Subaru Ascent - How Did Our Last Predicted Sales Success Actually Do?

With all the new Corvette hoopla and suppositions about how it’ll sell unbelievably well, I was reminded about the last car that we all seemed to agree would reset the market and sell unbelievably well – the Subaru Ascent. I saw an Ascent on the road yesterday and it got me thinking about how we all predicted it would print money for our friends at Fuji Heavy.

So, I decided to do a very shallow dive into seeing how it’s actually doing, after a little over a year on the market. The short of it is, it’s doing exactly as well as Subaru planned for it to be doing, but it’s definitely not lighting the market on fire.

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According to TTAC, Subaru was looking for about 60,000 annual sales and they met that rate in 2018 and look to be on the path to exceeding it this year with YTD sales (thru June) of approximately 40,108. That’s great, but let’s see how it stacks up against the a cross section of the competition, thanks to our friends at GoodCarBadCar:

  • Chevrolet Traverse – 72,375
  • Ford Explorer – 101,823
  • GMC Acadia – 59,621
  • Honda Pilot – 68,452
  • Mazda CX9 – 11,872
  • Nissan Pathfinder – 36,312
  • Toyota Highlander – 111,183
  • Volkswagen Atlas – 37,726

It’s not exactly lighting the market segment on fire, only outselling the CX9, Atlas and the aging (and rather bad) Pathfinder.

TTAC took a little bit of a deeper dive in their article late last year, finding that, instead of stealing sales from the Highlander, Pilot and company, it was instead cannibalizing Subaru sales:

“After going on sale in June (2018), the first full three months of availability produced 14,683 Ascent sales in America. Q3 sales of the Outback, meanwhile, fell 13 percent, while Forester sales were down 3 percent in the same period. Those two crossovers combined for an 8,650-unit decline in the third quarter, negating much of the Ascent’s additional volume.”

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What TTAC didn’t seem to consider was that the sales of the Outback were already trending down, given that it was due for a refresh (which it just received). The Forester down 3% is roughly in line with quarterly sales fluctuations and I don’t think can be necessarily directly attributed to the Ascent.

So, what does it all mean? It means that while the Ascent isn’t exactly setting the market on fire, it’s still exceeding Subaru’s own sales goals and providing a landing spot for customers who love the brand but would’ve needed to look to competitors when they outgrew Subaru’s old lineup.

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