Then your wife wakes you. Time to go to work. Darn, hate it when that happens.
The Subaru WRX is a car many driving enthusiasts have dreamed of having in the garage. Then reality hits – in the form of a wife and two kids, a mortgage and, oh yeah, a dog. Where in the world would you put your whole family and all the stuff they take along even for the short trip to the corner market? That’s the question Subaru asked and answered with its all-new crossover vehicle, the 2006 B9 Tribeca.
Perhaps the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca will not fulfill the need for speed like a WRX, but it will take care of many of the concerns of family life. The good thing is you can stay with the Subaru stable, because with the introduction of this larger all-wheel-drive wagon you now have everything you need to help keep the family happy, while allowing you the freedom to play a little.
Multiple trim levels are out of fashion, at least when it comes to the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca. Instead, Subaru differentiates the two major B9 Tribeca models by seating capacity. Offered are a five-passenger model and a seven-passenger version, which has a third-row seat. The one caveat to this model mix is the Limited model, which adds leather seating surfaces and a 160-watt sound system with a rear subwoofer.
Subaru believes, and the market seems to prove its theory true, that folks want the ability to carry seven passengers. They may never actually do that, but they want to know that they could if necessary. To help facilitate space for extra passengers, the second-row seat can be adjusted fore and aft by as much as 7.8 inches. This seat also has a center fold-down armrest while retaining a 60/40 folding function, which offers a wider range of cargo/passenger transporting options. Aiding rear passenger comfort, the second-row seatback employs a recline feature.
Nuts and Bolts
All 2006 Subaru B9 Tribecas are powered by a 3.0-liter boxer-design engine that produces 250 horsepower and 219 lb.-ft. of torque. This motor quickly propels the B9 Tribeca to highway speeds and offers good response while negotiating twisting mountain roads. All models are also equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission that features Subaru’s Sportshift manual mode.
As with all Subarus, the B9 Tribeca comes standard with all-wheel drive, which adds the benefit of traction at all four wheels. Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), Subaru’s stability control system, is also included on every B9 Tribeca, as well as four-wheel traction control. This extra grip on the road surface assures secure travel no matter the weather conditions.
A four-wheel independent suspension system provides a good compromise between a comfortable ride and decent handling. Ventilated four-wheel-disc brakes are enhanced by standard ABS to add an additional level of safety.
Our test drive took us through the streets of San Francisco, ascending and descending the steep hills that give this city its character. This is where the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca shows its versatility as well as the advances in technology it holds beneath its skin.
Though offered on few vehicles marketwide, Subaru makes its hill-holder system available on several of its models, including the B9 Tribeca. The hill-holder system continues to apply the brakes for a moment to help make for easy launches on steep hills. Subarus with this hill-holder feature are made for places like San Francisco.
In recent years, Subaru has been able to combine adept handling and ride comfort with little trouble. The 2006 B9 Tribeca, while not exhibiting sports car abilities, handled a myriad of driving conditions quite well. From the streets of San Francisco, along the freeways and highways out to the Pacific Coast, this Subaru’s competence didn’t surprise us. The reason? We expected the B9 Tribeca to be equal to every other Subaru, save for the WRX. After all, in this category you don’t expect nor want the capability of a racecar. You expect a quality ride, versatility and the amenities to make travel less stressful. This Subaru delivers on all counts.
Northern California is also where you can find some of the most demanding roads in the country, and not just fun-to-drive, serpentine, backcountry roads. Try to get around the San Francisco/Oakland Bay area, and you will see that this Subaru can be a pleasant respite in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Because most drivers never experience the rear seats on the vehicles they drive, we make a point of climbing around in the back of all the vehicles we test. It is just as important to get a feel for what the passengers’ view might be as it is the driver’s. The 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca can easily transport four in comfort, five in a pinch. With the third-row, seating is pretty tight, and is best left to small children. Even with the second-row seat slid forward completely, it was a tight fit for an adult. And with the second-row seat in this position, no one would be able to sit there since it rests against the front seat backs.
While traveling along the north coast of California, we got mixed reactions from other drivers on the exterior design. Most were more than curious to find out that this car was the new Subaru, either taken or taken aback by the unique design. The exterior design can best be described as interesting, and it is only a suggestion of what you will experience behind the wheel of the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca.
