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For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the GMC Yukon are height-adjustable, and the middle and rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Subaru Ascent doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.
Both the Yukon and Ascent have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Yukon has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Ascent’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.
In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Yukon are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Ascent doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.
The Yukon has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The Ascent doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.
The Yukon has standard Park Assist to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The Ascent doesn’t offer a front parking aid.
Both the Yukon and the Ascent have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
The GMC Yukon weighs 776 to 1313 pounds more than the Subaru Ascent. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.
The Yukon’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Ascent’s (6 vs. 5 years).
There are almost 3 times as many GMC dealers as there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Yukon’s warranty.
The Yukon has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Ascent doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.
To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Yukon has a standard 720-amp battery. The Ascent’s 530-amp battery isn’t as powerful.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that GMC vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks GMC 12th in initial quality. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th.
The Yukon’s standard 5.3 V8 produces 95 more horsepower (355 vs. 260) and 106 lbs.-ft. more torque (383 vs. 277) than the Ascent’s 2.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Yukon Graphite Performance Edition/Denali’s standard 6.2 V8 produces 160 more horsepower (420 vs. 260) and 183 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 277) than the Ascent’s 2.4 turbo 4 cyl.
As tested in Motor Trend the GMC Yukon 5.3 V8 is faster than the Subaru Ascent:
Zero to 60 MPH
Speed in 1/4 Mile
An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Yukon’s fuel efficiency. The Ascent doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
The Yukon has 6.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Ascent (26 vs. 19.3 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
The Yukon has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Ascent doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
For better traction, the Yukon has larger standard tires than the Ascent (265/65R18 vs. 245/60R18). The Yukon’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Ascent (285/45R22 vs. 245/60R18).
The Yukon’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Ascent Limited/Touring’s 50 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Yukon offers optional 22-inch wheels. The Ascent’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.
The GMC Yukon’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Subaru Ascent only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.
The Yukon has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Ascent doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
The Yukon has a standard full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the Ascent, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.
The Yukon offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Ascent’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The Yukon offers an optional automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Yukon’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Ascent doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Yukon’s wheelbase is 2.2 inches longer than on the Ascent (116 inches vs. 113.8 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Yukon is 4.3 inches wider in the front and 4.5 inches wider in the rear than on the Ascent.
The Yukon’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (52% to 48%) than the Ascent’s (54.2% to 45.8%). This gives the Yukon more stable handling and braking.
The front grille of the Yukon uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Ascent doesn’t offer active grille shutters.
The Yukon Graphite Performance Edition//Denali uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Ascent doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Yukon offers optional seating for 9 passengers; the Ascent can only carry 8.
The Yukon has 1.5 inches more front headroom, 3.1 inches more front legroom, 3.1 inches more front hip room, 3.7 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear legroom, 2.8 inches more rear hip room, 4.8 inches more rear shoulder room, 1.8 inches more third row headroom, 3.4 inches more third row hip room and 5.4 inches more third row shoulder room than the Ascent.
The Yukon’s cargo area provides more volume than the Ascent.
Third Seat Folded
51.7 cubic feet
47.5 cubic feet
Second Seat Folded
94.7 cubic feet
86.5 cubic feet
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Yukon SLT/Denali’s second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Ascent doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The Yukon’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Ascent’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Yukon SLT/Denali’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Ascent doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Yukon’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Ascent’s (6300 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Ascent is only 5000 pounds. The Yukon offers up to a 8500 lbs. towing capacity.
The Yukon uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Ascent uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
The Yukon SLT Standard/SLT/Denali’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Ascent doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The Yukon’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Ascent does not have an oil pressure gauge.
The Yukon Graphite Performance Edition/Denali has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Ascent doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The power windows standard on both the Yukon and the Ascent have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Yukon is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Ascent prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.
The Yukon’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Ascent’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.
The Yukon’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Ascent’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The Yukon’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Ascent Premium/Limited/Touring.
When the Yukon SLT/Denali is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Ascent’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Yukon SLT/Denali has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Ascent offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the GMC Yukon Denali has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Ascent doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
The Yukon is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Ascent doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.
Insurance will cost less for the Yukon owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Yukon will cost $650 to $2400 less than the Ascent over a five-year period.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Yukon is less expensive to operate than the Ascent because typical repairs cost much less on the Yukon than the Ascent, including $249 less for a starter and $342 less for front struts.
The GMC Yukon/Yukon XL outsold the Subaru Ascent by over two to one during 2018.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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