2018 Subaru Ascent spy shots

When it was dropped at the end of the 2014 model year, Subaru’s Tribeca was both the oldest and least popular model in the automaker’s lineup.

But given the strong demand for reasonably priced SUVs with third-row seats, it was only a matter of time until a replacement was launched.

That replacement was previewed at the 2016 Los Angeles auto show by the Viziv-7 concept car and now some prototypes for the production model have been spotted. Unfortunately, in typical Subaru fashion, what was an awesome-looking concept has been neutered on its way to production. From some angles, it looks more like a wagon than an SUV.

Subaru is yet to confirm the name, though the automaker hints that the SUV will wear a badge synonymous with “outdoor adventure.” One possibility is Ascent, which Subaru filed a trademark for last fall with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Subaru Viziv-7 concept, 2016 Los Angeles auto show

Subaru Viziv-7 concept, 2016 Los Angeles auto show

What we do know is that the SUV is larger than the Tribeca and will be offered as standard with third-row seats. It’s designed around the Subaru Global platform which in shortened form debuted in the 2017 Impreza. Seen in some of the spy shots are rival models such as the Ford Explorer, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander.

Look for the standard powertrain to be a version of Subaru’s familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-4. It’s likely the automaker’s 3.6-liter flat-6 will be offered for those seeking improved performance. Both engines should be mated to a CVT and all-wheel drive.

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Subaru has confirmed production will commence in 2018 at its plant in Lafayette, Indiana. The plant is where the automaker produces its Legacy, Outback and latest Impreza.

A debut is tipped for the 2017 New York auto show starting April 12.

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