Test Drive: 2009 Subaru Tribeca
It's true that there's no mistaking the design of Subaru's Tribeca. This crossover is taller, wider and just plain different than other crossover suvs out there. But those that sneer at Tribeca's unique look must surely realize that there are plenty of cookie cutter crossovers out there. If you want one of those, move along. Subaru has always appealed to those that want something with a bit more design personality than 'standard'? autos. After all, this crossover is named for New York's trendy TriBeCa area.
2009 Subaru Tribeca Exterior
Subaru took a lot of heat from auto reviewers about the formerly named Subaru Tribeca B9 (the B9 was dropped for the 2008 models) when it was first introduced in 2006. So the Subaru group jazzed it up a bit with some extra dashes of style on the front and rear, more interior extras and a dollop of power.
Although many equate the name Subaru with sporty, this Tribeca is more of a family vehicle. The automaker took the Legacy platform and puffed it up and out a bit for this car. But the tire pressure system, rollover sensor and other safety extras make the ride feel stable and firm.
But don't think the Tribeca is a minivan wanna be. Sure, it is a bit larger than its contemporaries but its modern grill and sculpted sides make it modern enough. It'd be nice if the windows weren't quite so boxy, but they do eliminate blind spots around the car. In fairness, the windows and rearview mirrors, reshaped for 2008,Â have more positives than negatives. Function '” in this case anyway '” is definitely more important than style for me.
2009 Subaru Tribeca Interior
The interior of the Tribeca is easy to love. The cabin has a high-quality sedan feel with plenty of high-tech extras that are within easy reach including heated mirrors, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and even an air filtration system.
Leather-trimmed seats that I found plenty roomy and comfy, a high-end audio system with 9 speakers and an MP3 adapter, and a power driver's seat with memory add to the sedan feel and look. Plus I loved the central screen on the dashboard that displays climate and audio information whether you have the navigation system/rear camera or not. What a nice extra.
The spacious 74 cubic feet of cargo room is supplemented by a 20/40/20 split fold down rear seat. Although the second and third rows are not as roomy as the front row, it's plenty large enough for kids or even adults who are riding along on a short trip. I haven't been in many crossovers' second or third row seats that would comfortably seat an adult for a cross country ride.
2009 Subaru Tribeca Performance
Say what you will, the Tribeca's 3.6-liter, 256 horsepower engine makes for a powerful, yet controlled, drive whether on highways or side roads. It also handles snow well thanks to, no doubt,Â the all-wheel drive system.
Moving along in highway traffic is effortless as are quick lane changes thanks to ultra-responsive handling. I didn't feel the handling was a sport experience, but other reviewers disagree saying that you can rev the motor to add some extra fun to the experience.
Those familiar with earlier models of the Tribeca note that the passing power is significantly improved since the car was first introduced thanks to extra torque. The Tribeca now has 247-pound-feet of torque compared to the original 215 pounds-feet. For me, the Tribeca's performance and handling are just what you'd want in a family SUV such as this. Sturdy, reliable, and unfussy.
Not surprising, the Tribeca has received plenty of kudos for safety from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Daytime running lights, rollover sensors and electronic brake-force distribution are just some of the safety extras on this car.
The bottom line is that the Tribeca is a hearty, smooth handling family crossover that gets kudos for high-end but no-fuss performance. The model I test drove '” the Tribeca Limited SUV '” has a Manufactured Suggested Retail Price just over $36,000 but the SUV's introductory MSRP is just under $30,000.