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What’s the Best 2021 Subaru Ascent Trim? Here’s Our Guide

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Subaru is famous for building durable, go-anywhere vehicles, and the Ascent brings that capability to a larger size. With room for up to eight passengers, the 2021 Subaru Ascent is an AWD three-row crossover that competes in a highly crowded and competitive field. If you’re wondering which Ascent has the best balance of features and value, keep reading for our trim review.

2021 Subaru Ascent Base Trim Pros and Cons

The base Ascent trim level features Subaru’s excellent 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four, producing 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. We’ve found this engine to be decidedly punchy, beating the Toyota Highlander’s V-6 in the quarter mile, and delivering performance numbers similar to a V-8-powered Dodge Durango. Naturally, straight-line performance isn’t why you buy a three-row crossover, but when there are eight passengers (and their luggage) aboard, that power is most welcome. A 2,000-pound towing capacity is standard, which requires only a $499 hitch to unlock the capability.

This being a Subaru, AWD is standard on every trim level. This gives it a leg up over rivals like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, where the option is another $2,000. On paper, the Ascent has the best fuel economy, with a decent 21/27 mpg city/highway rating compared to the AWD Highlander (20/27) and Pilot (19/26), but in reality, we struggled to reach the combined estimate during our year-long test. Part of this can be attributed to the 20-inch wheels on the Limited trim, which dings fuel economy to 20/26 mpg. Our average still didn’t live up to projections, however.

Look beyond the performance to find things like swiveling LED headlights with automatic high-beams, tri-zone automatic climate control, and adaptive cruise control with lane assist and centering. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available through the 6.5-inch Starlink touchscreen system. All in all, it’s a well-equipped base trim level.

2021 Subaru Ascent Premium Trim Pros and Cons

Moving up to the Premium trim requires a $2,500 commitment, but it’s also a notable upgrade in features. Towing capacity increases to 5,000 pounds, and in our long-term test, we found that the Ascent was more than up to the task, pulling trailers and boats with ease. Cold-weather owners will appreciate the heated seats, mirrors, and windshield wiper de-icer, although the upgraded leather-wrapped steering wheel misses out on heating.

The Premium also gains an eight-way power driver’s seat, tinted privacy glass, and rear-seat climate controls, while the Starlink infotainment touchscreen grows to 8.0 inches and features voice control capability. A suite of connected services features concierge and vehicle assistance with the touch of a button, provided you opt in for the subscription.

2021 Subaru Ascent Limited Trim Pros and Cons

This is the trim we picked for our long-term test, which gains 20-inch wheels (and loses 1 mpg in both city and highway estimates). The larger wheels didn’t hamper the Ascent’s off-road ability, however, thanks in part to the 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

In addition to the larger wheels, the $5,000 premium for the Limited trim also adds a 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar and extendable thigh support, which is great for long-distance trips. Seating surfaces are in leather, the second-row seats are heated, and the steering wheel is finally heated. This luxury-focused trim also features an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Homelink, proximity entry and ignition, and rear door sunshades.

For many, the addition of a power liftgate might be worth the upgrade. That said, if you can live without the heated wheel and leather, the power liftgate is also available in a $1,460 option package on the lower Premium trim, along with proximity key and auto-dimming mirror.

2021 Subaru Ascent Touring Trim Pros and Cons

Opting for Touring demands a near-$6,000 jump from Limited, which equates to a tremendous $13,000 premium over the base trim. To be fair, Touring pulls out all the stops in an attempt to justify its price. Here you’ll find a 120-volt power outlet, ambient interior and floor lighting, a power sunroof, and higher-grade leather on the steering wheel. Leather seats are available in your choice of Java Brown or Slate Black, and the front seats are also ventilated.

The Touring also piles on the tech, including a front-view camera and a camera-based rearview mirror. You’ll also find satellite navigation, rain-sensing wipers, and a 14-speaker stereo system. It’s an impressive collection of features, but not worth the substantial coin required.

So Which 2021 Ascent Model Is Best?

The Ascent Premium offers the best combination of amenities at an attractive price point. Many of the desired features found at higher trim levels can be added as options, including the 14-speaker stereo, satellite navigation, and power sunroof. While leather and that all-important heated steering wheel are exclusive at the Limited trim and above, we’d still go for the Premium and add options from there.

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Tesla Model S Plaid Fast-Charging and Range Test: How Far Can It Go?

