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Honda Pilot VS Subaru Ascent

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We are strongly considering a Pilot EX and are also considering the Highlander (and possibly even the Odyssey w/o the 9 speed transmission). I have recently started hearing more about the new Subaru Ascent with all the news coming out of the LA International Auto Show. Does anyone have thoughts on how this vehicle will compare with the Pilot - pros and cons? So far, the initial information sounds positive - reliable AWD system, solid safety features and good reliability. Thanks!
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When Top Fuel Dragsters use CVTs, then we'll have one that can truly handle high torque (at least for a few seconds).
Top fuel dragsters use a series of timed clutches, not a transmission with a series of gears like we car folks are used to. We are more than likely at some point all going to have to accept the 4 cylinder CVT in SUV's.
 

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Top fuel dragsters use a series of timed clutches, not a transmission with a series of gears like we car folks are used to. We are more than likely at some point all going to have to accept the 4 cylinder CVT in SUV's.
Maybe not entirely true combined, but I think one or the other (or both for some) will be in most of these SUVs. Some automakers (Hyundai/Kia for one) have come out against the CVT in pretty much all applications except hybrids. But I see most following this turbo 4 infatuation, losing refinement and reliability along the way... I'm assuming the next gen Pilot will have a turbo 4, if not as the only engine at least as an option... most likely the 2.0T from the Accord, maybe retuned for higher torque. I think Honda will stick with the geared automatic in this application, they feel the "premium" model buyers (basically anything north of $30k) want geared automatics instead of CVTs.
 

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Forgive me for sounding snarky, but if you had bothered to read my whole entire message, you would've seen that I have indeed driven Subaru CVTs and I am well in my rights to say its not smooth. Just like Pilot owners are to be able to say they don't like the tranny and idle stop. I can also complain of the lack of a smooth wonderful sounding V6. Also, not every single car is going to have a problem. Plus, your first year Subarus were designed when there wasn't a lot of technology. Just look at the new Impreza on Consumer Reports. It gets a Below Average reliability score. Oh, and with the 3.6 L V6, it isn't always about performance, its sometimes about the smoothness and sound of it.
You have every right to sound snarky, because admittedly my response was a bit snarky too. :) That said, I take some offense to you telling me I didn't bother to read your entire post. I actually read it several times before responding. I still do not see anywhere that you said explicitly that you had significant experience driving/testing Subaru CVT's. You did say "I feel like Subaru's highlights how loud and knarly a 4 cylinder can sound" which does imply you've been in one but I inferred it more as a passing observation than solid experience. It was later in your post where you admitted "I can't truly comment on Subarus, because I have only owned GMCs and Cadillacs" that made me question how much experience you had with Subaru CVTs.

I will say that the CVT in the Subaru Impreza/Crosstrek gets a bad rep because the 2.0L engine is underpowered and the CVT has to rev a lot to make up for it. But the CVT is actually good -- it has great low and high ratios and isn't as whiny as most CVTs. It's even further improved in the new '17 Impreza/'18 Crosstrek and now simulates shift points to eliminate the CVT drone sound when holding an optimal RPM under acceleration. The Subaru Forester and Outback are even better examples of how good their CVT is when mated to the more capable 2.5L engine.

So, I am pretty confident that I can complain about Subaru and that there is probably going to be some problems.
The main reason for my prior snarky reply was to challenge your "guarantee" that the new Ascent "is going to have many problems." I totally get that this site is all about opinions, but those are strong words so I challenged it. Yup, Consumer Reports dinged to the new Impreza because of some bugs in the infotainment. That's true, but CR needs to differentiate that from true mechanical issues. The infotainment issues are addressed with software updates, and a variation of that same system will be in the Ascent, so I expect the infotainment in the Ascent to be rock solid. I would not hesitate to buy the first Ascent off the truck from Lafayette.
 

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Maybe not entirely true combined, but I think one or the other (or both for some) will be in most of these SUVs. Some automakers (Hyundai/Kia for one) have come out against the CVT in pretty much all applications except hybrids. But I see most following this turbo 4 infatuation, losing refinement and reliability along the way... I'm assuming the next gen Pilot will have a turbo 4, if not as the only engine at least as an option... most likely the 2.0T from the Accord, maybe retuned for higher torque. I think Honda will stick with the geared automatic in this application, they feel the "premium" model buyers (basically anything north of $30k) want geared automatics instead of CVTs.
I think the trend will also include basic electric hybrid added to the smaller engines (even 3 cylinders for cars?). The addition of motor(s) adds regenerative braking, acceleration boost for the smaller engine, and computer smoothing of the acceleration profile. These three benefits can be added with only minimal battery/capacitor packs.

