Subaru brought a "revised" 2007 B9 Tribeca to the Chicago Auto Show. Changes to that model were almost invisible to the naked eye, and so it is with the one you'll see on dealers' lots. Black grille centers are listed as the most obvious design change, and Subaru added more content options, including a rollover sensor on all models.
Before the Tribeca, Subaru had never offered a model in the United States that could hold more than five occupants. The Tribeca can seat five or seven people.
The B9 Tribeca is equipped with standard symmetrical Variable Torque Distribution all-wheel drive. It's powered by an all-aluminum horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine, and the five-speed automatic transmission incorporates a Sportshift provision for manual gear changes.
Positioned above the company's Legacy and Outback, it is Subaru's largest model.
A central air intake dominates the front end and is flanked by twin "wings." For 2007, the grille centers are black and a Special Edition option package includes a new mesh grille design and chrome wheels.
Projector-beam headlights incorporate a series of cylindrical bulb housings. An upswept character line starts at the base of the A-pillar and extends back to the rear hatch, and the curved roofline slopes down at the rear. Elliptical taillamps positioned above dual exhaust outlets bring up the rear. Ground clearance is 8.4 inches.
The B9 Tribeca rides a 108.2-inch wheelbase that's 3 inches longer than the Outback's. It measures 189.8 inches long overall, 73.9 inches wide and 66.4 inches tall. The spare tire is mounted underneath the vehicle, and seven-spoke cast-aluminum wheels hold 18-inch tires.
For 2007, Subaru adds a host of options, including reverse-assist sensors, a remote starter and a rear cargo cover. There's also an optional rear-seat entertainment system with a 9-inch screen, wireless headphones and a remote.
Seating for either five or seven passengers is available. The second-row bench seat offers 8 inches of fore/aft travel and is split 40/20/40; each section can recline independently. When a 50/50-split third-row seat is installed, it can hold two additional occupants.
The appearance of the twin-cockpit interior echoes the front grille, and aluminum-look trim decorates the sculpted shapes of the dashboard. Large electroluminescent dials and a 7-inch navigation/information touch-screen are installed. An optional backseat entertainment system includes a DVD player and a 9-inch screen. Indirect floor lighting is installed. Rear air conditioning is standard in the seven-passenger model.
Standard equipment includes a moonroof, heated front seats, keyless entry and a 100-watt CD stereo with MP3 compatibility. Also, a center console auxiliary jack for portable audio players is standard. All Tribecas are wired for XM Satellite Radio, but only the Special Edition package includes it standard.
Under the Hood
The B9 Tribeca's 3.0-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder is mated to a five-speed automatic, which is the sole transmission. The B9 Tribeca can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.
For 2007, Subaru adds a standard rollover system that can detect a potential rollover and activate the side curtain airbags. Also, a new brake-assist system that applies the brakes with greater force in an emergency stop is standard. On models equipped with the navigation system, a rear vision camera is included.
Side-impact and first- and second-row side curtain airbags are standard. Standard antilock brakes incorporate electronic brake-force distribution, and a tire pressure monitoring system and the Vehicle Dynamics Control electronic stability system are installed.
In addition to the practical merits of all-wheel drive and available seven-passenger seating, the B9 Tribeca delivers energetic performance. Like the driving experience in general, automatic-transmission behavior is refined and satisfying. Subaru says it has revised the suspension for 2007 to provide a smoother ride. The new suspension has not been tested, but the previous suspension was noted for an unappealing ride over rough spots.
Steering is on the light side compared with some crossovers, but the B9 Tribeca maneuvers with impressive ease. The engine is usually quiet but develops a bit of a snarl during hard acceleration.
Third-row space is tight in seven-passenger models, and getting to that seat could be easier. Cargo space with all the seats raised is modest. Otherwise, flaws are few in Subaru's largest model. Electroluminescent gauges are easy to read, and the control layout — though hardly traditional — is effective.