What Is the Least Reliable Year For The Subaru Ascent?

Subaru is known for creating reliable, rugged, and adventurous vehicles, like the ever-popular Outback. 

Still, some models in the Subaru family are more reliable than others. You may have heard that the Subaru Ascent isn’t the most reliable of Subaru SUVs, but which years should you definitely avoid?

So, which is the least reliable year for the Subaru Ascent? 

What Is the Least Reliable Subaru?

The least reliable Subaru Ascent is the 2019. Since its launch in 2019, it has faced a number of problems, including transmission issues, climate system issues, and in-car electronic failures. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an unreliable vehicle compared to other SUV options. 

If you’re looking for an affordable SUV that can handle family adventures, the Ascent isn’t a bad pick.

It’s just that it doesn’t rate well on reliability when compared to other Subarus. 

Continue reading to learn more about the reasons for this. 

Why the Subaru Ascent Is the Least Reliable Subaru

Subaru launched the Ascent in 2019. 

This 3-row SUV provides drivers more space than other popular and reliable Subaru models like the Forester and the Outback. 

Unfortunately, the Ascent has had many problems since its launch, and predictions are that the newest 2022 model won’t be any better.

It just made Consumer Reports’ Least Reliable Cars list, scoring a measly 18/100 reliability points!

The question, of course, is how Consumer Reports came to their conclusion. It’s not that they don’t want to love the 2022 Subaru Ascent. 

Instead, it’s that past models of this SUV have significant problems. 

Owner complaints seem to back up Consumer Reports conclusions, with many citing issues with their Ascent’s transmission and power equipment within the car. 

Given that the 2022 model doesn’t feature a major redesign, it’s unlikely that the latest Ascent will be any better in terms of reliability.  

Subaru Ascent Issues

What Is the Least Reliable Year For The Subaru Ascent 1 What Is the Least Reliable Year For The Subaru Ascent?

It’s normal for a new car model to have a few issues. 

Since 2019 was the Ascent’s debut year, it’s not that surprising to find some problems. 

That said, some of the issues in the 2019 model were major.

For example, CVT failure seemed to happen quite a bit. 


A CVT is a continuously variable transmission. 

Unlike automatic transmissions, CVTs don’t have a set number of gears.

Instead, they use a pulley system that allows them to fluctuate between an infinite number of gears. 

In theory, this is great, and many new cars feature CVTs instead of automatic transmissions, but there can be issues with them. 

For one thing, CVTs rely on belts that can stretch. 

If they stretch too much, the entire system can fail. 

They also are more expensive to repair and replace than regular transmissions. A trained mechanic has to service them, whereas, with an automatic transmission, you might be able to get by with some DIY know-how. 

The transmission issue in the 2019 Ascent seemed to linger through 2021. 

Shifting delays, grinding acceleration, and a car that feels like it shakes are all relatively common complaints. 

And all point to issues with the CVT. 

Subaru maintains that regular maintenance will keep the transmission on the Ascent in good working order. 

They recommend checking and replacing transmission fluid every 30,000- 60,000 miles.  

Climate System, Electronics and Recalls

Many owners also cite issues with the car’s climate system. 

Sometimes the blower decided to stop seemingly out of nowhere, and for other users, it became impossible to control the air temperature. 

On top of that, there were in-car electronic failures, and some owners had issues with the brakes. 

There were also several recalls listed on 2019 models, including one for a defective drive chain. 

Another recall was a bit more serious. Defective tie rods separated from their housing which caused a loss of steering abilities. 

Unfortunately, many of the 2019 issues seemed to carry to 2020 and 2021 models. 

Though Subaru appeared to fix the climate system, power equipment problems remained. 

Owner complaints vary, but some claim power-related, in-car conveniences like the audio functions would suddenly stop. 

Others had more serious complaints. 

For example, a few reported the car came to a sudden stop in the middle of the road when their power systems failed. 

Windshield Problems 

Finally, there’s a possible issue with Subaru Ascent windshields. 

In 2019, there was a class-action lawsuit regarding the type of glass Subaru uses.

It’s possible that this glass cracks more readily than other options. 

Though the 2019 lawsuit, which includes the Subaru Ascent, has seen a motion to dismiss, other class-action lawsuits regarding the same issue have settled with Subaru. 

You might think fixing a windshield isn’t that big of a deal. 

However, Subaru uses “Eyesight Driver Assist Technology.” 

This tech can monitor traffic, optimize cruise control, and warn drivers if they veer out of their lane. 

Unfortunately, the “Eyesight Driver Assist Technology” connects to the windshield. So, if there’s a crack in the glass, the entire system will need recalibration. 

That can get expensive.  

The lawsuit purports that Subaru knows about this problem and continues to use the crack-susceptible glass anyway. 

Whether that’s true or not is a matter for the courts to decide. 

Still, the possibility of a weak windshield is something to keep in mind before purchasing an Ascent. 

Is Subaru a Reliable Car Brand? 

Compared to other car brands, Subaru is very reliable. 

They have a reputation for building cars that last, and the problems with most of them are few. 

Cars like the Outback and Crosstrek, for example, score high in reliability, and that makes sense! Vehicles like these are perfect for adventurers. 

Plus, Subaru vehicles tend to be affordable and relatively inexpensive to repair

So, even when they need a fix, it probably won’t make too big of a dent in your wallet. 

Should I Still Buy a Subaru Ascent? 

Given the list of problems with the Ascent, you might wonder if purchasing one is still a good idea.

Here’s the thing, in terms of SUVs, the Ascent isn’t so bad. 

Many SUVs have issues with reliability, and few of them are as inexpensive to repair as the Subaru Ascent. 

Several high-end, luxury SUVs, like the Mercedes GLE, fall way below the Ascent’s reliability score. 

And overall, the Ascent offers a lot of great features, like a 5000 lb. towing capacity and excellent safety ratings. 

So, if you’re seeking an affordable SUV capable of standing up to all your favorite rugged hobbies, the Ascent is a good choice, reliability scores aside. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you run out and purchase a Subaru Ascent or other equivalent vehicle, you might have a few more questions. 

Let’s see if we can answer them. 

What is the most reliable SUV? 

According to customer reviews, the most reliable SUV is the Honda HR-V. 

To be fair, though, the HR-V is a crossover SUV and doesn’t feature third-row seating. 

If you’re looking for reliability at a larger size, consider the GMC Acadia, which J.D. Power and Associates give a solid 76/100 for reliability, and 80/100 overall. 

Is Subaru more reliable than Toyota? 

Both Subaru and Toyota create exceptionally reliable vehicles in general. 

Both offer cars that can last well over 200,000 miles when you keep them maintained. 

Are Subarus expensive to own? 

According to Consumer Reports, Subarus are slightly more expensive to own than other non-luxury brands. 

However, they also offer excellent fuel economy and are inexpensive upfront, so they’re still a very affordable option.  

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