2008 Subaru Tribeca Review | Buyer Guide

tribecaTribeca Gets A New Face And More

The Subaru Tribeca that was introduced in 2004, never lived up to expectations. One of the problems was its styling, or more specifically, its unusual nose. The Suburu designers tried hard to make the car look distinctive, but it just didn’t work. For 2008, they have given it a facelift, and incorporated a more traditional grille. The changes they made transformed the Tribeca into one of the more stylish midsize SUVs in the market. In fact, it looks a bit rakish, with its steeply slanted windshield, sculpted flanks and an upward sweeping waistline.

The cabin matches the exterior in stylishness. It features a twin-cockpit design up front that looks like it might have come out of a sports car. A smooth flowing dash wraps around gracefully into the doors. The radio and climate controls extend out toward the driver, and are easy to reach. The optional navigation screen is mounted high and is one of the few that I’ve run across lately that does not wash out in the sun.

The passenger space up front is not overly generous, but the seats are chair-like and comfortable. Backseat room is a bit skimpy too, but adequate for average-size adults. A third row is optional, and like those in many SUVs, is best left to the small fry. It requires some agility to access, even with second row seats that tip and slide forward. Storage space, behind the third row is fine for a couple of suitcases, or your weekly grocery shopping. If the third row seats are down, or if you have no third row, then there’s plenty of room for cargo—37.6-cu.-ft.

Under the hood, Subaru has installed a larger version of its flat-six cylinder engine to give the Tribeca more oomph. The new motor displaces 3.6 liters vs. 3.0 liters in last year’s model. Horsepower is up 11 to 256, but more importantly, torque is up 32 lb.-ft. to 237. The 2008 Tribeca has more pulling power at low revs, and it now runs on regular unleaded gas.

Teamed with the new motor is a revamped five speed automatic transmission with a manual shif mode. This latest gearbox is lighter and feels more responsive than the old one. Power gets to the wheels via Subaru’s excellent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.

Subaru offers the Tribeca in two levels of trim. Even the base version comes with a laundry list of standard equipment, which includes a 100-watt audio system, 18-inch wheels and automatic climate control. (Seven-passenger models get standard rear air conditioning and a moon roof as well.) The upscale Limited adds luxury items like leather, memory seats and an upgraded stereo.

Additionally, the Tribeca comes with a comprehensive airbag system, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, and Subaru’s anti-skid system. The Tribeca has earned a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)

I felt like I was in a very solid vehicle while driving the Tribeca. It held the highway well. The noise level from outside was low, and I detected no squeaks or rattles. The Tribeca also conveyed a decent feel of the road through the steering wheel, and its handling was predictable. In town, this SUV was easy to maneuver, thanks to a relatively short 37.4-ft turning circle. Negotiating parking spaces was not a problem.

The Tribeca has the quality look of an Acura or Lexus, but it’s priced more like a Honda or Toyota. The base model starts at just $30,640. The Limited, like the one I drove, begins at $33,240.

Snapshot Review

Stylish Inside and Out
Solid Road Feel
Tight Passenger Space


Base Price: $30,640
Engine: 3.6-ltr, DOHC, flat-6
Horsepower: 256
Transmission: 5-sp auto
Brakes: disc, ABS
Gas Mileage: N/A

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