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When the now popular Tesla Model S electric car was first introduced in 2012, there were no Superchargers available. Today, there are 25,000 Tesla Superchargers around the world, and with the Model S Plaid adopting a new powertrain, Tesla was able to re-design the battery to take advantage of the third-gen 250-kW Supercharger. Despite Tesla still using the 18650 form-factor cylindrical battery cells, these now have improved chemistry to deliver higher performance and durability. (This is the fourth major chemistry improvement since the first Model S.) With it newest 100-kWh battery pack, Tesla claims the Plaid can recover 187 miles of driving range in 15 minutes of charging at a V3 Supercharger. But just how realistic is that claim in practice? 

First, a little background on charging an EV in general. Many factors are in play to determine the charging performance, from ambient temperature to battery temperature to state of charge to charging station type. As a result, charging rates do vary in practice. Lithium-ion batteries have a certain working temperature range, typically 40-130 degrees Fahrenheit, and the higher end of the range is typically conducive to rapid charging. For an electric car that has sat unplugged overnight or in cold weather, charging time is prolonged. In a Tesla, when a driver puts a Supercharger into the navigation as its destination, the car preconditions the battery pack for rapid charging before it reaches the plug.  This helps to deliver a more consistent rapid-charging experience and eases congestion at charging sites. 

The V3 Supercharger

In our testing, with a preconditioned battery pack and an ambient temperature of 71 degrees, the Tesla Model S Plaid needed 51 minutes to charge from 5 to 95 percent, which added 87 kWh. The latter figure indicates the usable battery capacity is about 97 kWh, with 3 kWh as a buffer. As shown in the charging curve, it indeed reached the 250-kW maximum V3 Supercharger rate and sustained that figure for the five minutes it took to charge from 10 to 30 percent. 

In order to take advantage of peak charging rate, showing up to a Supercharger with the Model S Plaid depleted to between zero and 5 percent of its full charge is the optimal starting point. After the peak, the charging rate gradually ramped down as the pack’s state of charge increased. (Imagine people rushing into an elevator: It’s easy when the elevator is empty, but as more people get in, it takes longer to let them find space to wiggle through.) If you’re on a road trip, 60 percent is a good point to stop charging the car and continue driving until you reach the next Supercharger. The reason is, after 60 percent, the charging rate begins to dip below 2 kWh per minute, so you may as well go to the next charging site, at least from a pure time standpoint. And hey, 18 minutes of charging time is good for another bathroom break. 

As for Tesla’s claim of adding 187 miles of range in 15 minutes of charging time, it is pretty dead-nuts accurate with a Model S Plaid. (At least with the standard 19-inch Tempest wheels.) However, this can only happen when you begin charging the car when it already has a low amount of juice remaining. And on a Model S Plaid with the more energy consumptive optional 21-inch wheels, you are looking at adding 167 miles of range in 15 minutes. 

Tesla Model S Plaid with 21-inch Arachnid wheels

SOC Time Recharged 

Energy

Recharged 

MT est range

(highway/city/)

Recharged

EPA 

est range

Recharged 

Drag Strip 

est range

5% to 30% 6 minutes +24 kWh 75/82 miles 84 miles 2.4 miles
5% to 55% 15 minutes +48 kWh 151/165 miles 167 miles 4.8 miles
5% to 60% 18 minutes +52 kWh 163/178 miles 181 miles 5.2 miles
5% to 70% 23 minutes +63 kWh 198/216 miles 219 miles 6.3 miles
5% to 80% 31 minutes +72 kWh 226/247 miles 251 miles 7.2 miles
5% to 90% 41 minutes +81 kWh 254/278 miles 282 miles 8.1 miles
5% to 95% 52 minutes +87 kWh 273/298 miles 303 miles 8.7 miles

Range: Dragstrip vs. EPA vs. MotorTrend’s Real-World Estimate

Manufacturers love to talk about their electric cars’ range to sell people on buying an EV, but in reality, range is heavily dependent on the way you drive, traffic, and weather conditions. The Model S Plaid with 21-inch wheels uses 2.5 percent of its battery to finish a quarter-mile run on a racing dragstrip, so in theory—we didn’t actually launch it repeatedly until its battery died—it has roughly 10 miles of range if used for 40 consecutive dragstrip runs. Tesla says the Model S Plaid with the 21s has an EPA-estimated 348 miles of range, and that is according to EPA’s conditions and using a mix of 55 percent highway and 45 percent city driving. See the range difference from different use cases there? 

We took the Tesla Model S Plaid on separate road routes for highway (70-75 mph) and city driving, then looked for the efficiency. We drove the car four times on each route, two times with air conditioning on and set to 72 degrees, and two times with it off and only the fan on.

