Subaru revealed a three-row SUV concept Wednesday at the New York Auto Show in a surprise move that signals its return to the large utility segment in 2018. Called the Ascent concept, the show car had a turbocharged boxer 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and will be revealed in production trim next fall at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The Ascent will be built in Lafayette, Ind., and is exclusive to the North American market. It will have room for up to eight passengers, offer all-wheel drive, and will be based on a modified version of Subaru's latest global platform. A hybrid is possible on those underpinnings, but a Subaru spokesman wouldn't comment on that prospect. Subaru has not had a three-row ute since the Tribeca was killed off in 2014.

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips


With Volkswagen adding the Atlas and existing SUV makers like Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda, and others all putting greater emphasis on the large utility segment, Subaru felt compelled to respond. The company also expects the Millennial generation to make up a significant portion of Ascent buyers.

"This is a product that allows that generation that grew up liking Subaru to stay with us," Subaru of America president Tom Doll said at the show.

The Ascent concept's styling cues have evolved from the previous Visiv-7 concept and offer a better look at what the production model will look like. The Ascent concept measures 198.8 inches long, 78.3 inches wide and 72.4 inches tall. The wheelbase is 117 inches - signaling Subaru is serious about competing with large SUV producers.

Subaru is spending $140 million and adding more 1,200 jobs at Lafayette to support the Ascent and bolster its US manufacturing footprint.

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