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June 25, 2021

Review: 2021 Subaru Evoltis 2.4 Touring EyeSight

Among carmakers, it made the most sense for Subaru to come out with a big 7-seater SUV. Their image, aside from winning World Rally Championships in what seemed a lifetime ago, is all about family, safety, and all-wheel drive. Hurt perhaps by their misadventures with the Tribeca (remember those?), Subaru bided their time, shed all their remaining oddball thinking, and ended up with this: the 2021 Subaru Evoltis.

Known as the Subaru Ascent in North America, the Evoltis is neither cutting-edge nor offensive. Instead, it goes straight for the middle ground of the midsized SUV market as a way to lure you from the likes of the Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade, and the Mazda CX-9.

This middle-of-the-road mission may seem at odds with the eclectic character that has won Subaru so many loyalists, but the Evoltis aims to please those people, too. For one thing, it looks like a Subaru. It doesn’t take much squinting to see that it’s an overinflated Forester. Again, this isn’t about pushing the design envelope, but rather, keeping things safe, sensible, and instantly recognizable.

That recognizability continues straight when you enter the cabin. Despite its girth, getting in and out of the Evoltis is easy—just like any other Subaru SUV or crossover. Seniors, or those with weak knees will find that the seat height has been optimized allowing them to enter and exit with a simple slip and slide. Coupled with the square-cut doors and ample headroom, even those who travel in the third row regularly will find this entire exercise a breeze.

The large greenhouse and upright stance allow for the most accommodating cabin in its class. In the second row is a pair of captain’s seats. They slide fore and aft on a long track, allowing you to pull them snug against the back of the front seats—perfect for parents who travel with kids in child seats—or pushed back for first-class legroom. With a pull of a lever, the middle seat folds and slides out of the way (it doesn’t tumble) to ease entry into the third row. That row is spacious enough for two, and just right for three.

Sadly, the P 3.480-million price tag doesn’t justify its lackluster cabin. Much like the exterior, the Evoltis’s interior lacks any sense of flair. The design and layout are pretty bog-standard Subaru. Sure, there are attempts to spruce things up with things like the matte wood trim, ambient lighting, and the white piece of leather running across almost the entire length of the dashboard, but overall, it’s an experience close to that of a P 1.9-million Forester. Heck, there are extremely cheap bits like the flimsy sun visors. Having said that, at least everything is easy to use and understand.

In addition, there are thoughtful design cues inside the Evoltis that go beyond the 19 cupholders that their brochures love the harp on so much. For example, the captain’s seats have these grab handles that are said to be inspired by Japan’s bullet train, and they do double as bag hooks. The lid of the underfloor storage compartment, behind the third row, can be secured to the back of the rearmost seats to stay open, and the compartment itself can accommodate the standard cargo shade when it’s not in use so it doesn’t take up room in your garage.

In terms of creature comfort features, the Evoltis comes with a solid set. There are great things like the panoramic sunroof and tri-zone climate control with ceiling-mounted vents. There are also some things, due to its nature as a North American product, that don’t work here like the on-board navigation, HomeLink (a garage door opener), and the GPS-linked clock. There are also features that raises eyebrows like the heated steering wheel (at least the front seats are both heated and ventilated).

The Evoltis’s powertrain is yet another example of how Subaru is trying both to maintain its quintessential traits, while also attempting to win brand converts. Long-time fans will know that the flat-four offers benefits such as inherent balance, low center of gravity, and as an added bonus, a telltale rumble. For others, they’ll surely zoom in at the commendable 260 horsepower, 375 Nm of torque figures. For both, they’ll find the engine extremely satisfying. On demand, there’s enough motivation to move the 2,081-kilogram frame, making highway merging or overtaking effortless. Take note though that after that initial burst of speed, it doesn’t offer anything more in reserve. Oh, and both will have to be friendly with their local gasoline station too since this is one thirst SUV. It nets you an average of 5.74 km/L (average speed of 17 km/h).

Power is routed through a Lineartronic CVT which, Subaru says, has been modified specifically for the Evoltis. Most of the time, it’s a good partner for the engine with convincingly simulated shifts as you accelerate. Take note though that it takes a fine touch of the throttle to make it work smoothly in stop-and-go traffic. Even moderate inputs result in surging acceleration, which can make passengers uncomfortable. At higher speeds though, the gearbox effectively keeps the turbo spinning so that the Ascent feels reasonably responsive, even if its zero to 100 km/h time is slower than that of the Mazda CX-9.

