2012 Subaru Tribeca TouringClick to View Gallery
April 27, 2012 / By Donny Nordlicht, Jennifer Misaros, Joe DeMatio, Phil Floraday
Ah, the Subaru Tribeca. This is the strangest product available at a Subaru dealership. You'd be forgiven for forgetting the Tribeca is still on sale since hardly anyone buys them and the product hasn't seen a meaningful update in several years. This nameplate has to be on the do-not-refresh list and I expect it to quietly fade away very soon.
Despite its pathetic fuel economy and lack of marketing attention, the Tribeca is reasonably good to drive. There's adequate power, decent body control, and a comfortable ride. The Tribeca does lots of things pretty well, but it doesn't excel in any category. That's just a recipe to be forgotten. Every other vehicle in this segment has some key characteristic that makes it worthy of purchase. The Tribeca is just average to good in every respect except fuel economy, which is a bad place to be worst-in-class these days.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
Although its current face and reshaped rear windows are far more appealing than those of the first-generation car, Subaru's Tribeca has registered on the radar of few consumers looking for a mid-size utility vehicle. After spending a weekend with the car, I can understand why. Although there is nothing the Tribeca does poorly, there is not much that it does particularly well. Plus, in appearance and character, there is little about the Tribeca, other than its badge, that says "Subaru." While its vehicles have become more mainstream, the perception of Subaru as a fringe brand is still intact and the Tribeca embodies none of the quirky ruggedness or uniqueness that built the Subaru brand.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
The Tribeca is old, with little to recommend it other than Subaru's reputation for quality and reliability. It's an anonymous three-row crossover with a very cramped third-row seat. It's so anonymous that, in a crowded and dark parking lot, I couldn't find it; I saw a glimpse of a grille that could have been it, but I concluded it was a Chrysler Pacifica. I pushed the unlock button on the key fob and what I thought was the Pacifica chirped its horn and flashed its lights, and then I remembered that Subaru had copied the look of the Pacifica when it got rid of the Tribeca's original, ugly, aviation-inspired grille. Is there anything positive to say? Well, yes: the interior ergonomics are excellent; temperature, fan settings, radio dials, etc., all are easy to operate.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The Tribeca stands out in our collective memories from its debut back in 2005, when it was supposed to herald both a new naming scheme and face for Subaru. Its original moniker - B9 Tribeca - was shortened to just Tribeca in 2008 at which time is also got a mild facelift to rectify the strange, three-port grille. At least people had been talking about it until the facelift - there's no such thing as bad PR, right? - it's just too bad that the Tribeca went from offensively ugly to offensively anonymous. What the Tribeca does have going for it is that its price undercuts almost all of its three-row crossover competition. Equivalent versions of Honda's Pilot, Toyota's Highlander, and Ford's Explorer all run north of the Tribeca's price tag; only the Hyundai Veracruz and the Dodge Journey come in cheaper.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor