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The Good :) All-wheel drive. Touch screen DVD Navigation w/rearview camera. Rear cabin auxiliary air conditioner. Soft leather seats. 5-star safety ratings.
The Bad :( Engine should be quieter, and smoother with more torque at low speeds. Low 3-year warranty. Highway ride needs improvement. No way to turn off navigation guidance when car is moving.
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Subaru is the latest manufacturer to join the SUV bandwagon, making the B9 Tribeca the first SUV from Subaru with seating for seven. About a year has gone by and still we do not see many Tribecas on the road, nevertheless Subaru is content on pushing forward their plan to eat a piece of the SUV pie. The Tribeca is aptly named for the region of New York City at the cutting edge of culture, while the B stands for the Boxer engine and the '9' for the model series.
The B9 Tribeca underscores the brand's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive leadership. With more brands adding All-Wheel Drive (AWD), it is worth noting that Subaru introduced AWD passenger cars more than 30 years ago and automatic full-time AWD nearly 20 years ago. Beginning in 1997, Subaru became the first brand in the U.S. to make AWD standard on all models. Subaru is quick to point out that their AWD system is quite unique. The Symmetrical AWD offers an ideal balance for greater stability and the design is more efficient at transmitting power than other systems.
Subaru is the only car company that features Symmetrical All-Wheel drive as standard equipment on every vehicle in its product line. Subaru's relatively low price point makes it the best-selling All-Wheel Drive car sold in America.
'The B9 Tribeca is more than just a new style of Subaru - it is a progressively designed SUV that combines the agile handling and safety found in Subaru sport wagons with expanded roominess and capability,' said Fred Adcock, Executive Vice President, Subaru of America. 'The B9 Tribeca is the logical step for a current Legacy or Outback owner looking to move up in vehicle size, feature content, and refinement, but without the bulk of a typical SUV. We also expect the B9 Tribeca to expand our brand appeal by offering a combination of room and flexibility not previously available from Subaru.'
Many changes are present in the 2007 model year B9 Tribeca so we highly suggest you buy this over a 2006 version that may be on dealer lots right now. The B9 is now available with seating for seven passengers. Also new is a redesigned black grille standard on all models or an option Special Edition package that features a silver mesh grill, chrome wheels and XM Satellite radio. This package includes a two position memory feature for the front power seats. Also new for 2007 is a standard auxiliary jack in the console to connect an Ipod or any other music device. Subaru has further refined the ride on all 2007 models. The front and rear suspensions have been softened for a smoother ride. For anyone choosing the DVD navigation system, you will be happy to know that now it comes with a rear view camera. Or you can order just the rear bumper sensors as a stand alone option.
The exterior design of the B9 Tribeca is definitely unique with its Alfa-Romeo-like front nose design. The overall shape of the B9 is sleek and compact, not overly large such as other king size seven-passenger SUVs on the road today. In our grey metallic color the B9 looked smooth and the chrome wheels together with the chrome door handles looked very sharp. Most panels have a lot of curves that you can appreciate best in person and we have tried to show this to you in our photos. Slightly bulging wheel arches signify power and presence. The front headlamps are modern and distinctive with large low mounted fog lamps lighting up the road nicely. Turn signals in the rearview mirrors are clear to look more like chrome as well. The tail end is curved nicely with the combination of windows ending in an upward curve and the body paneling curving outward. The rear hatch is also styled similarly with an outward bulge and small thin eye-like taillights. Two chrome tipped exhaust outlets give the B9 a sporty appearance at the rear as well. Overall the shape is quite sporty once you get over the nose on the grille. Subaru could have designed a SUV that was similar to the design of its cars and perhaps that would have made the B9 more appealing in front. We suggest that the headlights and front hood be made rounder and a elongated front grill that is not the center point of the design be used.
The interior of the B9 Tribeca is quite stylish and modern. The flowing dash is something would expect to see only in a concept car. The designers tried to give the B9 an aircraft cockpit like feel. Our sense of touch first felt the soft leather inside the B9. There is a leather covered steering wheel and a leather covered shift knob. In typical Subaru style, all interior parts have an upscale feeling. We would like the doors to feel more solid when opening and closing. A cool feature is viewed upon starting up the B9 especially at night; the bright red needles in the instrument cluster spin all the way around and then the dash illuminates making for a nice show each time you turn the ignition key. Look for this in our video of the B9 Tribeca.
Inside dash trim is made of plastic in a silver color. Making this out of wood could bring the interior to new levels. The driver has a multifunction steering wheel offering control of the stereo system. There is a two-position memory function for remembering seat position as well as mirror position. The windows are automatic up and down for driver position only, and it would be nice if this were carried out to all positions as we see in other cars priced above $25,000. The central dash is within easy reach and is quite simple to understand quickly. We did not need to pull out the owner's manual to find ourselves around this interior except for the navigation system. A 6-disc CD change is built into the dash along with satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack for an Ipod. A Bluetooth cell phone connection is the only thing missing.
