Flash Drive: 2009 Subaru Tribeca
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2014.
By Staff of MSN Autos
Leveraging the Outback's platform and a 6-cylinder boxer engine, the 7-passenger Tribeca is a great alternative for growing families that have outgrown the smaller Outback and Forester models. The Tribeca is only several inches longer, wider and taller than the Outback, but that translates into more passenger room and storage room. The bigger size and larger engine unfortunately sacrifice gas mileage, which proved to be 18 mpg. Inside, there is a nice mix of leather and plastic accents with a sleek, chrome-looking dashboard. There is plenty of headroom and legroom in the front and back seats, though the third row is a little cramped. Driving the Tribeca is great, as the engine and transmission are very smooth. My only criticism is that there is a driver blind spot near the windshield and a-frame, when the driver is making a left turn. – Joe Chulick
Subaru has built its reputation with small, reliable, sometimes quirky vehicles with all-wheel-drive capability. The Tribeca is the largest vehicle ever sold by Subaru in the U.S. and arguably the most mainstream. The original exterior styling was definitely quirky and almost universally panned, while the interior was highly praised. Subaru quickly corrected the exterior with a series of changes that resulted in a very conservative design while leaving the interior alone to create a serious contender in the midsize crossover segment. For 2009, the 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine has been revised for more low-end torque, which definitely improves off-the-line acceleration, and with the horizontally opposed layout, the Tribeca carries its weight low for a very stable feel. Subaru's standard all-wheel drive adds to driver confidence in all weather conditions. – Mike Meredith
The Subaru Tribeca looks great on the outside, but not quite so good on the inside. With small foot wells, large seats and a high floor, clambering into this pseudo-SUV feels like crawling into a cave. Once inside, however, the seating positions are actually quite roomy. The materials are obviously designed to handle a lot of rough treatment, yet they manage to feel comfortable and pleasant. The controls are all easy to reach, and the center console and climate controls are very well-laid-out and easy to use. Conversely, it's a pity that the exterior doesn't work as well as it looks; the sporty styling leaves the Tribeca with enormous blind spots over the driver's shoulder, and the oversized side mirrors don't do enough to compensate. – Paul Hagger