2011 Subaru Tribeca

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$8,606–$18,118 USED Shop local deals
(4.5) 4 reviews
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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2011 Subaru Tribeca. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Smooth, comfy ride
  • Original yet functional dashboard design
  • Safety ratings

The Bad

  • Non-telescoping steering wheel
  • Narrow side mirrors
  • Side curtain airbags don't cover third row
  • Center dash vents can't be closed
  • Seat memory doesn't remember side-mirror position

Notable Features of the 2011 Subaru Tribeca

  • 256-hp flat-six engine
  • Standard AWD
  • Standard stability system
  • Optional remote start
  • Seven-passenger seating for all models

2011 Subaru Tribeca Road Test

Joe Bruzek

Subaru is on a roll, with recent redesigns of the Forester, Outback and Legacy earning recognition from Cars.com editors and consumers alike for their value and how competitive they are within their segments. Another all-new Subaru — the 36-mpg 2012 Impreza — will debut this summer, leaving one Subaru that seems to have been forgotten: the seven-seat Tribeca crossover SUV.

The 2011 Subaru Tribeca shines when it comes to ride quality and safety ratings, but its smaller size and outdated interior hold it back compared with three-row crossover rivals.

In fact, the Tribeca doesn't seem to be quite the value other Subarus are. (See three-row crossovers compared.) Tribecas come in base Premium, midlevel Limited and loaded Touring trim levels. I drove a Touring. All come standard with a six-cylinder engine, automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

Inside
The interior's design has aged well over the years, with a smooth, curvy flow that wraps around front passengers. That's quite the feat considering it's essentially the same design used when this car was introduced as the B9 Tribeca for 2006.

However, the quality of the materials in there is far from the segment's best. There's an overuse of silver plastic that's meant to imitate aluminum — a cheap-looking trick. The dashboard and center console are carved out of the stuff, and they don't do the unique design any justice.

The most disappointing part of the interior, though, ...

Subaru is on a roll, with recent redesigns of the Forester, Outback and Legacy earning recognition from Cars.com editors and consumers alike for their value and how competitive they are within their segments. Another all-new Subaru — the 36-mpg 2012 Impreza — will debut this summer, leaving one Subaru that seems to have been forgotten: the seven-seat Tribeca crossover SUV.

The 2011 Subaru Tribeca shines when it comes to ride quality and safety ratings, but its smaller size and outdated interior hold it back compared with three-row crossover rivals.

In fact, the Tribeca doesn't seem to be quite the value other Subarus are. (See three-row crossovers compared.) Tribecas come in base Premium, midlevel Limited and loaded Touring trim levels. I drove a Touring. All come standard with a six-cylinder engine, automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

Inside
The interior's design has aged well over the years, with a smooth, curvy flow that wraps around front passengers. That's quite the feat considering it's essentially the same design used when this car was introduced as the B9 Tribeca for 2006.

However, the quality of the materials in there is far from the segment's best. There's an overuse of silver plastic that's meant to imitate aluminum — a cheap-looking trick. The dashboard and center console are carved out of the stuff, and they don't do the unique design any justice.

The most disappointing part of the interior, though, is the lack of a telescoping steering wheel, which is found in just about every other three-row SUV on the market. What may seem like a small oversight made it impossible for me to sit comfortably in the driver's seat. At 6-feet tall and with a slender build, I had to move the seat back pretty far to get a comfortable distance from the steering wheel. In that driving position, my elbows couldn't reach the armrest. Combine this with the Tribeca's high seating position, and I was not a happy commuter during my 90-minute drives to and from Cars.com's offices.

Fit, of course, will vary from person to person. Some people may not have any issues, but I was not the only editor to experience frustration over the steering wheel. And the front seating problem snowballed into issues for the second and third rows, too, partly because of the Tribeca's small size. Legroom is already mediocre in the second row, at 34.3 inches, but with the driver's seat where I had it positioned, the second row lost heaps of that space. Then, with the second row slid all the way back to compensate, the third row was left with literally no legroom.

Very few crossovers have enough room in their third row to make adults feel comfortable, and the Tribeca isn't close to breaking that mold. The seat is so close to the floor that my legs and thighs were positioned uncomfortably off the seat cushion.

Cargo
We test a standard assortment of grocery bags, golf clubs and luggage in every car we drive, and there wasn't much — or any, really — room to spare behind the Tribeca's third row; there's only 8.3 cubic feet of storage back there. That's significantly less than the Pilot's 18 cubic feet, and it's even less than a small sedan's trunk.

