2008 Subaru Tribeca Preview – New York Auto Show: A good personality. Outstanding inner qualities. Born to a good family. A trusted companion in difficult times. Accommodating. They’re all terms that could be appropriately used to describe the Subaru B9 Tribeca. Note that attractive is not on the list. As we’ve all learned, looks aren’t everything, but they’re definitely something, and in the world of cars, they’re something big. Recognizing that not enough shoppers were embracing its crossover’s funky face, Subaru designers put pen to paper for 2008 and finished the day with a new Tribeca (sans the B9), one that replaced individuality with mainstream style. With any luck, this once homely wallflower will be contending for the center of attention.
With so many good cars on the market today, buyers have the luxury of not having to settle for anything less than what they truly want. That’s great for automakers who sell cars that please on every front, especially if those vehicles happen to be among the growing ranks of crossovers. Subaru thought the B9 Tribeca was a winner, but buyers responded to the Subie’s looks by buying its competitors. The significant refresh, consisting of a power upgrade but more importantly a reskinning of the front end, should help the 2008 Tribeca appeal to more buyers, and in doing so, provide a boost to Subaru’s already healthy growth.
Driving the 2008 Subaru Tribeca avails one to the brand’s 3.6-liter boxer engine, complete with double overhead cams and active valve control. Output registers 256 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 247 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm. Compare that to 2007’s 3.0-liter engine with 245 horsepower and only 215 lb.-ft. of torque. Power gains are noteworthy, as are accomplishments including a fuel economy improvement of up to ten percent, and the powertrain’s weight reduction by ten pounds. All Tribecas are fitted with a five-speed Sportshift manually-interactive automatic transmission, and as is the rule for Subarus, all-wheel-drive traction is standard. The suspension system consists of struts and L-arms up front and a double-wishbone setup on the rear.
Let’s not mince words: The previous B9 Tribeca was one ugly son-of-a-gun. Guys might’ve referred to it as a butterface, meaning it had a sexy body but a face that would make eyes bleed. Word obviously got around to Subaru designers, who performed an ever-so-slight facelift after the B9 Tribeca was introduced, and for 2008 they’ve basically just ripped off the skin and started fresh. Now dubbed the Tribeca, this crossover is all new from the windshield forward, and now features more traditional styling accented by horizontally-stacked headlights and a wide chrome grille. If anything the new look takes conservative to the extreme, but it’s a monumental improvement over the mug of the outgoing model.
Many people agree that the biggest problem with the B9 Tribeca was its front end styling. The rest of the bodywork seemed to pass muster, and the interior was actually praised for its style. Therefore, the Tribeca’s cabin enters the 2008 model year largely unchanged except for improved third-row access on seven-passenger models. Both sides of the second row now move out of the way, thereby allowing easier entry for rear-most passengers.
Since its U.S. debut a few years back, Subaru has sold roughly 35,000 copies of the B9 Tribeca. That’s not good, and stands in contrast to the brand’s other models, all of which have helped Subaru actually improve sales by a commendable margin. With the launch of the reworked 2008 Tribeca, company officials are in essence saying that it’s time for their mightiest crossover to rise to the occasion and bring in its share of customers. Subaru suggests that people loved the previous version; unfortunately, those people were limited in number. Having addressed shoppers’ main complaint, all expectations are that this new iteration will comfortably outsell its predecessor.
Here, again, is another example of the common situations shared between people and cars. The Tribeca, for example, is just like a lonely single guy. Both want to be picked up, chosen from amongst the masses, and whisked off for years of love and companionship. That ain’t happening if you’re ugly. Sorry, but it’s just not. The smart guy realizes his shortcomings and hits the gym, drops some cash on some new duds, maybe visits a dermatologist or orthodontist, while the equally homely auto makes a pit stop back at the design studio for a little reshaping here, a tuck there. In the end, the dude finds love, and we expect the 2008 Subaru Tribeca to find more welcoming garages.