The climate control system is dual zone and automatic. The futuristic looking digital gauges and dials feel good to the touch when used. The climate control system worked well and was relatively quiet throughout our experience. The benefit for rear sear passengers having their own fan setting was quite useful and with four vents located on the roof there was plenty of air for everyone.
The Limited model of the B9 Tribeca offers a touch screen DVD based navigation system with rear view camera. The center console is dominated by a seven-inch vehicle information touch-screen that groups the readouts for the audio system, clock, fuel economy, outside temperature, and navigation system. Each time you shift into reverse, a large color display shows you what is behind the vehicle along with beeps to warn you of anything nearby. There are actual reference lines showing one, two and three meter increments and well as vehicle width to help you reverse without hitting anything. The screen is located high enough so you can easily view it while driving. On either side of the screen are 2 icons for air bags and doors open which could have been eliminated and the screen made much wider. Look at our photos and video for more on this.
Overhead the sunroof is modern yet not as good as those from Germany. You must hold the open button for two seconds to automatically open the sunroof all the way and same for closing, however, the sunroof does stop halfway and then you must hold the button again. It would be easier it was all in one dial as in German vehicles. A sunglass holder is also located up here along with sun visors which have an extension for better coverage. There is ample storage space in the center console and in the armrest and doors. Large bottle holders in the doors are a nice touch.
The seats are comfortable up front and are power adjustable. Height is not adjustable in the front passenger seat, something that should be offered. Seat belts are adjustable so they do not bother your neck and are relatively tight compared to other cars which keep them loose until needed. Rear seat passengers have a 40/20/40 folding seat which offers nice deep seat bottom cushions. Seats in back are a bit too flat and hard to be optimal for us. The leather is soft but that does not overcome the fact that you do get tired sitting in the back for a long trip. Also a small issue is that the rear seat headrests are too small and hard and do not stop at the right point for most drivers.
The optional rear-seat entertainment system consists of a large, nine-inch LCD screen and DVD player featuring remote inputs for video games and a video camera. The screen is very thin and sleek, and the remote is easy to use as well. They wireless headphones worked great and were very loud. It was quite enjoyable to use the headphones and watch a movie on the large screen. This was a system designed much better than most we have used thus far in vehicles.
Interior door material is a hard plastic with some plastic made to look like aluminum. Door pulls feel good as well. Lacking are nice handles to grab onto on all passenger doors. We also felt that the door was a bit light feeling and did not have a strong ‘thud' closing sound that you see on other vehicles in this price range. Roof material is the knitted textured fabric that we like over the 'fuzzy stuff' used many other vehicles.
The third row of seating can split 50/50 and is good enough for limited travel with small children in back. The seats lack legroom unless you slide the second row forward giving everyone little legroom. It was kind of difficult to fold and move the seats forward as well because they were too heavy and lacked any assistance in the sliding mechanism by springs. With rear and third-row seats folded, maximum cargo space measures 74.4 cu. ft. Cargo room measures 37.6 cu. ft. behind the rear seat and 8.3 cu. ft. behind the third seat in 7-passenger models.
At night the instrument cluster glows white with red surrounding the dials. The digital temperature and fuel gauge also looks very nice. All buttons are lit up so all text is a beautiful glowing red color with some dials having red rings surrounding them. Even the buttons on the steering wheel are lit up at night.
The 250-hp 3.0-liter boxer engine produces 219 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,200 rpm. Maximum horsepower is generated at 6,600 rpm with premium fuel. Technology contributing to the performance characteristics of the engine includes Active Valve Control System (AVCS), Variable Valve Timing, Active Valve Lift System (AVLS) and a variable controlled intake manifold.
Subaru states that there is a broad torque curve that delivers the linear power feeling that is characteristic of a higher-displacement engine. However we felt that the engine lacked the muscle to really move the car when fully loaded with seven passengers and cargo. The engine does rev at high RPMs when you push it and that causes a lot of noise in the cabin. When traveling at over 75 mph, the driver gets the feeling as if you're going much faster, this is quite disheartening. If there is one downside to the B9, it's the way the engine feels when driving fast, change this and you have a very good SUV.
To the benefit of both sporty performance and dynamic design, the B9 Tribeca features standard 18 x 8-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 255/55 R18 Goodyear Eagle LS2 all-season tires. The B9 Tribeca benefits from even further gains in rigidity over the new-generation Outback: a 22-percent increase in torsional rigidity and a 55-percent increase in bending stiffness. An all-new double wishbone rear suspension system replaces the multi-link configuration found in the Outback, providing more interior room for the available third-row seat while preserving crisp, agile handling and a smooth ride.
Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system distributes power automatically to all four wheels as needed to maintain traction. The driver isn't required to shift a lever or press a button, so they can remain focused on the road ahead. The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system can vary the amount of power sent to each wheel at all speeds. Behind the wheel the system gives an even feeling of balance while accelerating. You also feel confident taking turns quickly and when driving in inclement weather because you have all wheel drive.