The Evoltis is pure Subaru under the skin, riding on the company’s Subaru Global Platform—yes, the same one used on the Subaru XV and Forester. On this occasion though, they’ve dramatically stretched the platform. With that, it’s a competent handler and free from the dreaded “Subaru rattle.” The steering is light and lacks feel, but it helps this portly-looking SUV feel reasonably athletic. Aside from responding to even subtle movements of the wheel, the body motions are nicely controlled through corners. Oh, and it’s not terrible through U-turns too with a 5.8-meter turning radius. Overall, the ride quality is plush, but larger road imperfections and bumps are felt, and can jitter the cabin a bit. Impacts though are never flat-out harsh despite running on 20-inch wheels.

As with most other members of the Subaru Philippines family, the Evoltis comes with the Subaru EyeSight driver assist technology. And while it doesn’t have a heads-up display, Subaru uses a multi-colored LED lightbar mounted on the dashboard to project safety information onto the windshield. Veering off a lane? The indicators will turn yellow, indicating which side you’re veering off to. An obstacle too close ahead? The indicators will turn red, and will blare out a warning that you should brake (it also primes the brake system during this time too). Admittedly, this setup is archaic, but it’s effective. It also comes with a front camera (no sensors though), a rear camera (with sensors), a camera-based rear view mirror (perfect if the third-row’s packed with passengers), and blind spot indicators with rear automatic braking too.

In the past, Subaru has exploited its offbeat nature to win it fans. However, realizing that three-row SUV buyers typically care more about a different set of figures, Subaru plays the game well. It’s not superlative in any single measure, but it is respectable and well-rounded in almost every objective measure. Sadly, it hits a major snag in one major factor: price. 

At P 3.480 million, it’s by far the most expensive three-row large crossover here—more expensive than the Korea-sourced Hyundai Palisade, Japan-sourced Mazda CX-9, and oddly enough, even the North America-sourced Ford Explorer. With that, it begs the question: where did the half million pesos go? This certainly doesn’t look or feel worthy of its price tag. If it were around P 3 million flat, it would have been perfect. Still, for those who remain unfazed by that, the Evoltis manages to live up to all of Subaru’s core values while being wrapped in a family-friendly three-row SUV package.

2021 Subaru Evoltis 2.4 Touring EyeSight

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Ownership 2021 Subaru Evoltis 2.4 Touring EyeSight
Year Introduced 2021
Vehicle Classification Mid-Sized SUV
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Mid-Sized SUV
Seating 7
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.4
Aspiration Turbo
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders F4
BHP @ rpm 260 @ 5,600
Nm @ rpm 375 @ 2,000-4,800
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 5.74 km/L @ 17 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,998
Width (mm) 1,930
Height (mm) 1,819
Wheelbase (mm) 2,890
Curb Weight (kg) 2,081
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Falken Ziex ZE001 A/S 245/50 R 20 H (f &r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Front & Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2 (2nd row),
3-pt ELR x 3 (3rd row)
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Pre-Collision Braking System
Pre-Collision Throttle Management
Lane Sway and Departure Warning
Blindspot Indicators
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Reverse Automatic Braking
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Power
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way w/ Memory
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 50/50 (2nd row),
50/50 (3rd row)
Sunroof Yes
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Camera-Based
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual Zone (front), Single Zone (rear)
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 14, Harman Kardon
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Recent pricing decisions by Subaru baffle me. They're pricing their vehicles in the entry level luxury range, except their cars aren't that...

  2. The fact that they keep offering discounts on their other models due to zero sales leaves me wondering that the current pricing of this car is nothing but a desperate attempt to generate buzz on a failing brand rather than produce actual sales.....Who you kidding guys?

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. too expensive, this will go down the same route as the Honda Pilot......

  5. Replies
    1. Depends.

      If you're be needing all three rows of seats all the time, the Evoltis is the better choice. The ride is also more attuned to the traditional tests of Filipinos meaning it's soft. It also has more safety equipment compared to the CX-9.

      On the other hand, the CX-9 feels much more premium in its execution (no cheap interior bits), is more fuel efficient, and more fun to drive. Not to mention, aftersales service, at least for the first 5 years is cheaper (you don't have to pay a single cent).

      Personally, my pick between the two would be the CX-9. Although if I needed a third row, I'd go CX-8 instead. It has more manageable proportions.


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