Subaru Tribeca 3.6R Luxury 2008 Review

March 31st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Tribeca 36R 2008 fq

In the field of inductive reasoning let me explain what’s affectionately known as the ‘duck test’. It’s very simple and you’ve most probably heard it: If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.

The test doesn’t usually mention whether it tastes like a duck. Mmmm. Duck. But before I start salivating on the keyboard, the test illustrates that a reasonable, logical person can figure out the true nature of something unknown by observing the subject’s readily identifiable traits.

Get to the point, though, Darren: what the hell does a duck have to do with Subaru’s revised Tribeca?

The generation-one Tribeca drove like an SUV, splashed around in puddles like an SUV, but didn’t look like an SUV. Therein was the problem. The optically challenging front end (and to some extent the back) weren’t really typically ‘SUV’. So, it didn’t sell very well, despite being quite good.

That’s all changed now. The Tribeca has a new bill, a louder quack and modified tail feathers. Starting with the new bill, sitting out front is a one-piece grille (the old one had three separate grille elements), revised bumpers and bonnet and xenon headlights. Its quack comes courtesy of 631cc extra engine volume. And the tail has a revised bumper, spoiler and tailgate design. New 18-inch wheels and roof racks complete the exterior revamp. It now looks like a proper SUV, so how does it drive? With the 3.6-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine you get 190kW (10 more than before), and 350Nm of torque (53 more than before). It’s quicker, but uses less fuel (11.6l/100km is the quoted, which is about 6% less than previously.)

If you (as a mallard and duck) need to transport five ducklings around, the Tribeca’s seven seats will be welcome as will the DVD player in the second row so that you can show a movie while driving (preferably not the 1933 Marx classic Duck Soup.)

This movie will also show through the screen in the dashboard if the vehicle is parked with the handbrake on, and the audio bathes you in nine-speaker wonderment, or passengers can listen via one of the two infrared headphones supplied.

This new screen serves two other purposes. It’s the full colour reversing camera display, and it displays information about the car. The screen is a touch-screen, so navigation is achieved by pushing the graphics on the screen. As well as fuel economy, radio functions and car setup, there’s a conversion calculator because every duck needs to know how many litres are in a gallon.

Without driving the old and new back-to-back it’s hard to make a direct comparison. The new Tribeca is certainly sprightly for its size, reaching 100kph in 8.9s, but it’s more of a commanding cruiser than a switchback master. Though, it has to be said that its handling did save me and a colleague from a head-on collision when we met a car on our side of the road around a long sweeping corner at 100kph. Putting two of the Tribeca’s wheels onto the grass verge didn’t phase it one bit.

The Tribeca, like all new Subarus, has VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control) which consists of electronic stability control and traction control, and symmetrical all-wheel drive. Should the worst happen, the Tribeca scored five stars in ANCAP crash testing, and has six airbags, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.

Access into the back row has been improved — boarding passengers don’t have to ‘duck’ so much (pun intended) because of a new assist spring and the second row tilt and slide control.

Subaru says in its brochure that it is the ‘sensation of driving a sedan, now in an SUV.’ Well, almost. It’s certainly better than some SUVs, but don’t expect this to be a tall version of the Legacy. The Tribeca has tried better this time, and with a price that is five thousand less than the old Tribeca at its peak, the result is an improvement that should attract customers away from other brands.

Click through to the next page to read specifications of the 2008 Subaru Tribeca 3.6R Luxury

Price: from $67,990

What we like

  • Comfortable
  • Styling is more palatable
  • Reversing camera helps
  • Price is better

