2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca review
A step up in size and luxury from the Subaru Outback, the B9 Tribeca is a logical progression of the Subaru model lineup with all of the right stuff to take on its toughest competition in the crossover SUV segment.
Seven-passenger seating, standard all-wheel drive, swift acceleration, all essential safety features come standard, most refined Subaru to date.
Unusual styling may limit mass appeal, less third-row and cargo room than competitors, soft handling, pricey for a Subaru.
What's New for 2006
Subaru introduces its new flagship vehicle, the seven-passenger Subaru B9 Tribeca. It's a car-based SUV designed off a stretched version of the Legacy/Outback platform.
About the size of a Lexus RX 330, the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca is an SUV with optional seven-passenger seating that's designed to go up against the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot. With its slight wheel flares, high rear beltline and snubbed front end and airplane-shaped grille, the Tribeca is the first Subaru to receive new design elements that are expected to carry over to future models. Its unusual name is not without real meaning, B stands for boxer engine, and nine is an internal chassis designation. It is also the largest and most expensive Subaru ever, with prices starting over $30,000 for the five-passenger model and over $37,000 for a seven-passenger Tribeca Limited. The B9 Tribeca is based on a stretched and widened version of the Subaru Outback platform. The new body structure is 22-percent more rigid, with a 55-percent increase in bending stiffness. That taut structure combines with a revised front suspension and a new double-wishbone rear suspension, which replaces the Outback's multilink setup, to provide a compliant ride. The Tribeca easily soaks up bumps, even over a rutted stretch of dirt and gravel road. Like all Subarus, the Tribeca is offered with only all-wheel drive. Power comes from the same 3.0-liter horizontally opposed boxer six-cylinder engine also found in the Outback. It's rated at 250 hp and 219 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a highly modified version of the Outback's five-speed automatic transmission equipped with SportShift to allow manual shifting. Available in both five- and seven-passenger models, and in base or Limited trim, an elegant dash lays out more features than ever before available in a Subaru, including a stunning touchscreen GPS navigation system on the upper Limited trim. Standard is a 100-watt single CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers, while the Limited model upgrades to a 160-watt unit with in-dash six-disc CD changer with MP3 compatibility, eight upgraded speakers and a subwoofer. Second-row passengers will have no trouble getting comfortable with 34.3 inches of legroom, plus their seatbacks recline. Unfortunately, those in the third row aren't as lucky. With its limited legroom and obstacle course entry which forces passengers to climb over the corner of the second row, the third-row seat is for occasional use only. With its features combined, the Subaru B9 Tribeca offers an impressive overall package. Subaru's competent boxer engine and all-wheel-drive system combined with a lengthy list of standard safety equipment and a luxurious, feature-laden interior make this new flagship a vehicle worth considering, even among the top competitors.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The B9 Tribeca comes in five- or seven-passenger seating configurations with either base or Limited trim. Base five-passenger Tribecas come with a 100-watt AM/FM single-disc CD player, power front seats, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power moonroof and a tire-pressure monitoring system. The five-passenger Tribeca Limited adds leather seating and a 160-watt stereo with six-disc CD changer. Base seven-passenger Tribecas advance to a 50/50-split rear seat and heated front seats. Seven-passenger Tribeca Limiteds can be upgraded to include a navigation system, rear DVD entertainment system, or both.
Powertrains and Performance:
The all-wheel-drive B9 Tribeca uses the same 250-hp 3.0-liter horizontally opposed boxer six-cylinder engine found in the Outback mated to a highly modified version of the Outback's five-speed automatic transmission equipped with SportShift to allow manual shifting.
On the Subaru B9 Tribeca, everything relevant to safety is standard, including four-channel/four-sensor brakes with ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). Also standard is traction and stability controls, seat side-impact airbags and dual-stage deployment airbags in the front with an occupancy detector for the passenger seat, plus side curtain airbags to protect rear passengers. Crash test scores are not yet available.
Interior Design and Special Features:
All rear-seat riders are bound to enjoy the optional rear 9-inch DVD entertainment system with two sets of wireless headphones, remote control and auxiliary input for video games, an option on the seven-passenger Tribeca Limited. A 50/50-split third-row bench and 40/20/40-split second-row are standard, but cargo capacity is limited to 8.3 cubic feet with all seats up and expands to 37.6 cubic feet with the third row folded flat and 74.4 cubes with the second-row seatbacks folded forward. The Highlander and the Pilot offer a fair bit more.
Even with the Tribeca's substantial weight of 4,200-plus pounds, it's never at a loss for power. There's plenty of midrange muscle, and the Subie easily tackles varying road terrain. Subaru automatics have a tendency to hunt for gears during mountainous driving, but this is not the case in the Tribeca, as its reprogrammed transmission holds low gears when needed without early upshifts. Steering, however, is a bit light for a vehicle of such girth, which accentuates the Tribeca's heft. On the road, the Tribeca drives like a big, heavy truck.
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