2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2020 Subaru Ascent

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition has standard Parking Sensors 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 Pilot 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

There are over 66 percent more Honda dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Pilot’s warranty.

Reliability

The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engine in the Ascent has dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Honda vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 16th in initial quality. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th.

Engine

The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 20 more horsepower (280 vs. 260) than the Ascent’s 2.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Honda Pilot is faster than the Subaru Ascent:

Pilot

Ascent

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

7.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93.9 MPH

88.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The Ascent doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Ascent doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Pilot 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.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pilot stops shorter than the Ascent:

Pilot

Ascent

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The Pilot 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.

Suspension and Handling

The Pilot has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Ascent doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Pilot (except LX)’s optional drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Ascent doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Pilot is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than on the Ascent.

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .80 G’s, while the Ascent Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The Honda Pilot may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 400 pounds less than the Subaru Ascent.

The Pilot 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.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Pilot Elite 4WD is quieter than the Ascent Touring (37 vs. 40 dB).

Passenger Space

The Pilot has 1.4 inches more front hip room, .9 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, 1.7 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom, .2 inches more third row legroom and .4 inches more third row shoulder room than the Ascent.

Cargo Capacity

The Pilot’s cargo area provides more volume than the Ascent.

Pilot

Ascent

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

17.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

47.5 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

86.5 cubic feet

The Pilot has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Ascent doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’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.

Towing

The Pilot’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Ascent’s (3500 vs. 2000 pounds).

Ergonomics

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s standard easy entry system 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.

If the windows are left open on the Pilot the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Ascent can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Pilot’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Ascent’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

When the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition 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 Pilot Elite/Black Edition 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 Honda Pilot Elite//Black Edition has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The Ascent doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

The Pilot is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Ascent doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the Ascent because it costs $546 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the Ascent, including $18 less for front brake pads, $68 less for a starter and $329 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The Honda Pilot has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Pilot

Ascent

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

Top Pick

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Honda Pilot outsold the Subaru Ascent by over four to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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