2021 Highlander vs. Ascent Comparison

For confident driving in both the city and country no matter the season, SUVs offer enough capability and utility to keep you going. The Toyota Highlander has been a successful addition to the Toyota mid-size SUV lineup. It provides the ample performance, efficiency, convenience, and safety features that customers want to see no matter the model you choose.

Stepping out of its normally smaller-SUV market segment, Subaru introduced the Ascent in 2019 as a true mid-size SUV addition to their crossover-focused lineup. Subaru is also known for its rally-car heritage and boxer engines, and lately has added similar standard active safety features that Toyota Highlander customers have enjoyed for years. Highlander has always paid attention to the little details, which is part of the reason it has stayed ahead of the newer-to-the-market Ascent.

With the 2021 Highlander, you can enjoy features like Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility standard. The base grade Ascent has Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay® compatibility standard but misses out on Amazon Alexa connectivity.

Although the Subaru Ascent has a lower starting MSRP of $32,295, the Highlander L FWD (starting at $34,810) comes packed with standard performance, safety, and multimedia features you won’t find for the same price on the Ascent.

Let's take a closer look at how these two SUVs compare in the areas that matter most to you.

Publish Date: 12/07/2020

Explore Highlander

Performance

These days, breaking into the SUV market after having driven smaller vehicles doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice fuel economy. In fact, the Highlander offers a hybrid engine option for those looking to improve their efficiency.

View Performance

Performance

  • The Highlander offers hybrid engine options for even better fuel economy ratings.
  • Get more standard horsepower in the Highlander, which has 295 horsepower. The Ascent has 260 horsepower.
  • Both the Highlander and Ascent have roadside assistance programs, but only Toyota provides factory-scheduled maintenance as part of its ToyotaCare plan.
View Performance

Safety

Both the Highlander and Ascent offer a full list of standard active safety features. For the 2021 model year, Toyota enhanced Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) and created an even more impressive safety system called Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+). You get TSS 2.5+ and all that comes with it standard in the 2021 Highlander.

View Safety Features

Safety

  • The Highlander and Ascent have similar standard active safety features that come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ (TSS 2.5+) and EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology. However, the Highlander has Road Sign Assist (RSA), while Subaru does not offer this feature.
  • All Highlanders come standard with a trial of Safety Connect®. You'll need to get the Ascent Premium or higher for Subaru's STARLINK® Safety and Security.
  • The Subaru Ascent does not have the driver knee airbag or passenger seat cushion airbag that comes standard with the Highlander.
View Safety Features

Multimedia

Stay connected and make your ride more fun with multimedia options that will sync your car to your device in the 2021 Highlander.

View Multimedia

Multimedia

  • The Highlander includes Amazon Alexa compatibility while the Ascent does not mention this feature.
  • You get a bigger infotainment touchscreen and more USB ports standard on the Highlander.
  • Both the Highlander and Ascent have standard three-zone automatic climate control, but the Highlander also includes controls for the second row.
View Multimedia

Conclusion: Highlander vs. Ascent

Highlander offers standard features that drivers want. Having been around for nearly 20 years, the Toyota Highlander has kept up with the times, creating more room for passengers, improving its safety system, and offering hybrid engine trims.

View Highlander

Conclusion: Highlander vs. Ascent

  • A 12.3-inch touchscreen is available on the Highlander Limited and Hybrid Limited; this size is standard on the Highlander Platinum and Hybrid Platinum. The Ascent comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen.
  • Boost your fuel economy ratings when you choose one of the Highlander hybrid engine options.
  • Enhance your safety experience with both Safety Connect® and Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ standard on the Highlander.
View Highlander