The Subaru B9 Tribeca: A Crossover Success

Physician's Money Digest, January 2006, Volume 13, Issue 1

Subaru's new flagship car wasnamed after the "Triangle BelowCanal Street"area of theisland of Manhattan. The newB9 Tribeca is almost 190 inches longand is available with three rows ofseats. It is longer and more car-likethan a Volvo XC-90 and will costthousands less. You have a choice of afive-or seven-passenger model in twolevels of luxury. The base Tribeca has asuggested retail price of approximately$31,320 including freight, while aloaded Tribeca Limited will go foraround $39,000.

Bold New Design

The exterior has a whole new flavorthat captures Subaru's future look.You can already see Tribeca's familyresemblance with the redone Imprezaline. From the outside to the inside, theTribeca has a unique visual appeal.The interior seems to wrap around youin a way like no other SUV. The navigationsystem is a must, as the frontcenter instrument panel screen seemssilly and bare without it. The cockpit isintimate, focusing all gauges intently atthe driver. The center and adjacentbrushed metal front consoles are ideallyplaced for both front occupants toreach and control the environment.

Power seats up front are most comfortablein the limited edition, whereyou can order the breathable perforatedleather. The middle row of seats sitsthree, but really just two adults comfortably.If you buy the seven-passengermodel, you get two small folddownseats in a space by the rear window.They are really child seats or forflexible adults going short distances.The visibility from the driver's seat issuperb even for shorter drivers.

Safety and Security

The Tribeca earned the highest possiblerating from the National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration forfrontal and side impact crash tests, featuringdual head curtain airbags andfront side impact airbags. The new Tribecais a feast for the senses. It is surprisinglywell-designed and executed.The driver position's ergonomics arealso well-designed. The opposing head3-liter, 6-cylinder engine has 250horsepower and 219 foot-pounds ofsmooth and responsive torque thanksto a variable valve timing and lift system.The dual overhead camshafts areat the top of the driveline, and thecrankshaft output goes to a flexible 5-speed automatic transmission that dispersespower to all four wheels.

Each auto company that builds all-wheel-drive vehicles puts the power tothe road differently. For example,Volvo's XC model gives you power tothe front wheels first; Porsche, VW, andBMW give you about 65% of thepower to the rear wheels and about35% goes to the front. By putting somuch power to the rear wheels, itencourages an SUV to fishtail in slicksituations. Subaru does it differently.With their variable torque distribution(VTD), they put 55% of the torque tothe rear and the rest to the front, givingyou very secure, very predictable handlingfor the most dangerous slick roadconditions. When you combine theVTD with the stability control system,you have the ultimate in automotivetraction technology. The four-wheelindependent suspension and 18-inchwheels return a good compromise ofhandling, road feel, and comfort.

Jean Swenson and Ashly Knapp are independent research

reporters and the founders of AutoAdvisor.com.