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Subaru eager to add seven-seater

Practicality-focused Subaru missing seven-seater as crucial component to local line-up

19 May 2023

SUBARU Australia managing director Blair Read has admitted there is a space that he wishes could be filled in the local range by something like the Ascent, a large SUV, available in North America as a seven- or eight-seater that competes with the likes of the Hyundai Palisade and Nissan Pathfinder.


The Japanese brand has had no seven-seat option in Australia since the Tribeca large SUV and Liberty Exiga people mover bowed out in 2014 but it appears that Subaru Australia is at the table asking for a large SUV option for this market – and the next-generation Ascent, if it happens, could be the answer to that question.


Although the Ascent Might just look like a Forester that has been expanded by 20 per cent in every direction, its third-row seating option would likely offer Subaru buyers – particularly those forced to leave the brand when the Tribeca and Exiga were discontinued – a welcome option in the Australian market.


“We believe there is a place for a seven-seat Subaru SUV in the Australian market, absolutely,” said Mr Read, calling out the competitor brands that also offer three-row SUV options here.


“However the Ascent is currently only built in left-hand drive for the North American market, so it’s not an available option for us currently. 


“Yes, we have expressed our interest and it is something we continue to discuss with Subaru Corporation, but there’s no immediate plans,” Mr Read said.


It is expected that a new generation version of the Forester is due within a year or two, but Mr Read declined to directly comment on the notion that Subaru might grow its popular medium SUV to match rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail and Volkswagen Tiguan that offer a choice of five- or seven-seat options.


“Whilst I can’t speak to the next-generation Subaru Forester, it’s fair to say that Subaru’s seven-seat offering globally is the Ascent,” he said.


The Ascent was launched around the same time as the current fifth-generation Forester, so could be reaching the same point in its lifecycle – though larger SUVs tend to have slightly lengthier model cycles. 


Subaru already has a player in the large SUV segment in Australia, where the Outback is classified as a player despite resembling a lifted station wagon and offering only five seats.


Regardless, the Outback is currently the fourth-best-selling large SUV in Australia, behind three-row rivals the Isuzu MU-X, Toyota Prado, and Kia Sorento.


Subaru has sold 3831 examples of the Outback to the end of April 2023, though the Forester remains a more popular vehicle, with 5840 sold over the same period.

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