Another review of the Tribeca from US News & World Report:
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
Please-no muddy boots
By Richard J. Newman
Nits: The sound system is weak for an upscale vehicle. At full volume, with the windows down on the highway, it's only moderately loud.
G forces: Road performance is outstanding. The 250-horsepower "boxer" six-cylinder engine powers the Tribeca comfortably through the full range of off-the-line bursts, on-ramp accelerations, and passing maneuvers. Handling is great for a tall vehicle, with stiff cornering that makes this "SUV" feel like a car on most curves. Even if it were a sedan, the Tribeca would be agile.
Gizmology: Subaru calls the Tribeca's interior layout a "twin cockpit" design, with each of the front seats equipped to feel like its own personal habitat. Very hip, but it also creates some awkward ergonomics. The dash curves inward on each side from the center console, yet half the radio preset buttons, for instance, are on the passenger side. That's a stretch for someone in the driver's seat. Standard steering-wheel controls for the radio make up for the reach somewhat. Otherwise, controls are solid and easy to use, with key info nicely displayed in the digital screen on the dash.
Kidmarks: The Tribeca has many flexible features parents will love. The back seat divides 60/40, with each side capable of sliding forward or back 8 inches, offering more legroom for adults and a closer fit for babies or kids in boosters. The rear seat also reclines, perfect for naps. Cupholders are in the middle armrest. The optional third-row seat is one of the tightest I've ever seen, but it still provides seven-passenger capacity if the third-seaters are roughly 10 or younger.
Hot or not: Hot. Because it's different, not especially elegant.
Envirometer: Not yet rated for pollution or tailpipe emissions by the EPA. Mileage ratings range from 18 mpg/city to 23 mpg/highway. One downer: Requires premium fuel.
Crash course: Not yet crash-tested by the government or by private testing groups. Three sets of airbags, including side-impact and side-curtain bags, are standard.
Price points: Base prices range from $31,320 to $34,520. Price as tested: Approximately $39,000. (All prices include delivery fees.)
So where does the Outback end and the Tribeca begin? On the surface, Subaru's avant-garde new flagship vehicle–which the automaker calls its first SUV–looks nothing like the Legacy or Outback wagons that were among the first successful "crossover" vehicles on the market. The Tribeca's needle-nose front grille and buxom cabin represent the edgiest styling seen in an SUV since the Nissan Murano debuted three years ago. Inside, a swooshy dashboard spills onto the door panels, as if enveloping the occupants in an artistic statement. Fiddling with the Tribeca's knobs and buttons feels like participating in an interactive art-gallery exhibit.
Could this be the same Subaru that surfers, skiers, campers, and assorted friends of Mother Earth have grown to love so dearly? Actually, yes. The Tribeca is indeed festooned with creature features–some will say artifices–that Subaru's core customers may disdain, such as accent lighting in the doors and foot wells, two-zone air conditioning, a moonroof, and a seven-inch digital screen for radio, climate control, and other vehicle information. This is simply the way the market is going, however. Virtually every automaker, from Kia to Volkswagen, has been offering more higher-priced "luxury" models, to capitalize on consumers who seem willing to carve out ever more of their monthly paycheck for a swank ride. And with a third-row seat available as an option, the Tribeca offers at least one thing the Outback doesn't: It's an alternative to a minivan. Subaru is targeting the same upscale family buyers that Chrysler has gone after with the Pacifica, and Ford with the Freestyle.
Still, the Outback does much of what the Tribeca can do, just a little less noticeably–and for about $6,000 less. The Tribeca comes with standard 18-inch tires, two sizes larger than the base-level Outback, for a more grippy, stable-feeling ride. But the Tribeca's ground clearance, 8.4 inches, is the same as the Outback's. And the Tribeca is equipped with all-wheel drive similar to that found on other Subarus, rather than full-blown four-wheel drive, the standard for true off-roaders. There's more flexibility in the Tribeca, with a rear seat that slides up and back 8 inches, for instance. And of course there are all those feel-good features. In many respects, the Tribeca resembles the glamorous, supertrendy Manhattan neighborhood it's named after. It's much more than utilitarian, and the style and glitz are worth something, even to Subaruskis. But the Tribeca will get you up to the cabin no more effectively than any other Subaru. You'll just look more chic as you emerge from the vehicle.