With the ambient temperature below an average of 75 degrees, we saw 3.43 miles/kWh for city driving and 3.14 miles/kWh on the highway. Using the same EPA highway-to-city ratio, our theoretical measured range is 318 miles. 

Multiply the number with energy, and you can reveal the estimated range. For example, on a road trip, chances are you would drive mostly on a freeway or highway, so you’re looking at 305 miles of total range. However, in real life, chances are you are not driving from a fully charged pack to empty. Let’s say you recharged 72 kWh (from 5 to 80 percent): Expect about 226 miles of driving on a freeway at 70-75 mph. 

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No Yoke, the Refreshed Tesla Model S Ditches the Round Steering Wheel Entirely

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  3. No Yoke, the Refreshed Tesla Model S Ditches the Round Steering Wheel Entirely

It’s yoke or nothing for buyers of the updated electric sedan.

Despite it appearing in images pulled from Tesla’s own website, as well as making cameos in a handful of the automaker’s test cars, a traditional round steering wheel is not in the cards for the refreshed Model S electric vehicle. Instead, the brand is committing to the funky yoke-style steering device that the updated luxury sedan debuted with, which looks much like a normal steering wheel sans the upper rim. For those with a knack for pop culture, think of the steering setup used by Knight Rider‘s K.I.T.T.

Admittedly, we rather like the design of Tesla’s new tiller (admit it, it looks cool), however, we were left underwhelmed by its execution after a week of living with a so-equipped Model S Plaid. This was especially true when driving at lower speeds where the car’s quick, but not quick enough, 14.0:1 steering ratio made it difficult to complete near-full-lock turns without awkwardly fumbling for the device’s (purposely) missing upper rim out of habit. 

We’ve heard a variety of reasons for Tesla’s decision to fit every variant of the new Model S (and presumably the similarly updated Model X SUV), ranging from the company’s hope to improve visibility to the car’s gauge cluster to its desire to create a better Autopilot experience, but we have yet to hear any rumblings that the automaker has any plans to offer a traditional steering wheel as an alternative to the yoke. 

Sources within Tesla revealed the steering wheels seen fit to aforementioned 2021.5 Model S prototypes were strictly there for engineering purposes. Nevertheless, it’s clear Tesla has the resources and capability to build and offer a more traditional steering wheel for the updated Model S. While the revised EV is currently offered exclusively with the yoke, it’s possible a more typical steering wheel may find its way to the car’s cabin as an optional feature in the future. After all, Tesla moves quickly and the brand may simply decide to fast-track production of a full-rimmed steering wheel for the refreshed Model S if enough customers find the yoke more charming in theory than in practice.

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You Can Buy Ken Block’s Menacing 1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck

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  3. You Can Buy Ken Block’s Menacing 1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck

The 914-hp, Ford-GT-engined Ford pickup premiered in Gymkhana 10.

The widebody F-150 pickup truck premiered in Gymkhana 10, where the tire slayer wreaked havoc through Route 66 in Shamrock, Texas. He topped off his tire-slaying tour by drifting around a drove of artfully staged rusted vintage cars. But the career highlight of this custom Ford F-150 came when it conquered the allegedly most dangerous road in China, the Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road located within Tianmen Mountain National Park.

Peeking through the hood is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 EcoBoost pulled from the Ford GT Le Mans race car. The modified engine develops 914 horsepower and 702 lb-ft of torque, routed to all four wheels via a Sadev six-speed gearbox. The customization includes a tube frame chassis and military-grade aluminum bodywork, finished in the signature matte black and gray color scheme. It has a carbon fiber dashboard, Recaro race seats, FordPass remote start, and a backup camera.

The raucous Hoonitruck comes fitted with a uniquely designed set of Fuel Block forged beadlock wheels painted in gloss white and rides on ST/KW suspension. Because the widebody flares make the pickup truck just over 79 inches wide, an issue during transportation. Detroit Speed in Mooresville, North Carolina, designed the Hoonitruck to be highly modular. If any problem arises or in case of an accident, the truck can be taken apart and rebuilt on-site.

Detroit Speed built the hardcore F-150 pickup from the ground up, and it reportedly cost upwards of $1.5 million to bring to fruition. LBI Limited is handling the sale, and the asking price is a mind-boggling $1.1 million—a decent discount, we suppose? Additional parts included in the listing are an extra 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, wheels, body panels, and suspension components.

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