Short Take Road Test: 2008 Subaru Tribeca Limited
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2014.
By Tony Swan of Car and Driver
The folks at Subaru tell us that buyers of their first-ever full-size crossover perceived the, uh, distinctive styling of the B9 Tribeca to be cool. But after just two years on the market, the Tribeca gets a big face lift, a look that's a distinct retreat from the offbeat original. What's up with that? There were too few of those buyers with a taste for bizarre, that's what.
There's more here than mere cosmetic surgery. Subaru has reworked the original flat-six engine (lifted from the Legacy parts bin), increasing the bore 2.8 millimeters and the stroke by 11, which raises the displacement from 3.0 liters to 3.6. More displacement, plus variable valve timing on both cams, equals more muscle: 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque versus the 245 horsepower and 219 pound-feet of the smaller six.
More muscle equals more go: With a curb weight of 4230 pounds, essentially the same as the B9 Tribeca we tested in July 2005, the updated version smoothes its way to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds and the quarter-mile in 16.1 at 87 mph. The original recorded 8.9 seconds and 17.1 at 83, respectively, and the uptick puts the Tribeca on an equal performance footing with Honda's Pilot, the gold standard of this class. There's also a fuel-cost benefit. EPA forecasts remain the same—16 mpg city, 21 highway—but the 3.6 runs on regular whereas its predecessor needed premium.
Daring also applies to the pricing. A basic five-passenger Tribeca starts at $30,640, more than an all-wheel-drive Honda Pilot VP. And the seven-passenger edition starts at $31,640, which is about the same as the base price for an all-wheel-drive version of the much bigger GMC Acadia. But for those who value quiet competence, creamy ride, competitive performance, and solid structure, the revised Tribeca figures as much more of a player than its predecessor.
C/D TEST RESULTS: