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2007 Subaru B9 Tribeca
Stylish Crossover SUV but Needs Power

by  Keith Burton

When I first saw the 2007 Subaru Tribeca in photos I was immediately struck by the styling Subaru had chosen for their first big CUV. From the side view to the rear flanks, the Tribeca was something truly good looking. It has a sophisticated appearance that continues around the windows and into the interior. But then my eyes caught the front end and did an abrupt halt. There in the front were three openings with the largest in the center looking as if it was the update to the ancient Ford Edsel. Not a good thing.

What we found as we drove the Tribeca around, was that most people didn't really mind the front end styling and most had never even seen an Edsel, who's front end was once compared to the urinals in men's rooms. In fact, most people thought the front end styling was okay.

Inside the B9 Tribeca is a study in great styling. The dash sweeps across the interior in two arches with curves nicely flowing down the center console. Switch gear and vents are elegantly arranged and are wonderfully backlit at night with red and white lights. The center map is easy to see and the temperature controls for the driver and passenger seat are uniquely illuminated with clear digital displays. It is a very upscale look. The seats are comfortable for both the front and rear seat passengers, though the third row seat should only be left to children you don't like.

It is hard to get back there, as access is very limited, and if you move the second row seats up for some legroom in the third row, your second row passengers may actually complain. The third row is best left for very occasional use.

Quick View:

§         Attractive overall styling but with polarizing front end

§         Very cool interior, especially at night with nice red and white backlit controls

§         Drives easy, very carlike

§         Underpowered, hesitates badly when gas pedal is first pushed, then revs quickly to redline

§         Very smooth flat six engine but low on torque

§         Third row seat is nearly unusable, hard to enter, very little legroom, but with seats folded, there is plenty of storage space

§         Sophisticated all-wheel drive system makes the B9 surefooted in snow and loose sand

§         Transmission has nice manumatic feature

§         Very comfortable seating for the main occupants in the front and middle row seats

§         Very cool night lighting feature when you open the doors, bright LED’s light the area around the doors on the ground.

§         Overall good fit and finish

§         Strong brakes and very surefooted on the road.

 

There is clearly some nifty thinking behind the B9 Tribeca. When you open the doors at night, very bright LED lights shine from beneath the rocker panels to light the pavement below, very cool.

The gauge cluster is easy to see, but he liquid crystal displays for the fuel and temperature, while neat to look at, are a bit obscured by the steering wheel.

On the road, the Tribeca is mostly a smooth cruiser. Its 245 horsepower flat-six boxer engine is well known for smooth and quiet performance, but in the Tribeca, its low 215 ft.lbs. of torque is not enough for this vehicle. Off the line, there is an alarming pause as the boxer engine gathers momentum, then the engine races practically to its redline to get you underway. The pause is enough to make you wonder if the engine is actually there. But once underway, there is plenty of power, though the transmission will be doing a lot of shifting if you are heavy of foot.

Braking and steering efforts are light and communicative and there is the typical excellent fit and finish that Subaru has become known for. But this remains a vehicle that has the also well-know Subaru quirks. But I like them. The Tribeca's all wheel drive system is transparent to the users, but shines in snow and sandy conditions. It is also a sure-footed CUV in rainy conditions and contributes to what makes this vehicle different that other less surefooted CUVs. Overall, I judge the ride and handling better than most. It isn't a sportscar type of feel, but it is confidence inspiring, especially on slick roads.

Subaru has heard from its customers on the Tribeca and for 2008, the company has a new grill ready to go and more power for the engine. We will likely get the '08 model to review at a later date and we will see if the changes work well.

Overall, I like the Tribeca. It is nice to look at, especially the interior, and it drives and performs well. One additional area that needs improvement though is mileage. While rated at 18 city 23 highway, I never saw more that 16 mpg in combined city and highway driving, and that was even when I tried to go easy.
 

Basic Specifications

Body 5- or 7-passenger SUV

Wheelbase 108.2 in.

Length 189.8 in.

Engine DOHC H6, 3.0-liter

Horsepower 245 @ 6,600 rpm

Torque 215 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm

Price Range: $32,000 - $38,000

 

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