Review: 2008 Subaru Tribeca
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Mainstream styling and extra power promise to give the 2008 Subaru Tribeca midsize crossover vehicle greater appeal.
The Tribeca was introduced in early 2005 as a 2006 model. That was a late start because Subaru helped launch the crossover market with its all-wheel-drive 1995 Legacy Outback.
The Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal) is named for a hip section of downtown Manhattan, but probably leaves folks in most parts of the country wondering what it means.
However, Subaru has dropped the even more obscure "B9" designation from the Tribeca's name. (The "B" stood for the "boxer" engine with its horizontally opposed pistons that move toward each other like boxing gloves, and the "9" stood for the model series.)
The first Tribeca had controversial styling because its front end was reminiscent of racy Italian Alfa Romeo sports models, not sold in America for years. Many thought the styling didn't fit the Tribeca because crossovers are mostly mainstream vehicles with conventional styling.
Livelier Highway Performance
Subaru was well aware of styling resistance from the public and media and thus the 2007 model's grille inserts went from chrome to matte black to tone down the controversial front end, and some got mesh inserts.
However, major changes to the early 2008 Tribeca should make it even more competitive in the growing crossover market.
Also new are rear three-quarter windows and larger, reshaped outside mirrors. There's different rear styling with a new valance below the tailgate and wider taillights.
Two Trim Levels
The Limited has items including power front seats, leather upholstery and a power tilt/sliding glass sunroof. But even the Base trim level is well-equipped with a good amount of comfort, convenience and safety items, including front-seat side airbags and front- and second-row side-curtain airbags.
Included among options are a navigation system, rear vision camera, remote starter and satellite radio. The 7-passenger version has an optional DVD entertainment system.
More Potent Engine
The smoother new engine has more torque and a flatter torque curve that rises more quickly at the low end. The result is faster, more responsive acceleration, especially at highway speeds. The engine also has improved response, thanks to variable valve timing on intake and exhaust valves.
With higher fuel prices, it's nice to know that the engine can run on 87-octane gasoline instead of the premium gas that the old engine required.
The EPA's lower fuel economy numbers for 2008 vehicles are 16 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway for the Tribeca. Its weight of 4,129-4,182 pounds holds down economy.
The engine is mated to a revised, responsive 5-speed automatic transmission with a new control unit for smoother, faster shifts. There's also a manual shift feature.
A recalibrated rear suspension with new bushings helps allow a better ride, and the anti-lock brakes with a brake assist feature provide short, responsible stops.
Easy entry and exit is helped by a low floor. Even the back doors open wide, so awkward moves aren't needed to get in or out.
Front seats are generally comfortable but need more side support when the Tribeca is snaking through curves.
The windshield is big, but has thick posts that partly obstruct vision when turning corners. Climate controls are large, but it takes too long to use the audio controls with the dashboard screen.
Large Cargo Area
The hood operates smoothly on twin struts, and the engine compartment has easily reached fluid filler areas.
The new Tribeca no longer will stand out in parking lots with its more subdued styling, but otherwise it's a better vehicle than its predecessor.