First launched as a 2006 model, named "B9 Tribeca," Subaru's largest crossover SUV wagon never quite developed the appeal of the company's smaller Forester. Tribeca also failed to attract as much notice as the midsize Legacy/Outback or compact Impreza. As sales vice-president Tim Colbeck explained when the 2008 model debuted, losing the original "B9" prefix, Tribeca "had a polarizing design." Some people liked the look, while others shunned it.
Styling changed significantly for 2008, including replacement of the B9's curious grille with a wider horizontal-bar unit. Visibility improved at that time, helped by larger rear quarter windows. Tribecas came with either five- or seven-passenger seating.
Developing what Subaru called "significantly more torque" in its 2008 rendition, Subaru's trademark horizontally-opposed ("boxer") six-cylinder engine grew to 3.6-liter displacement, yielding 256 horsepower. Again equipped with "symmetrical" all-wheel drive, the Tribeca used a five-speed automatic transmission.
Seven-passenger seating became standard for 2010, when the Tribeca came in three trim levels: Limited, Premium, and top-of-the-line Touring. Little changed for the 2011 model year. Six airbags and stability control are standard, as are heated front seats.
Driving impressions haven't changed significantly since Tirekicking Today reported on the 2008 Tribeca, from a Preview Drive event. Solid and civilized, the 2011 Tribeca provides ample energy, delivered in a smoothly flowing manner without interruption. Though the ride is not genteel, it comes close to carlike. Easy to maneuver, the Tribeca handles almost like a compact model - but not quite.
Occupants get plenty of room all around, and nicely-illuminated gauges are easy to read. The flowing center console contains well-marked controls, though they're excessive in number and more stylish than necessary.
Prices start at $31,220 (including destination charge) for the Premium edition. Topping the line is the Touring model, at $36,520. Options include a navigation system and DVD entertainment.
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