With both rows folded flat, the Tribeca has 74.4 cubic feet of total cargo space. Again, it's an unexceptional amount considering the Pilot has 87 cubic feet, the Highlander has 95.4 and the CX-9 boasts 100.7. What's more, I can't imagine trying to fit seven people in this car, especially seven people I like. What's truly revealing is that Subaru's Outback wagon doesn't require a huge concession in overall cargo space (it offers 71.3 cubic feet) even though it seats just five.

Features
One of the Tribeca's redeeming qualities is Subaru's trademark symmetrical all-wheel drive. It's one of the best systems available for tackling the slippery snow- and rain-covered city roads on which I drove the Tribeca. Even in aggressive starts in these conditions, the car accelerated seamlessly from stoplights. The Tribeca's all-wheel drive distributes power to all four wheels all the time, helping with a smooth delivery of traction.

Now here comes Debbie Downer: Unlike the Forester and Outback, the Tribeca's all-wheel drive doesn't come at much of a discount compared with the competition. The Pilot, Highlander and CX-9 come really close to or beat the Tribeca's starting price when equipped with all-wheel drive.

Our fully loaded Touring came in at an as-tested price of $37,995. The only option missing was a rear DVD entertainment system. The Touring trim level comes with xenon headlights, a power moonroof, a backup camera and Bluetooth for its $35,795 starting price. Our tester had the optional touch-screen navigation system for another $2,200.

The navigation system suffered from a fundamental flaw: The touch-screen is beyond arm's reach — or at least it was beyond mine. To enter an address or check the gas mileage, I had to lean very far forward to reach the screen at the top of the dashboard. The navigation itself felt outdated, with graphics that are easily bested by many of today's smartphones and portable GPS devices.

Acceleration, Ride & Handling
One engine is available in the Tribeca, and it's a solid one. The 3.6-liter, horizontally opposed six-cylinder makes 256 horsepower and offers punchy acceleration around town. Even the lightest tap of the throttle results in quick acceleration. The engine does, however, seem to lose some of its gusto at highway speeds when trying to pass.

With only one engine, transmission (a five-speed automatic) and driveline configuration, the Tribeca's gas mileage is a somewhat unimpressive 16/21 mpg city/highway — take it or leave it. Other crossovers have the option of more efficient front-wheel-drive models, and the Highlander has a base four-cylinder engine for the gas-conscious.

One of the Tribeca's strongest driving attributes is its ride quality; the suspension absorbs road imperfections with ease, making for a very comfortable commute.

Safety
Like the rest of Subaru's current lineup, the 2011 Tribeca is a Top Safety Pick at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It scores the agency's best rating, Good, in front-, rear- and side-impact crash tests, as well as in a roof-strength test.

As of publication, the 2011 Tribeca has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using its revised testing procedures.

Tribeca in the Market
In April, new-car sales of the Tribeca totaled a lackluster 241 units. Sales numbers aren't always an indication of a good or bad product, but in this case, it seems seven-seat crossover shoppers are buying elsewhere.

The Honda Pilot sells around 8,000 a month, and even the more niche, sporty Mazda CX-9 crossover sells around 2,800 units. To be competitive, Subaru needs to give the Tribeca some serious attention. Given its smaller size, its entry-level price doesn't give it much of an advantage over the competition, and there are also some very good products competing from within Subaru — including the Outback, which sold 9,400 units in April.

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Latest 2011 Tribeca Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(5.0)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(5.0)
Value For The Money
(4.2)

What Drivers Are Saying

(3.0)

Eats Gas

by Subaru Buyer from Indialantic, Florida on March 7, 2012

I have a 2007 and I had to comment. It is a total gas eater and only takes premium. I like it and it is a pretty car, but, the leather seats were replaced 3 times in the front as the leather wears off... Read full review

(5.0)

2nd Subaru

by Subaru Addict from Savannah, Ga on June 25, 2011

Purchased our Tribeca one week ago with only 5 miles on it. We already own a 2010 Legacy and have been very pleased with the performance, reliability and fuel efficiency of the Legacy. Had a trip ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2011 Subaru Tribeca currently has 5 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 Subaru Tribeca 3.6R Premium

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Subaru

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance and Carfax vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    Powertrain: 7 years/100,000 miles from original date of first use. Roadside assistance: 1 year from date of purchase
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 85,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 152 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Tribeca received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker