2020 Subaru Ascent Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, fuel system and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Subaru is known as a company that creates reliable vehicles, which was supposed to carry over with the 2020 Subaru Ascent. The automaker claims “love is now bigger than ever,” but it seems that the affection is dwindling with customers. This model struggles with the electrical system, visibility, fuel system and powertrain.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2021   2022   2023

Problems with the Electrical System

With a malfunctioning electrical system, the ride simply can’t be enjoyable. This Subaru model struggles on many fronts.

Here are a few complaints from an Edmunds user. “Bought my 20 ascent in September of 2019. Got groceries out of the rear hatch one day, got distracted, forgot to close it, left open for about 4 hours, dead battery. Dealership told me there is a design flaw that keeps hatch motor powered and it draws 4 amps. No fix, Subarus fix was to tell me not to leave open. Twice I could not unlock car, not with keyless, not with key fob, not with button on hatch. Thank god I could unlock it with phone app. No fix at dealership. Air quit working, bad Freon tube. Seat heaters defective. Brakes squeal at ever stop. Radio head unit went out. Final straw, around 3500 miles started noticing at take off, Ascent would accelerate, slowdown, then accelerate again. Stopping at stop sign would feel like someone rear ended it. Around 4000 miles would occasionally rev way up, squeal like a pig and drop rpms again. Sometimes could barely make it up a hill. Took to dealership, faulty transmission. Would take a month and a half to fix. Back order and another ascent with crap transmission before me. Told dealership, I’m done . Only had 3 months, 4000 miles. Ascent transmissions are very unreliable and defective. Actually the whole car is.”

Thankfully, Subaru has addressed the liftgate issue with Service Bulletin #07-173-20. The troubles stem from the trunk opening on its own to not opening at all. It seems the Ascent can’t make up its mind whether it wants to let owners in, but doesn’t mind being left open for would-be thieves to get in.

2020 Subaru Ascent Complaint Summary

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

Fuel System Problems

With a properly running fuel system, the drive is smooth. However, this Subaru model has a major complaint that can be alarming.

Here is what one NHTSA review states. “Raw fuel smell coming through vents when outside air being used. More often this occurs when engine is warm and has been restarted (i.e. short trip). Can experience the smell when the car is stationary or in motion. Smell is enough to cause headache. Dealer couldn’t replicate but this happened as soon as I picked up the car from the dealer.”

While Subaru hasn’t discussed any fuel system repairs, there is an engine-related concern that should be looked at. Service Bulletin #11-195-20 talks about the release of a new vacuum hose to fix an oil seepage concern from this vehicle. The new design provides better crankcase ventilation. Whether it is the smell of raw fuel or oil seepage, these are all issues that should be dealt with if the automaker wants to create more “love” among customers.

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Problems with the Transmission

The powertrain is made up of many vital parts, including the transmission. This system appears to be just as big of a failure as other parts with the Ascent.

Another Edmunds review states, “First and last Subaru. Problems started at 100 miles on the odometer and kept getting worse. Transmission shuddering, lack of adapting to change of the throttle. Throttle response is trash, causing whiplash from a standstill with just minor tip in. Adaptive cruise control tried to kill me 2 times in traffic when it failed to pick up other vehicles changing lanes in front of me. Infotainment system was glitchy, with poor touch screen feedback that would also lock up and after disconnecting a phone call (if it ever picked up that the phone was actually connected) it would drive the stereo to 100% volume. Lane departure assist would randomly show ‘off’ even when functioning normally. Worst part, the selling and servicing dealer practically refused to deal with me or the vehicle after the deal was done. Avoid this heap at all costs and buy something that wont put your family at risk!”

According to Service Bulletin #16-103-16R the CVT assembly is also allowing for fluid seepage that shouldn’t occur. To repair the problem, Subaru must replace the chain cover and clean all of the sealing surfaces. Is there any fluid that remains where it is supposed to?

Visibility Issues

Finally a look at the visibility shows further concerns about the way this car was built.

One NHTSA complaint states, “Vehicle was stationary on private driveway. Went to vehicle to retrieve personal item and then noticed a large crack originating on the lower right hand side of the front windshield. Unknown what caused the incident. Crack was not apparent earlier in the day.”

While Subaru hasn’t discussed the glass concerns, despite countless complaints, there are other structure-related problems. Service Bulletin #12-281-20 points out that the hood panel surface tends to vibrate during operation which can result because of a lack of adhesive. Whether the Subaru is falling apart at the seams or leaking noxious fumes, it’s a car that many should love to hate by now.

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

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