Row 2 seatbacks.

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: decent for 2 average adults 3rd row seats w/ USB x 2

Forester legacy = the low cowl, low beltline delivers on a spacious sensation. Outboard armest integrated door pulls makes benefits egress swing. Tall, rectilinear profile & seating perch affords abundant headroom & Row 2 legroom.

– For Comparison’s Sake:

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx Edition2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD
Wheelbase (inches)113.8″112.2″ TNGA-GAK
Length x Width x Height (inches)196.8″ x 76.0″(86.1″ w/ mirr.) x 71.6″192.5″ x 76.0″(86.1″ w/ mirr.) x 68.1″
Headroom Row 1/ 2/ 3 (inches)40.0″ / 37.8″ / 36.2″39.8″/ 37.8″/ 35.9″
Legroom Row 1/ 2/ 3 (inches)42.2″ / 38.6″ / 31.7″44.2″/ 38.4″/ 27.7″
Curb Weight (pounds)4570 lbs.4595 lbs.
Cargo Capacity (nom. – max. cubic feet)17.6 cu.ft. – 42.1 cu.ft. – 72.8 cu.ft. 13.6 cu.ft. – 42.0 cu.ft. – 83.2 cu.ft.
Towing (pounds)5000 lbs.3500 lbs.
Manufacturer Provided Specifications @2023 Roadblazing.com

HOW USEFUL: A Forester hallmark of upright tall-roofed cabin and squared off cargo bay assure space aplenty. Load height is at a good comfort zone. Accessing the roof rails is but a slight stretch. Deeply channeled accessory cargo mats are adventure de rigeur.

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: small nominal cargo bay expands + subfloor bin

Power Liftgate; 60/40% split folding 2nd Row seat backs; Cargo bay floor chrome hook anchors; Cargo bay wall ring-style hooks; Cargo-area 12V outlet; +1 Low cowl and and power folding rear outboard headrests aid outward view;

Cabin storage = Steep declining lower center stack handheld device bin; 8 cup, 11 bottle holders

  • +1 Tall + wide liftgate cargo load aperture w/ minimal wheel arch intrusion; Both first row seatbacks have aft pockets
  • -1 Short door pockets

HOW SAFE: 10 airbags; IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; Rear camera w/ predictive grid; -1 Mini spare doughnut tire

Partial Autonomous Driving:

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: surround camera park assist, perimeter scan + EyeSight ADAS settings

EYESIGHT suite STANDARD on all models = Pedestrian & vehicle collision avoidance braking; Blind Spot View monitor; Rear cross traffic alert; Full adaptive cruise control; Lane departure warning, trace assist;  Post collision brake lock; Row 2 occupant reminder; Auto high beam LED headlamps; Driver Focus incapacitation assistance

Optional (included on tester): Reverse obstruction automatic braking; 360 Surround camera + rear camera spray washer & Perimeter view

  • +1 Accurate lane tracking, above-head console system activation / de-activation switches
  • -1 Slow to resume speed adaptive cruise control

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: 2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx does the brand’s REI seating area semi luxe. Olive drab plush parts come bordered with stark canary yellow contrast stitching. Credit the cream colored headliner for the enhanced sensation of spacious. Instrumentation sticks with tried and true white backlit ELD twin dial analog split by a busy LED trip / function meter. A large gloss portrait LCD media display fills the center stack, retaining rotary audio volume & tuning knobs, while digitizing climate settings. In idiosyncratic Subaru form, a steering wheel spoke hanging chad remains for steering heat switches between the right side horizontal and vertical spokes.

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: plush paneled driver entry

Heated,  power adjust 12-way driver, 4-way front passenger seats, w/ manual knee extenders, 2-setting driver’s memory; 4 power windows w/ full up/ down express; 3-Zone auto climate control + 2nd Row digital climate adjust; Heated leather tilt/ telescoping steering; 2nd Row heated seats; 2nd Row and aft dark tint privacy glass; Door puddle lamps x 4; Panoramic power moon-roof; 1st Row overhead console retracting sunglass bin + cabin mirror

Cool Gizmo(s): X-Mode display within Starlink 11.6″ center console media screen; Cabin Connect driver to cabin intercom; Facial scanner w/ driver recognition personalization

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: traditional analog gauges + modern oversized embedded tablet display

Details Done Right: Contrasting olive + beige, contrast stitched, water resistant Star-Tex leatherette seating; Leatherette upper door panels, dash top + yellow border stitching; Brushed metallic accents + door switch tips; Flush door and center console toggle switchgear; Mouse fur lined glovebox, center console bin; Berber floor mats; Contrasting beige mesh headliner.

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard door pocket linings; Coarse plastic rocker panel covers; Hard plastic center console casing; Thin cargo bay carpet.


center stack embedded 11.6″ inch Starlink portrait, pane-swipe, touch LCD infotainment screen; Rotary audio volume dial, selection, defroster & Home screen switches ; Bluetooth, hands-free communications; SMS messaging; TomTom voice command/ guidance 3-D HDD + Cloud GPS navigation(3 yrs. OTA Updates); wireless Android Auto + Apple CarPlay projection; Starlink Apps; USB-A x 3, USB-C x 3, 12V x 3, Audio auxiliary jack x 1; Mobile device near field communications (NFC)

2023 Subaru Ascent Onyx AWD: voice command + guided TomTom native GPS navigation
  • +1 High definition color graphics; Fairly oleophobic display screen

Audibly Speaking: 14 speaker, 792 Watts, Harman Kardon Clari-Fi, Quantum Sound = decent spatial sensation, flat highs, volume needs some cranking


Applications (mobile powered): Starlink Apps: Chimani, an onboard guide to landmark travel; Ebird ornithological identifier favoring Audubon members; Eve Connect monitors connected home security and climate.

By Subscription: SiriusXM (90 days trial) ; Sirius TravelLink apps (3 years included)

HOW MUCH: $47,520 = as tested 2023 Ascent Onyx AWD suggested retail price($35,120 base trim)

WHAT’S MISSING: Hybrid electric powertrain option; Less media display sunwash; Fewer cargo bay rattles; Less neurotic momentary driver in-attention warning

ANY COMPETITION: Kia Telluride: +1 V-6 power, large for class 3rd Row; Toyota Highlander: +1 ride compliance, available hybrid & PHEV

BOTTOM LINE: Each of Pleiades Seven Stars finds a seat on a shuttle to multiple terrestrial terrains.

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