The VTD version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive utilizes a planetary gear-type center differential and an electronically controlled hydraulic transfer clutch to control power distribution between the front and rear wheels. Under most conditions, the VTD system splits the power 45:55, with the rearward bias contributing to sporty, agile handling. The VTD system continually optimizes power distribution in response to driving conditions.
Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) is a highly sophisticated stability system that actively controls the center differential's power distribution as part of its function. VDC ensures torque distribution to the appropriate wheel based on input from steering wheel angle, yaw and lateral g-force sensors. The system also monitors input from the ABS brake system, adjusting individual wheel braking as needed, helping to maintain vehicle control under a variety of driving conditions. Integrated with VDC, the 4-wheel electronic traction control system (TCS) provides an extra layer of handling control without impeding VTD All-Wheel Drive operation.
Overall the B9 Tribeca drives great in city and day to day driving. There is some body sway evident which should be controlled by thicker sway bars and by giving more support to the bottom cushion in all seats. At high speeds the Subaru felt weak and would shake. There was also a feeling that you were going much faster than your actual speed, something that is lacking in German cars. When you are going 65 and feel like you are going 85, something needs to be improved. The engine makes too much noise and feels weak when passing on the highway as well and we find this in most Subaru products. If this could be addressed the overall vehicle would be highly improved.
The ride should also be improved even more to create less NVH inside the cabin as the SUV driver is not looking for a rallying experience. We think that either Subaru should go for a totally sporty SUV or a very luxurious one. Trying to please everyone in the middle is just too hard. An air suspension or magnetic suspension would do wonders for the ride. And better rear seating with more legroom when the third row is not being used would make the passengers more comfortable.
The B9 Tribeca earned the highest rating in the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) with 5-stars in both the frontal and side-impact crash tests for both the driver and passenger seating positions. These results are in addition to the 4-star rating in the NHTSA tests for rollover resistance.
For 2007, Subaru has further bolstered B9 Tribeca safety technology, equipping all models with a new Rollover Sensor system that detects a potential vehicle rollover and deploys the standard side curtain airbags and automatically tightens the seat belts.
In addition, the new Brake Assist joins the extensive roster of dynamic handling technology, which already includes four-channel ABS brakes, Vehicle Dynamics Control and four-wheel traction control. Brake Assist analyzes the force and stroke velocity on the brake pedal and increases hydraulic boost to provide enhanced emergency braking.
A 3-year 36,000 mile basic and 5-year 60,000 mile powertrain warranty is offered. Included is 5-years of rust perforation. The warranty also includes 3-years of Subaru roadside assistance.
Our test car started off at base price of $37,295. Optional items were the cargo convenience group which provided a cargo area spotlight, a cargo net and a cargo tray for $142. The auto dimming rearview mirror with compass and a shock sensor for the security system is together in Popular Equipment Group 1 for $293. The Protection Group 2 was added for $328 and included a front bumper underguard, bumper cover, and all weather floor mats. Rear backup sensors are another $325. The Special Edition package with chrome wheels and mesh grille along with XM satellite radio adds $1,295. Destination charge is $625 and brings our total to $40,303. The US and Canadian parts content of the B9 Tribeca is 45%. Japan provides 45% of all parts. The B9 is made in Lafayette, Indiana and the engine and transmission come from Japan. EPA mileage is shown as 18 city and 23 highway while our average was only 17.4mpg during our testing on both highway and country roads.
Subaru has been very successful, especially in the Northeast, with its all wheel drive wagons. Subaru hopes that many of these loyal customers will upgrade to a larger SUV and stay in the Subaru family. While this strategy sounds good on paper, we are not quite sure it would work in real life. The reason these people bought a Subaru in the first place was because it was AWD and offered the same cargo room as a much larger SUV but was not a true SUV. Many of the owners like to drive sedans, not SUVs, and this is why Subaru has been very successful selling wagons, more so than any other manufacturer. Why get a SUV when you can have the similar cargo room plus the AWD system in a better handling and more fuel efficient sedan? It's a good first attempt by Subaru to make a premium and highly advanced SUV; however the exterior front-end design lacks an upscale panache and the interior swooping cockpit design may last only a short time before it goes out of style. There is stiff competition in the SUV sector and Subaru will have a tough time getting their piece of the pie.
|T3F Convenience Group 1||205||214|
|T3 Convenience Group 4, Cargo (PIO) 7-Passenger Models Includes Cargo Net, Cargo Tray & Cargo Comp't Spot Light.||86||142|
|T25 Popular Equipment Group 1 Includes Inside Automatic Day/Night Mirror & Security System Shock Sensor||190||293|
|T42 Protection Group 2 Includes Rear Bumper Cover, Front Bumper Underguard & F&R & Center Floor Mats.||211||328|
|T47 Special Edition Pkg Includes Chrome Wire Mesh Grille, XM Radio Feature & Chrome Alloy Wheels.||1,100||1,295|
|GL Entertainment System Limited 7-Passenger Includes DVD Player w/Game Input, (2) Wireless Headphones, LCD Monitor & Remote Control.||1,661||1,800|
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