Subaru Launches Production Of Ascent Crossover In Indiana

Subaru began production Monday of the new Ascent, its much-anticipated three-row crossover, at its plant in Lafayette, Ind. It’s set to arrive at dealers in June as a 2019 model and will start at $32,970, including shipping.

The Ascent joins the Impreza, Legacy and Outback as vehicles built at the plant. It’ll compete with three-row utility vehicles like the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas. (Read our comparison of the Ascent to the former two here.)

Subaru built around 364,000 vehicles at the Indiana plant last year and expects the Ascent to nudge that up to around 400,000 vehicles a year. The automaker spent $140 million and added 1,200 jobs at Lafayette to support the Ascent.

The company in late 2016 shifted production of the Impreza sedan and hatchback to the factory, its lone manufacturing site outside of Japan, to free up room at its plant in Gunma Prefecture for the hot-selling Crosstrek, which has been singlehandedly lifting Subaru’s U.S. sales lately.

A Subaru spokesman told Autoblog recently that the company hopes to sell 60,000 Ascents in the first year and had already booked more than 4,000 sold orders on the vehicle from customers who hadn’t seen or driven it.

The Ascent will come in either seven- or eight-seat configurations, is offered in all-wheel-drive and is based on a modified version of the same Subaru Global Platform that underpins the Impreza. It’s powered by an all-new 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer four-cylinder that makes 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. It fills a slot formerly occupied by the Tribeca, Subaru’s last three-row vehicle, which was discontinued in 2014.