Sharing our Ascent Updates and Feedback

2020 Ascent Limited 7 Passenger
41,500 mi.

This post spans categories but many of the updates are accessories. Many thanks to those on the forum who have posted their feedback and experiences with a number of these items. Passing on some of our experiences in hopes others find them useful.

Our other vehicle is a 2015 Outback 3.6R. Have also owned a 2007 Outback (the best car I have ever owned) as well as Hondas and VWs.


  • Primarily family hauler, 2 kids, no pets. Occasional use of 3rd row.
  • Road trips within and outside Wisconsin
  • Car camping, bike/canoe/kayak/etc.,
  • Haul utility trailers for various needs
  • Off-road/soft-road includes forest roads, undeveloped camping areas, fields/farm roads, rocky mountain roads.
  • Gets us to remote places on remote roads to meet up with nobody



  • As reported elsewhere on this forum the factory-supplied Falken tires are poor.
  • At 15K mi and wearing fast (down to 4/32”) we replaced the tires and wheels.
  • Selected Falken Wildpeak A/T Trails from Tire Rack paired to 18” wheels.
  • Price: $178/tire when purchased in July 2021 have increased to $214/tire today (20% increase)
  • On-road handling/ride: Good. Noise: Very low. MPG: No difference. Stopping: Sufficient dry, no concerns in wet/snow. Snow/Ice: Very good. Off-road/puncture resistant: Excellent.
  • Have been so good in the snow I have waited on purchasing a set of winter tires to pair with the 20” OEM wheels.
  • Recommend these tires. Pair with 18” wheels if you’re off-roading and need the extra sidewall.


Rear cargo interior lighting

  • As noted in many other posts, the rear hatch area has insufficient lighting.
  • We installed LED lights in the rear hatch AND an LED strip above the opening. Several posts here have product suggestions and installation instructions.
  • Our LED light strip came from Diode Dynamics and the hatch light from JB Autosports.

Trailer Hitch / Brake controller

  • Get the Subaru OEM hitch as recommended many times on this forum for very good reasons. Install it yourself if you are handy, or have a reputable shop/dealership do it. I made the mistake of first installing an aftermarket hitch and regretted it. Replaced it with the OEM. The extra $ is worth it.
    • NOTE: OEM hitch receiver is not deep enough for some attachments/hitches.
  • Brake controller is on my to-do list.

Mud flaps / Splashguards

  • Ordered these from Weather Tech. They are rigid and durable. Easy to install. Recommend.

Lift kit

  • Considered and dismissed – not enough off-road to warrant it

Sound system upgrade

  • Our Ascent has the basic set up which is passable. Requested the upgrade to Rockford Fosgate (new amp/speakers/processor) with purchase but the dealer couldn’t make it happen
  • Our 2015 Outback 3.6R Harmon Kardon system is noticeably better, of course.
  • Upgrade is on my to-do list.

Starlink subscription

  • Remote start/location services/emergency services/etc.
  • Intro price is worth it due to the discount. Annual price is steep.
  • Cold Wisconsin winters tip the scales (to warm up the car).
  • I can live without it but my better half will not.

Cold climate package

  • Heated seats/heated steering wheel/heated windshield wipers.
  • If you live in a cold climate and appreciate these things you’ll need this package.


  • Ordered and self-installed triple package from Primitive Racing.
  • Skidplates are available from other companies. We went with these due to price, coverage (3 plates), and from recommendations on this forum.
  • Front skid plate (no add-on lip), mid-armor transmission plate, and rear plate.
  • Was sent some incorrect parts but the company sent correct parts by request.
  • Install these yourself if you’re handy and know how to safely work under a vehicle. If not, get a reputable shop to do it.
  • We haul family and friends through conditions that could puncture the oil pan or hammer the transmission and could end a trip miles from cellular service. These create confidence through safety.
  • They are also piece of mind in urban environments where road debris could cause problems.
  • Unnecessary for most folks.
  • Recommend for occasional or regular off/soft-roaders.

Rooftop Rack / Cross Bars / Storage

  • We use the top of the vehicle to carry multiple kayaks, small canoes, large canoes, lumber, Christmas Trees, grandma, and/or a large travel bag
  • Researched the Subaru cross bars and dismissed as they would not meet our needs for length
    • Explored Thule/Yakima and dismissed due to price.
    • Purchased Malone Airflow2 Aerobar Roof Rack For Raised Rails 65” from eTrailer. They’re aluminum with multiple attachment methods, lockable, and easy to remove/attach. Recommend.
  • We explored multiple rooftop storage systems (box/bag/racks) and settled on an Amazon Essentials waterproof bag.
    • It’s been great for us. Size is good. Has been through several major rainstorms at 65mph+ and everything stayed dry. Attachment system is well done for the price. Recommend.
    • Note: We are placing this bag directly on the roof and attached at 8 points to the roof rails. I recommend folks put their bag on a rack as recommended in various places. You will dent, scratch, etc. your roof like I do and probably void a roof rack claim warranty if something goes sideways.
  • ECOTRIC Kayak Roof J-Racks. They work for us and have lasted 3 seasons. Recommend you buy higher quality.
  • I have Yakima KeelOver Canoe mounts that attach nicely to the Malone cross bars. They work well for canoes, lumber or a multitude of other things you want to hold in place. Recommend, but cheaper versions exist.

Safety / Gear / Misc.

  • Integrated camp kitchen, exterior mounted jerry cans, A/V systems, CB radio? Not for us.
  • All weather mats – Subaru’s version are great.
  • Mounted a marine grade multi-type fire extinguisher to the 3rd row window well. For out of control camp stove fires, fiery wrecks (not mine), etc. Mount it solidly and out of the way (but accessible) if you do this.
  • Snacks/first aid kit/tools/games/other emergency supplies
  • Tire repair kit and foam

Final thoughts

  • The Ascent needs a full size spare.
  • 19.3 gallon gas tank is not large enough
  • CVT / Turbo combo needs refinement (I’m told in later models it’s better)
  • The CVT / 3.6R in our 2015 Outback is excellent and more enjoyable to drive. (obviously no turbo and the Ascent weighs 2 Grizzly bears more so not an apples to apples comparison)
  • Buying and installing lighting for the cargo area should not have been needed. This was an oversight in design.
  • Infotainment: Keep some buttons. Screens / menus can’t do everything well.
  • Eyesight is as advertised for our 2020 version. I’d like to compare to a 2023. We’ve turned off all the beeping to the maximum possible and never use lane keep assist.
  • It’s August right now and I wish we had the ventilated front seats.
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