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I’m no geologist, but when I hear the word onyx I think of a black gem. But Googling reveals that an onyx is a banded mineral, usually black with some white bands but can also range in almost any color. So why all the gem talk?

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This week, I’m driving the 2022 Subaru Ascent Onyx and with a name like that I was intrigued and not sure what to expect.

It’s an appropriately-named trim name and with it brings some distinctive styling. Aesthetically the Ascent Onyx has a look that features a black finish on the grille, the side mirrors and rear spoiler. It makes it a real head turner for a brand that can be a little too conservative at times. Subaru has hit a home run with the Onyx trim as it makes the Ascent stand out in a highly-competitive segment. There’s even a black finish on the 20 x 7.5-inch aluminum alloy wheels to help complete the look.

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Inside, the Onyx touches continue, including an attractive lime green outlined Onyx logo on the floor mats. The real standout is the faux carbon fiber accenting on the door panels and the dashboard. I am not used to Subarus having such slick styling.

StarTex water-repellant upholstery showcases the Ascent, like so many other Subaru vehicles, is ready, willing and able to get dirty. The water-repellant seats are attractive but incredibly easy to clean.

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As part of the Onyx edition, the second-row seats are Captain’s chairs which helps make the shoulder room more spacious. All-in-all, the second-row seating is comfortable and feels spacious for even taller passengers.

The rear gate offers quick access to the 17.8 cubic feet of cargo room (behind the third row seats). There’s a memory height setting for the rear gate where you can set it to a preferred opening which is great for shorter people or if you’ve got it parked in a cramped garage. This is outstanding and well-planned engineering.

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There’s additional storage available with a hidden compartment that would be ideal for quick trips to the store. Fold the third-row seats flat and increase the overall cargo area to 47.5 cubic feet. Unless you need 7-passenger capability, this is the ideal setup for maximum comfort and maximum storage in the Ascent.

Through the years, Subaru has made fantastic advances in their infotainment system. I can remember not many years ago, the Subaru infotainment systems feeling incredibly outdated and clunky. That’s not the case with the Ascent as it has a right sized 8-inch. high-resolution touchscreen with seamless smartphone integration. It’s intuitive and simple and did everything you would want a system to do.

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Powering the Ascent is a 2.4-liter direct injection, turbocharged, horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine. It’s good for 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. With a curb weight of 4,542 pounds, it’s a little heavy and thus off the line it’s a little sluggish. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) doesn’t help the overall performance as the quirky shifts can lead to some turbo lag and over revving. But that’s just the nature of the fuel-saving CVT. Good for fuel economy but frustrating for the driving performance.

The Ascent has an impressive 5,000-pound maximum towing capability (that’s more than the SUV weighs).

As you’d expect from the rugged-minded Subaru brand the Ascent has X-Mode with hill descent enabling it to handle multiple terrains. Subaru’s EyeSight Technology (watch a video at the bottom) allows for some hands-free driving and driver assistance programs. These “cheats” may not appeal to some, but I dig the technology. You do have to put some amount of trust into the sensor-based technology, but it’s pretty cool in action.

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The 2022 Subaru Ascent has an EPA rating of 20 mpg/city and 26 mpg/highway. I averaged just over 22 mpg in mixed driving conditions. I didn’t take off the road, but I sure wish I had tried it out in that way.

The 2022 Subaru Ascent Onyx has a starting price of $37,995. With options that included a panoramic sunroof, the aforementioned infotainment system and a cargo area cover, the final price of my Ascent was $41,320 which included a destination charge.

I admit there have been times where I didn’t get the cult of Subaru. There are passionate “Subie” fans out there and the zeal was at times lost on me. With this 2022 Ascent Onyx I get it. It checks a lot of boxes and doesn’t skimp on the quality touchpoints and niceties.

This article originally ran on thecheyennepost.com.

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