We’d guess that the “B9” portion of this crossover’s name will be dropped, because this car is anything but benign. Subaru representatives claim that the front-end resembles an aircraft; the large oval center grille is likened to the fuselage and the horizontal openings with their center chrome bar on either side are the wings. To our eyes, it was reminiscent of an Alfa Romeo, long gone from these shores. In all respects, however, this is a unique design and will insure that you will not see yourself coming and going in a cookie cutter vehicle.
As distinctive as the B9 Tribeca may be, it may come as a surprise to learn that this is the first Subaru to be developed, designed and built in the United States. So, this design cannot be blamed on, nor credited to, the Japanese design group, it was all done here in the USA.
Inside, the front passenger compartment follows a modern theme with elements you might find in the Jetsons’ flying car. The dashboard flows into each front door panel, arching across from the bulging center console. The styling gives the interior a dual-cockpit arrangement. Heavy application of brushed metal trim continues the aircraft theme, but it isn’t obtrusive. In fact it rings with quality.
A large 7-inch LCD screen used for the navigation unit dominates the center of the dash. And if you tick off the box for the optional DVD player you get a roof mounted 9-inch screen for rear seat passengers. Rarely seen is the ability to watch the DVD movie on both front and rear screens, but the front display shows a movie only when the B9 Tribeca is stopped and the emergency brake is applied.
Loading cargo is easy, thanks to the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca’s large rear tailgate. And the low liftover height eases the strain on your back no matter what you might be loading. With both second- and third-row seats (if equipped) folded there is over 74 cubic feet of storage space, not as much as a Ford Explorer but more than a Ford Escape. Folding the third-row seat we found plenty of room for four golf bags, or several soft luggage bags. All four of the B9 Tribeca’s doors open wide to allow easy entrance and exiting.
Due in part to impressive chassis rigidity, the B9 Tribeca has the largest towing capacity of any Subaru. At 3,500 pounds, this Subaru is able to pull a trailer loaded with personal watercraft or motorcycles. These are capabilities Subaru owners have wanted for quite awhile.
Wrap-Up and Specs
Discounting the superior power and handling of the WRX, the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca does everything expected of a Subaru. This crossover handles all driving conditions extremely well, while the power from its six-cylinder boxer engine is more than adequate to propel the B9 Tribeca to highway speeds quickly and makes passing slower vehicles a breeze.
As a crossover SUV, the B9 Tribeca is a capable entry. The distinctive exterior lends an appeal that will make a statement in your neighborhood, allowing you to stand out in a crowd without appearing ostentatious. Versatility and usefulness also contribute to the B9 Tribeca’s allure.
In typical Subaru tradition, at least according to Subaru, owners are defined by their thoughts and feelings more than their possessions. Based on this, the 2006 B9 Tribeca should appeal to great number of buyers thanks to its unique, useful and versatile nature.
Test Vehicle: 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
Price Range: $31,320 to $38,320 (includes $625 destination charge)
Engine Size and Type: 3.0-liter horizontally-opposed six-cylinder
Engine Horsepower: 250 at 6,600 rpm
Engine Torque: 219 lb.-ft. at 4,200 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic with manual shift control
Curb weight, lbs.: 4,155 pounds
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 18/23 (estimated)
Length: 189.8 inches
Width: 73.9 inches
Wheelbase: 108.2 inches
Height: 66.4 inches
Leg room (front/second/third): 42.3/34.3/30.9 inches
Head room (front/second/third): 38.9/38.2/36.2 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: 7
Max. Cargo Volume: 74.4 cubic feet
Max. Towing Capacity: 3,500 pounds
Ground Clearance: 8.4 inches
Acura MDX, Audi allroad, Buick Rendezvous, Cadillac SRX, Chrysler Pacifica, Ford Freestyle, Honda Pilot, Infiniti FX35, Lexus RX 330, Mercedes-Benz ML350, Mitsubishi Endeavor, Nissan Murano, Saab 9-7X, Saturn VUE Redline, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90
Photos courtesy of Subaru of America