Ironically, given the late arrival of the 2006 B9 Tribeca to a hot sales segment, Subaru was first to market with a so-called crossover SUV, unless you can remember the AMC Eagle Sportwagon. It was 1995. Toyota was a year from launching the RAV4 in the U.S., and Honda had two years to go before debuting the CR-V. Subaru had a new, redesigned Legacy lineup that year, and offered an Outback package on the station wagon model. With two-tone paint, fog lights, a roof rack, and other allegedly rugged goodies onboard, the Legacy Outback was an all-wheel-drive utility vehicle that drove like a car and looked like an SUV. In 1996, a raised suspension and bigger fog lights the size of the moon cemented the formula. Thus, the crossover was born.
Today, crossover vehicles are more than station wagons wearing Carhartts. Dedicated architectures, bodywork, and interiors define the class, which ranges from the Acura MDX to the Volvo XC90. They might be the 21st century wagon, but they’re more capable than ever, and distinctly different from the cars upon which they are based – unlike that first Outback.
Now, Subaru has created a proper crossover, which arrives late to a party in progress. The 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca has a powerful six-cylinder engine, seating for seven passengers, standard all-wheel-drive, and is built on a car platform – typical crossover SUV fare. Unfortunately for Subaru, however, at first glance the B9 Tribeca does not redefine the segment. Rather, it meets the standard.