What we don’t like

  • Boring colour choices

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Dimensions & Weight 5AT
Overall length (mm) 4865
Overall width (mm) 1880
Overall height (mm) 1720 (including roof rails)
Wheel base (mm) 2750
Tread front (mm) 1580
Tread rear (mm) 1580
Min. ground clearance (mm) 210
Cargo space — 3rd seat folded down (litres) 450
Cargo space — 2nd and 3rd seat folded down (litres) 1495
Unladen mass (kg) 1942
Type DOHC with Dual AVCS
Number of cylinders – horizontally opposed 6
Bore x Stroke (mm) 92 x 91
Displacement (l/cc) 3.6/3630
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 64
Fuel system Multi-point sequential injection
Min. Fuel octane rating requirement (RON) 91-98
Max. Output DIN (kW/ RPM) 190/6000
Max. Torque DIN (Nm/ RPM) 350/4000
Fuel consumption (ADR81/01) Combined (l/100km) 11.6
CO2 emissions (ADR81/01) (gm/km) 275
Transmission type Auto
Gear ratio (1st) 3.540
2nd 2.264
3rd 1.471
4th 1.000
5th 0.834
Rev. 2.370
Final reduction ratio 3.583
Steering Engine speed sensitive power assisted rack & pinion
Suspension – front Coil suspension, McPherson strut type
Suspension – rear Double wishbone
Brakes – front Ventilated discs
Brakes – rear Ventilated discs
Min. turning circle (curb to curb) (m) 11.4
Tyres (steel belted radial, tubeless) 255/55R18 104H
With brakes (kg) 2000
Without brakes (kg) 750
Max. roof load (kg) 80
Max. tow ball down load (kg) 160
5-star ANCAP safety rating Y
ABS brakes / EBD / 4-wheel disc brakes / Brake Assist Y
Active headrests (driver and front passenger) Y
6 Airbags – Dual front, dual front side, curtain front & rear Y
All Wheel Drive full time – Variable Torque Distribution Y
Child seat anchor points Y
Front seatbelts – pretensioner & load limiter Y
Rear door child lock Y
Rear view reverse camera Y
Ring-shaped reinforcement frames & roll-over sensor Y
Seatbelt warning lights (driver & front passenger) Y
Shock absorbing brake pedal Y
UV protected window & glass² Y
Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) – electronic stability control Y
2 remote central locking keys Y
3 point A/ELR rear seatbelts Y
Adjustable height steering column Y
Air-conditioning – dual-zone climate control & rear seat control Y
AM/FM radio / 6-stack in-dash CD / 9 speakers / MP3 and WMA compatible Y
Audio steering wheel controls Y
Auxiliary audio jack and 12v/120W power jacks Y
Cabin/cargo/map lights Y
Console box & tray / 10 cupholders in cabin Y
Cruise control Y
Electroluminescent multi-function display Y
Manual Schukra lumbar support (driver & front passenger) Y
Leather upholstery³ & steering wheel Y
Power steering, mirrors & windows Y
Rear centre arm rest Y
Rear DVD entertainment system  with 94 display screen & remote control Y
Rear underfloor storage compartments (concealed) Y
Seat heaters & seat back pockets (driver & passenger seats) Y
Seats – 2nd row 40/20/40 split, fold flat, mid-way lock, slide & recline functions with access to 3rd row Y
Seats – 3rd row with 50/50 split, fold flat functions Y
SPORTSHIFT¹ 5-speed automatic transmission Y
Illuminated vanity mirrors (driver & front passenger) Y
Wireless headsets (2) for rear seat entertainment system Y
8-way power driver’s and front passenger seat with dual memory function Y
18-inch alloy (4×10-spoke) & space saver Y
Dual exhaust system Y
Front fog lamps Y
Front wipers with de-icer & speed sensitive intermittent mode & rear intermittent wiper Y
Headlights – Xenon auto levelling (HID) Y
Large heated door mirrors with indicators Y
Rear tinted windows Y
Rear roof spoiler Y
Roof rails Y
Electric sunroof Y
Other Features
Auto tailgate (unlock on key) Y
DataDot security system Y
ETC (Electronic Throttle Control) Y
Immobiliser security system with remote central locking Y
Foot activated parking brake Y
3 Year/unlimited km warranty Y

Subaru Tribeca 3.0R Luxury 2007 Review

August 8th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Tribeca 2007 fq

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

Interested in purchasing a Subaru Tribeca? This website has secondhand ones for sale.

What we like:

  • Power
  • Entertainment system
  • Versatility
  • Handling
  • 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

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