Subaru B9 Tribeca car review
Thursday 13 March 2008
Ten Point Test
Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 75%
Subaru is a manufacturer which has traded on its ability produce quality four wheel drive vehicles for many years, although the B9 Tribeca is the Japanese marque’s first SUV.
The Subaru B9 Tribeca is unique in the market for being the only model to offer a ‘boxer’ engine; a layout which Subaru says lowers the centre of gravity for improved handling.
1. Looks 7/10
Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, so the Subaru B9 Tribeca’s looks divide opinion like few other cars on the road. Some love its unique styling, while others criticise its bulbous grinning face and unduly curvy rear end. There’s no denying the Tribeca has presence though. It turns heads on every journey. It is a big car, especially in width, but it’s lower and looks sleeker than the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90.
2. Looks inside 7/10
The curvaceous theme continues in the cabin, where the dash swoops in front of driver and passenger down into the centre console, which in turn flows between the seats – a nice diversion from Germanic-style sobriety. The convex shape of the centre console means the buttons on the passenger side can be tricky to reach. And at night they’re difficult to read too, with vivid red illumination. The leather seats look like quality products, and were very comfortable; although the beige leather was too yellow, so the grey leather might be the better option.
3. Practicality 9/10
The Subaru B9 Tribeca is available in five and seven seat configurations, something which is becoming de rigeur in this class. The second row of seats slide back and forth, increasing boot space or legroom, and fold flat into the floor when not in use. There’s a good amount of space in the back and front for five adults to sit in comfort. In seven seat guise, the rear seats fold out of the floor, but they don’t offer masses of legroom.
Boot space ranges from 128 litres if the third row of seats is in place to 450 (7-seater) or 525 litres (5-seater). Fold all the rear seats, and space rises to an exceptionally useful 1,671 litres (slightly less for the 7-seater). The boot floor is flush with the boot sill, meaning loading heavy objects is easy, and some hidden under-floor storage areas keep rarely-used bits out of the way.
4. Ride and Handling 8/10
Subaru boasts its Vehicle Dynamics Control system monitors excessive front/rear and side-to-side movements and loss of traction, but few owners will spend their time in a Tribeca exploring the limits of grip. It simply doesn’t have the ground clearance to be a credible off-road car. Where it is better is on the motorway, where its ride quality shines, and on gentle bends where the engine’s low centre of gravity means body roll is well contained. Having said that, it won’t give the sporty SUV benchmark, the BMW X5, much to worry about.
5. Performance 7/10
Just one engine is on offer in the B9 Tribeca: a 3-litre ‘boxer’ petrol engine. Borrowed from the Subaru Legacy, the Tribeca’s engine has been modified to suit the demands of powering an SUV; i.e. more weight. It feels lively, and while it’ll win no straight line drag races, is quick enough for most people’s needs. It’ll reach 62mph from rest in 9.3 seconds, before reaching 121mph; which is slower than expected, thanks to being hampered by a slow-to-react automatic gearbox. Erratic and slow gearchanges were improved slightly by selecting the sport mode, or shifting gears through the semi-automatic function.
6. Running Costs 6/10
Starting at a shade under £29,000, the Subaru B9 Tribeca undercuts the Nissan Murano by about £1,000. But it’ll cost another £3,000 to opt for the SE5 model, and another £2,000 for the seven seat SE7, which makes it a little costly. The real costs relate to fuel and emissions. Without a diesel option the car’s appeal is limited as Subaru quote an average fuel consumption figure of just 23mpg, while CO2 emissions of 291g/km place it in the top band G, which currently costs £400 a year; and will rise to £440 from April 2009.
7. Reliability 8/10
Subarus can put up with a fair amount of abuse and its slightly below average performance in the Reliability Index is generally due to the (rather high) cost rather than (rather low) frequency of breakdowns.
8. Safety 8/10
The Subaru B9 Tribeca hasn’t been put through the EuroNCAP crash test programme, but it has achieved a full five stars for front and side crash protect by NCAP’s American equivalent. It comes with front, side and curtain airbags as standard and a rollover sensor will activate the curtain ‘bags and front seatbelt pretensioners if the car is about to turn over.
9. Equipment 9/10
The entire Subaru B9 Tribeca comes well-equipped, even on the entry-level model. Electric, folding and heated mirrors, 18-inch alloys, front and rear electric windows, six CD in-dash stereo, cruise control, and climate control air-con are all standard. Leather seats are standard on the SE7 model, while integrated touch screen sat-nav and reversing camera are standard on both SE models.
10. X-Factor 7/10
Spacious and brisk the Subaru B9 Tribeca might be, but many will not look past its quirky appearance. Although if being different is high on your priorities, it may be the SUV for you.
Model tested: Subaru B9 Tribeca 3.0 SE5
On the road price: £31,995
Price range: £28,995 – £33,995
Date tested: March 2008
Road tester: Stuart Milne