Regarding CVTs:
I'm fine with them if they are reliable. I quite like the CVT in my 2013 Accord EXL 4cyl
 

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Totally agree about the trend toward electrification, and that may eventually render mechanical drivetrains obsolete. But not for a while, and Acura is doing something interesting with their "Sport-Hybrid": three electric motors with a DCT. Electric AWD with torque vectoring. But Acura doesn't recommend towing with their hybrid drivetrain, and that's kind of a downer for an "SUV".
 

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I think the trend will also include basic electric hybrid added to the smaller engines (even 3 cylinders for cars?). The addition of motor(s) adds regenerative braking, acceleration boost for the smaller engine, and computer smoothing of the acceleration profile. These three benefits can be added with only minimal battery/capacitor packs.

Regarding CVTs:
I'm fine with them if they are reliable. I quite like the CVT in my 2013 Accord EXL 4cyl
All of this talk makes me long for the days I drive my '61 Impala. I understand the mileage and environmental benefits of the car (well, unless you look at life cycle of everything on the car, like the batteries) but I long for the simplicity of operation and maintenance that older cars bring.

And CVT's can be great when tuned well and paired with the right engine for the application. As I've said before, we drove new Pathfinders and were thoroughly impressed. Our Rogue was a whiney dog.
 

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I've owned 4 Honda, 1 Acura. Recently 2015 Subaru Legacy their 1st-year model, only recall was the small glass and door seal that affect wind noise. 1.2yr I traded it in for the same car 2016 fully loaded with eye-sight, it's been 1.5yr no issue. Both were 2.5i model, drive around town is very fun and feel sporty from few passenger reaction. I definitely love it over my cousins 08 Benz E350 and C300 that I tried to floored it, seems so laggy and doesn't feel sporty at all compare to my 2.5i. Only complains I have is their climate control goes full blast even though there's only 3-8degree different from the cabin in outside. I do hear the 2.5i engine roaring at any moment if I have the radio off. That I should of went with the H6, but I choose 2.5i twice due to mpg. As I already has bad mpg on my 08 pilot, I don't want another gas guzzler. I have been waiting for Subaru to release a 7-8 seater 3 years ago. I've even gone test drove the QX80, I didn't like the 09-15 and the crappy 4WD. I'm quite impressed with the new improved 2016+ AWD system, but I still trust Subaru's AWD system more as it has been their standard option and a few of their models did make it to the top 10 reliable cars. At this point, we're looking at either a used 2014+ Benz GL450 4Matic with DISTRONIC PLUS or a fully loaded Subaru Ascent. I was so into it when we saw the announcement back in April 2017 if they going to keep those chrome trims and dual exhaust. Me and my wife sure going to pre-order it, but when it came to announcing the production release really disappointed us. We do like the luxury looks of the concept that we were seeking at the Benz GL450. Now we're at 60% leading toward a used GL450 that we were searching for the right color and option 2yrs now and we do still have plenty of time to make our final decision. As I took really good care of our 08 Pilot, so it would keep us away from a monthly note for a while until we need a 3rd car.
 

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When I heard about and then researched the Suburu Ascent, I almost decided to hold off on my new EX-L purchase. But... tomorrow I go get my brand new 2017 EX-L. The decision for me was "Buy a new Pilot now or spend $500 on new tires for my 2005 160K miles Pilot and wait for the Ascent. Or consider other options."

My personal experiences with Suburus are as follows. I had one many years ago. A version called the GL Wagon that I think ended up getting replaced by the Outback. That car was awesome. Handled well, Held a lot. Friends teased me being a young guy with what was kind of a station wagon. But when someone needed to move, beers were always offered for me to help. And somehow, I ended up driving to most of the ski trips. It was a solid, reliable car then. Sadly, it was destroyed in a head on collision. Which I walked away from. The car's crumple zones did their job. Utterly destroyed. Except for the passenger cabin. I was banged up pretty good, but zero serious injuries. Now, we own a 2015 Outback, (wife's car). It's also awesome. Great in snow, it's been reliable, comfortable, kid friendly, etc. Really, really like this brand.

