2019 Subaru Ascent Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, brake, engine and transmission issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Subaru enthusiasts couldn’t have been happier to find out that the automaker was offering a three-row SUV. It seemed like the perfect way to expand the family with a car brand most people trusted. Even Subaru tagged this model with the “Love is now bigger than ever” tagline. The trouble is, there are lots of things that are bigger with the 2019 Subaru Ascent, including the difficulties.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2020   2021   2022   2023

Battery Drain Problems

Thousands of Subaru owners have complained about battery drain problems in their cars. So much so that multiple class actions have been filed regarding Subaru battery drain lawsuit alleges 2016-2020 Subaru Outback and 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent vehicles have batteries that don’t have enough capacity to power the electrical systems when the vehicles are turned off. These cases are  Dalen v. Subaru and Tomasian v. Subaru  ( In re Subaru Battery Drain Products Liability Litigation)

In these cases it is alleged that Subaru owners must jump-start their drained batteries constantly and continue to charge the batteries to keep the vehicles going. The class action alleges even when Subaru replaces the batteries under warranties, the replacement batteries also suffer from the same battery drain problems.

2019 Subaru Ascent Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Fuel/propulsion System
Exterior Lighting

Problems with the Electrical System

When someone gets behind the wheel of a new car, they expect that it will start without a problem, but that’s not the case with the Ascent model.

Here’s one of many negative reviews on Edmunds. “The ignition has been cranking up like an old car. It happened twice for now. The second time it happened the engine did not start and it showed check engine light. The service said they can’t replicate the problem so they had to do nothing. Is this happening to anyone else with the new ascent?  The headlights are staying on for the whole time of the ride. The setting is in auto. I tried to change the settings but it’s the same. Before this happened I witnessed a ‘malfunction’ kind of situation. Like the headlights turning on and off several times in just a few minutes. (Even though I was driving I witnessed it because the console lights have also changed its intensity. – the console lights are less intense when the lights are on and vice-versa).”

With 20 service bulletins, it would be logical to assume the automaker would address these concerns, but it doesn’t happen. Instead, they document how to upgrade software, program the clock and connect to apps. While all of these functions are valuable, none of them matter if the SUV doesn’t start in the first place.

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Problems with the Brakes

Once a driver gets their Ascent running, there will be times when it needs to stop. The brakes are a vital component that makes this happen. When they don’t work correctly, the safety of the entire family is at risk.

One person wrote this about their new Ascent on Edmunds. “Waited a year to buy this vehicle. I was debating between the Subaru Ascent and Honda Pilot, and I chose the former because of how it drove and the 3rd row space. Right out of the Lot I drove to my brother’s house to show him the vehicle. I pull up and he tells me he hears a little squeak from the brakes. I figure the car just needs to be driven a little bit more and broken in. After a week I had driven 500 miles and the squeak was significantly louder. I was also experiencing a drag on the vehicle. When I took my foot off the accelerator the car felt like it immediately had drag. So I checked the average mpg and it was 15mpg! I drive like a senior citizen so this was a shock because the advertisement said the vehicle does 26/highway and 22/city. I even took the car on a trip for 250miles all highway on cruise control at 75 miles per hour and the car only averaged 21.9mpg. I called my Subaru service and they told me to bring the vehicle in and they kept it for a day and a half. When they got back to me they said there’s nothing wrong with the car. I asked about the mpg and they said I have to let it break in a little bit more. I’ve also been using all premium gas just in case it was the problem. Now the car has 1800 miles and I’m averaging 18mpg city and the squeaky brakes are still there.”

Again, we see no communication about the brakes on the Ascent, despite the numerous complaints. The automaker spends almost half of all the bulletins discussing equipment instead of significant parts. There’s very little talked about the engine, powertrain, brakes or other vital equipment. You know – the stuff that makes the car run.

Problems with the Engine and Powertrain

While discussing the major components, it makes sense to touch on the consistent complaints about the transmission.

This review on Edmunds sums it all up. “I really, really want to love this car, but, honestly, right now I don’t. I have never bought a brand new car, but I decided to do so after I had been rear ended last year and needed a new car. Shopped around and almost bought an Acura MDX (hindsight I should have!). I wanted something very safe and very reliable that would last me many years like my Honda Pilot had, and still is (1555,00 miles and not a lick of trouble!). Picked up my Ascent in September after I had ordered it in July. While driving I would notice that it shifted funny and that the RPM’s would go really high going up hills sometimes. I figured it was how it was supposed to be and never gave it much thought until one day it started shifting gears back and fourth driving at the same speed on level road. Took it for an oil change and told them about it and, yeah, it needed a new transmission. It also had to have the passengers side seatbelt replaced because it wouldn’t release after you buckled up. Then the entertainment center would go daffy when you’d try and make a call and radio would come on full blast when you were calling someone. So, they ordered a new transmission and new passenger side seatbelt and fixed everything which took 3 weeks. After having the car back for a month or so, and putting about 1000 miles on it, I’m now having transmission problems AGAIN! Seriously?? And, the seat belt does the same thing; not all the time, but it still does it. So, I just called service again and I am now waiting to hear back from them. Honestly, I don’t ever think I’ll buy another Subaru in my lifetime. I should have known better and just stayed with Honda.”

