2007 Subaru B9 TribecaPosted on May 20th, 2007
By Jim Woodman
It’s not surprising that Subaru made a move into the SUV market with last year’s introduction of the B9 Tribeca. After all, Subaru prides itself on all-wheel drive vehicles and a big strike against them was the fact they never had a vehicle large enough to appeal to larger families or those who use their vehicles to store their sports toys.
“B9” is Subaru’s internal designation for its powertrain and chassis while Tribeca is short for “Triangle Below Canal Street,” a fashionable and hip Manhattan neighborhood.
The B9 Tribeca is one of those love-it-or-hate-it styled vehicles. My wife’s immediate reaction was “I love it. It’s really funky and different.” I, on the other hand, find the front styling downright ugly but find the rest of the exterior to be pretty cool looking. Again, this is why some people like chocolate and others prefer vanilla. Using ice cream terms, the Tribeca could be classified as Ben and Jerry’s “Chunky Monkey.” My wife loves the front styling and she’s a Chunky Monkey fan.
The Tribeca comes in a 5- or 7-passenger arrangement. I test drove the 5-passenger model though, with three young children, I would’ve really liked checking out that third row. As it was, we could easily get our three boys across the back seat – one in a car seat and one in a booster.
And speaking of car seats, getting to the tether hooks and safety latches was very easy. We had our two-year-old’s car seat securely installed in well under five minutes.
All the Creature Comforts
Inside, the Tribeca has all the creature comforts we’ve come to expect lately. Power everything, including a moonroof, and leather trimmed upholstery give the Tribeca as very classy and elegant look. The instrument panel has a funky but very ergonomically laid out instrument panel. Some nifty driver and passenger climate control knobs allow you to switch the temperature up or down by simply turning a dial knob clockwise or counter-clockwise. A digital temperature display is centered within each of the knobs.
The AM/FM stereo features a 6-disc CD changer in the dash and is MP3 compatible. I also liked the auxiliary audio jack that allows you to plug in your Ipod or other portable music device. With the proliferation of portable digital music, this is becoming a must-add feature for the automakers.
My Tribeca was also outfitted with a GPS Navigation system that had some good and bad points. On the good side, I noticed the route guidance always gave me better direction than the Honda navigation system I have on our family Odyssey.
For example, there are a couple obvious shorter ways to get to my house from certain locations. The Honda unit never suggests those while the Subaru did every time.
What I didn’t like is what a reach it was to get to most of the functionality. Yes, there are redundant buttons on the dash, but most of what I had to do involved touching the screen. The Tribeca also won’t allow you to enter data while moving more than a few mph.
While I understand the safety aspects of this feature, there are many times my wife is entering addresses while on the move as I drive. I also didn’t like the fact I couldn’t find category stuff near me unless I chose one of the nearest five cities.
But what happens, as so often does in most large cities, when you’re near three or four cities and want to find the closest Chinese restaurant? You guessed it. You have to search each city individually. If there was a way to “sort by nearest” type of function, it certainly wasn’t obvious.
My Tribeca’s navigation screen also doubled as a reverse camera with sensors. While it’s very cool to have the camera show you any obstacles behind the vehicle, the wide angle lens makes it very difficult to judge distances. Fortunately, there are color coded bars that show you how close you are to what you see on the screen.
I’m not sure I could ever get used to not relying on actually looking through the back window while in reverse. That said, I could definitely do without the rear sensor alarms as they’d go off every time I backed out of my driveway and there was nothing behind me but the street curb.
I was pleasantly surprised at the Tribeca’s zippiness. Acceleration was very snappy from a start or slow speeds but somewhat sluggish at mid-range or highway speeds. I find this very acceptable as I’m the kind of driver that likes to get off the line fast.
Of course my heavy foot kills me at the fuel pump and the Tribeca is fair at best with an EPA of 18/23 mpg city/highway. Keep in mind, if you’re purchasing a mid-size SUV you’re certainly not doing it for fuel economy. I can’t wait for better hybrid engines to start infiltrating the mid-size SUV segment.
The Tribeca is powered by a 3.0 liter, six-cylinder engine that delivers 250 horsepower and 219 pounds-feet of torque. The five-speed automatic transmission also features normal and sport shift modes.
Subaru’s Symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive normally splits power 45/55 front/rear and adjusts as traction conditions change. While I never drove the vehicle on wet roads, it was very comforting to know I was getting excellent traction on just about any surface.
On my 5-passenger model there was plenty of room to load my bicycle and other toys in the cargo area. All I had to do with my bike is remove the front wheel. I imagine with a third row option, you’d be hard-pressed to put a bike behind the third row.
I especially liked how easy it was to open and close the lift gate. I literally barely had to push the gate down to feel it securely lock in place. The rear seat was also configured for a 60/40 fold down split if you need more room to haul your gear.
Factor in safety equipment like standard anti-lock brakes, front and side curtain air bags, symmetrical AWD and traction control and you’re certainly comforted by the fact the Tribeca is a very safe vehicle.
Taking everything into account, there’s no question the B9 Tribeca will be on my short list of vehicles when replacing our family mini van. The Tribeca just looks and feels the part of a fun vehicle to drive and own. Plus it’s just different enough, assuming I can live with that front grille styling, to give me a little individuality in an otherwise overcrowded arena of SUVs and crossover vehicles.
Base price: $34,495
Price as tested: $37,033
Horsepower: 250 @ 6,600 rpm
Torque: 219 @ 4,200 rpm
0 to 60: N/A
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: No
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 18/23 mpg city/highway
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