So why not hold out for the Ascent? Two main reasons: 1) While I'm a Honda Pilot fan, I'm not a test pilot. I have a lot of confidence the Ascent will be a perfectly fine new release. But I don't personally feel like waiting until late summer to see if I can even get one and maybe there are problems. 2) The Honda Pilot, (among many other long released cars), have aftermarket parts and accessories for just about anything you can imagine. (Well, except maybe for the 'perfect' rear cargo mat with easy access to the storage bin.) Anyway, It'll take some time for the industry to catch up here. There might be a third reason... if it turns out I love the Ascent, I can always get one in 5-7 years or so once I've got more data.

Here's one thing for sure though: Honda, Nissan, Jeep all better be looking super carefully at this vehicle. When I saw it, I wanted it. Yeah, it looks ok, but it's got all the right specs and my experience with that brand has been great. We'll see how my new EX-L works out in the meantime.
 

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2016 CRV Touring AWD, 2005 Pilot RIP.
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Be interesting to do a back to back drive using say the CRV LX, equipped with the 2.4 naturally aspirated engine versus the Turbo 1.5 powered version. Similar outputs, both running the same CVT.... Always read that the Turbo does better at altitude.
 

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Just caught this thread and I'm late to the party but here goes,focus group guy listen in.

Subaru has a lot of core values similar to Honda so to cross shop both is easy to understand.....we are in the market for a new SUV, so lets go to the Subie showroom.

Ok its just me going in.....wifey doesn't get the Subie culture but I assure her that we will and all will be well with the world,after all she likes dogs I like biking,we are the Subaru demographic!

So before the demo I like to just take the car in and look at it....OK its a suv not a sports car, but the looks are alright,pretty decent, so we are not buying it for its looks then..ok onto the interior.
The inside is pleasant,some leather on the seats the plastic isn't too prominent although its seems a bit small in here for a family of 4 on a road trip ? but overall it ok in here.

Well its going to be economical then?,4 cylinder turbo motors can put the power down and get still get 30 mpg? well maybe in tests they do but what about real world turbo lag? and replacing the turbo when its old?

So there isn't anything I'm latching onto to get me to want the thing! its not doing anything better than the competition the whiff of utilitarian is mostly gone but the one thing I would like to test,I cannot unfortunately.

I will give Subaru a pass on its AWD ,if we were doing some off roading course in the hills somewhere I would be impressed,but I live in suburban environment where 4WD is valid for 10 days a year.

So it leaves me wanting and into the Honda showroom we go to get a Pilot,I,m sure the Ascent will evolve and get better probably with electric assist to help the 4 banger and a tweak here and there.
 

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Consumer Reports has the 2019 Subaru Ascent as their new #1 pick, knocking the Highlander out of the top spot. Has anyone checked out this Ascent recently? If so, what were your thoughts? How's it compare to the 2019 Pilot in your opinion?
 

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Discussion Starter · #79 ·
I'm the OP from one year ago and wanted to revive this thread for additional updated input. We are still strongly considering the Toyota Highlander LE+, Honda Pilot EX and Subaru Ascent Premium. Our need is for an AWD vehicle to replace our 2000 Honda Odyssey when it dies. It's been an amazing vehicle but now has 223K and is 19 years old. Though not in immediate need, we are doing our homework so we are ready to move ahead quickly when that day arrives (we also have a 2008 Honda CRV AWD). Here's my dilemma: I'm still somewhat partial to Honda but am concerned about the reliability plus VCM concerns, timing belt replacement, and apparent decline in quality. With Toyota, the 3rd seat is small, the 8 speed transmission is not loved, and the design is older... but the overall reliability appears to be intact. Just the other day I test drove a Subaru Ascent and was impressed (features, handling, safety). My concerns with Subaru include the long-term reliability of the new turbo and the CVT plus the fact that it is a first-year design...despite the #1 ranking by Consumer Reports. I read forums on all three vehicles so I realize no vehicle is perfect but want to spend our money wisely since this is a big purchase decision for us. I would appreciate any thoughts on the three vehicles and also if anyone has inside knowledge when the next Highlander re-design will happen (and potential improvements). Thanks for your help.
 

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If you are using the 3rd row for anything other than children, the Highlander has to be an automatic rule-out. Honestly, I don't see the Highlander as competing with the Pilot, more like the Sorento, Sante Fe XL and similarly tiny 3rd row vehicles.

I have not driven an Ascent but have seen them around and they are good looking to my eyes. But I also think the Pilot's refresh is a stunning improvement on a design I did not like previously. Honestly, based on my loyalties and the fact that Honda (again, in my eyes) improved the faulty design so much I would probably go with the Honda. Yes, there are timing belts to replace and some VCM complainers but Subaru still hasn't fixed their head gasket issues so I'm not giving either an edge in perceived long term reliability.
 
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