Report after report talk about needing a new transmission shortly after purchasing the Ascent. It seems that isn’t the only problem Subaru had with the powertrain. A recall labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 19V519000 discusses how the driveshaft might disconnect. If this happens, the driver is at risk of crashing. To repair the problem, the entire driveshaft assembly must be replaced. It’s incredible they were willing to address this concern considering their lack of attention to anything else. It’s much more challenging to ignore problems when parts start separating from the car.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Subaru pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Ida M

    We have a 2019 Subaru Ascent. We got a lemon. There was a crack in the sun roof 10 days after we bought it. The dealership service said a rock hit it and it was an internal crack. After fighting with them they replaced it. Our check engine light came on 11/30/23. We had appointment 12/1/23 to get recalls and oil change. Service called and said something was wrong with the engine and it wouldn’t be covered under warranty because we took it elsewhere one time to certified place for oil change. They didn’t know what was wrong just that it wasn’t covered under warranty. They have had our car for over a month and finally gave us a report that we need a new engine and the total would be 7000. We are beyond frustrated. We drove it an 1.5 to dealership on 12/1 with no issues. There were no signs or issues with engine. How do we know they didn’t do something to our oil? Plus there was a recall on the oil cvt oil cooler. We are currently getting a second opinion. Our 2019 has 42000 miles no issues with engine, just battery. We feel we are being taken for a ride. Plus the maintenance leader Frank has been rude! They are trying to charge us rental fees for the courtesy car, when we got the final diagnosis email 1/2/24. We will never buy a Subaru again.

  • Susan

    My Ascent has spent so much time in the shop in two years, it’s a crappy car. Squeaky brakes, Multiple electrical issues, software updates,multiple recalls, check engine light comes on, has lost acceleration twice now while driving. It’s not safe.

  • TonyaJ126

    Leased a new Ascent in 2019…not even 1yr into the lease they had to replace the transmission. Subaru’s customer service Headquarters (the 800#) is very helpful but after my lease is up that’s it!!!! I was out of town and found out that other Subaru dealerships won’t help you if you have mechanical issues. That’s horrible!!! Even when I take my car into the service center, if they can’t find a problem on their computer they want to give you back the car. So you drive out with the same problem you went in for. Their ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE SUCKS!!!!! I waited for over 4hrs and realized I should just call AAA. AAA came in less than 30 minutes. Subaru Roadside Assistance NEVER Showed up. I will NEVER get another Subaru in my life!! I love the size of the car, and it’s comfortable…but I don’t feel safe taking it on a long road trip. I’m looking for another car and can’t wait for this lease to be up!!! I initially leased it with hopes to purchase after the lease was up. Most car issues happen within 3yrs so i figured if I had no problems I’d buy it. I wasn’t so lucky…but I dodged a bullet. I’m glad I can get rid of it next year.

  • Barbara R

    Have a 2019 Subaru Ascent. Has been in shop since December 16, two days shy of one month. Took it in for recalls. Was told that the computer was destroyed when attempts were made to reprogram it. Second computer was defective. Have been waiting for computer to come from Japan. Leaving the tailgate open drains the battery. Dealership gave me an after market battery and installed a battery shut off. This does not always help. I would like them to give me all of my money back so I can get a different car. I do not feel that this car is reliable. I am disappointed in Subaru.I have called SOA and have a case number. The representative said yesterday that she is still investigating.

  • Jk

    Bought the car in April and was in the shop for transmission problems. Had vehicle for 32 days had to wait to get the transmission in August . Back in two week later with glass in the sun roof cracked had for 9 days, back in the shop again for the windows fogging up when the air conditioner was turned off had the vehicle for 10 days, back in the shop again after 1 week check engine light on with 4 other orange light coming on they still have vehicle in the shop. Would not buy again

  • cynthia A

    Had my Subaru just over year now and its been jumped about 10 times for a dead battery and towed twice when the battery would not jump. The dealership repeatedly tells me “It’s because you don’t drive it enough” or “your reading lights were left on”. Well I am sick of excuses! I drive the car 4-5 days a week and check it frequently to make sure no lights are left on, yet the same issue keeps happening. One day you will go out and the car will not start. The last time I packed for dog training and everything working properly. Then went in to get the dog to leave and the car would not start! It would not jump either so got towed in. They had the same old excuses for the reason of the problem saying the passenger reading light was on(it wasn’t I was just out with the car and no lights were on). I told then I had seen in the past when car is jumped it causes some of reading lights to come on just by jumping it, but it was ignored. I am possible there is an electric issue in the car causing the issue but say they can not find anything. Its so frustrating having an unreliable vehicle!!!!! I get scared to death never knowing when is the next time I will go out to find the car dead again. They proceed to tell me to fix problem was to use duct tape to tape the lights so no one could turn them on, which would not work sense any pressure at all on the light cause it to turn on or cover then with something so can’t be use….like I really want my new car to look like a piece of junk with stuff taped to the ceiling. Another huge safety issue is when you have dead battery you are unable to open the rear hatch-a dangerous safety issue for family with kids or pets in the rear compartment of the vehicle. Would also be issue in case of an accident in trying to get folks out of the rear hatch. Also the cup holders are terrible will not hold larger size drinks from fast food places- they spill over or will not fit. Only things that fit well are small drinks or cans.

  • Hilary J

    I bought a 2019 Subaru Ascent and we have had it in the shop several times for screeching, lunging forward, losing power, scrambled computer brains. We want a refund!

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