Tribeca is a thriving suburb of Manhattan — a syllabic abbreviation of “Triangle Below Canal Street”. While property developers such as Donald Trump revitalise the area, which is now one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the US, we’re going to find out whether Subaru’s Tribeca plays apprentice to the second and third generation SUVs of other car manufacturers.
With its optional 20-inch alloys and mesh grille, and finished in obsidian black pearl, the Tribeca looks prepared to whisk away an emerging mop-haired property mogul from a media frenzy. Fortunately, The Donald’s five offspring and current wife can also travel in style as it’s a seven-seater.
Downtown Manhattan’s bumper-to-bumper traffic would be the perfect place to test the Tribeca’s superb rear DVD entertainment system to keep the passengers quiet. Flip the nine-inch, roof-mounted screen down, insert a DVD (maybe ‘The Colour of Money’), start it with the remote control, and the audio plays either through the main nine-speaker (with subwoofer) audio system, or via two sets of wireless headphones. There’s also a six-stacker CD player and an auxiliary input for an MP3 player. Comfort in the back is right on the money: the rear seats can move forwards or backwards, and there is a separate rear cabin air conditioning system.
With ‘Luxury’ in the name, you would expect the front to be as plush. Both seats are power adjustable and heated. Gauges, switches and dials are all futuristic and easy to use. Leather adorns the seats, most of the plastics are soft, and dual climate control means no one will lose their cool.
Seatbelt pretensioners and active headrests in the front prepare occupants for an impending crash, while dual front, dual front side and curtain airbags adjust their speed of deployment depending on the severity of impact should the ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist not be enough. All these features have resulted in a 5-star ANCAP occupant safety rating: basically you could crash it into a casino and come out OK.
To get yourself into this sort of situation though, some speed is required. The Tribeca carries the same horizontally opposed, three-litre, six-cylinder engine from the Outback, marshalling a quite reasonable 180kW at 6600rpm, and 297Nm of torque at 4200rpm — enough to give a nine-second 0-100kph time. It’s transferred to the wheels by a five-speed auto. There’s a sports mode which makes it more responsive, or you can drive it in sequential manual mode. Subaru are experts at four-wheel drive. Their Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system supplies full-time power to all four wheels, giving the Subie an advantage in towing. In fact, the Tribeca will happily pull a braked trailer up to 2000kg.
If you’re being followed by a Tribeca it’s an intimidating presence, but when you’re in the vehicle it feels less like an SUV and more like a large car. There’s a lot of ground clearance (215mm), but the low centre of gravity from the boxer engine, coupled with suspension honed from years of rally experience means the Tribeca doesn’t roll as much as some other SUVs. Out on the open road it effortlessly eats up the corners.
The billion dollar question is whether you should consider the Tribeca for your tribe of progeny. It’s not a driver’s vehicle — it’s designed to get a small crowd from one place to another in relative comfort, not set the pace through the forest. However, a comb over the specs makes for impressive reading, therefore bad hairstyle or not, if I had five or six people to transport, and $73,000, I’d be tempted to say, “You’re hired!”
Price: from $72,990
What we like:
- Entertainment system
- 20-inch wheels (on our test vehicle)
- Datadot security
What we don’t like:
- Some of the optional extras should be standard (boot blind, reversing sensors)
- Harsh engine noise when pushed
- Standard 18-inch wheels look too small
Words and photos Darren Cottingham