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2008 Subaru Tribeca

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2008 Subaru Tribeca Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors


There are a number of five and seven-passenger SUVs on the market, so what's so special about the 2008 Subaru Tribeca? For starters, every Tribeca is equipped with an advanced and capable all-wheel-drive system, a comforting thought for those whose daily commutes sometimes include heavy snow and rain. The Tribeca boxer engine lowers the vehicle's center of gravity and improves vehicle stability, and the Tribeca rates well in the government's front- and side-impact crash tests. Finally, the roomy interior coddles its passengers and stimulates its driver with loads of features, while fresh new exterior styling produces a less polarizing appearance.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're a Subaru devotee whose family is too large for an Outback or Forester, the Tribeca is the logical choice. First-time Subaru buyers will find the Tribeca's good fuel economy, strong resale and proven reliability very inviting.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need room for seven adults, the Tribeca's child-sized third-row seat falls short. Those who don't need all-wheel drive can save money by shopping one of the Tribeca's less expensive front-wheel-drive competitors.

What's Significant About This Car?

The 2008 Subaru Tribeca receives a major front-end redesign, with a new grille and headlamp treatment, new front fenders and a new bumper. A larger 3.6-liter engine replaces the previous 3.0-liter unit, producing more horsepower without affecting fuel economy.

Driving It Driving Impressions

A few minutes behind the wheel and it's evident the Tribeca is not your run-of-the-mill SUV. The handling is responsive and the steering firm and linear. Driving into sharp curves yields some reasonable and expected body lean, but nothing that's surprising or uncomfortable. The all-wheel-drive system splits power in a 45/55 proportion that favors the rear wheels. In the event of tire slippage, power is immediately transferred to the wheels with better traction, helping the driver to maintain control. The new 3.6-liter engine delivers good performance, while the new shift points programmed into the automatic transmission lessen the number of gear changes required when climbing hills or moving through varying traffic.

Favorite Features

Rear Vision Camera

This optional feature allows the driver to see objects down low and directly behind the vehicle. It's available only on the Limited Trim.

Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)
This safety feature works in conjunction with the all-wheel drive to help the driver maintain control. VDC senses the direction the driver intends to go and uses selective braking and engine power reduction to help maintain control.

Vehicle Details Interior

Excellent fit and finish, appealing materials and an uncommon dash design are the hallmarks of the 2008 Subaru Tribeca interior. The wave-shaped dashboard visually delights, but its severe curve places some radio and heating controls at odd angles from the driver. Digital readouts for the fuel, temperature and information screen look attractive, but can fade when viewed through polarized sunglass lenses. New this year are tilt-and-slide second-row seat controls in the front that allow easy access to the third row. We applaud the ample distribution of cup holders and wide front seating, which also features adjustable lumbar support for both the driver and passenger. Useful features include in auxiliary audio input jack and optional GPS navigation and rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Exterior   photo

A more palatable, if somewhat generic front end, replaces last year's "love it or hate it" styling. The 2008 Subaru Tribeca's new grille features horizontal slats below the familiar Subaru star cluster badge. New headlamps and front fenders impart a stronger road presence, while larger side-view mirrors and redesigned rear windows and pillars improve visibility. Around back, the Tribeca receives larger, more visible taillights and a sporty rear valance just below the tailgate. A new rear suspension helps improve handling while yielding an impressive 8.4 inches of ground clearance.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2008 Subaru Tribeca features a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, five-speed automatic with SPORTSHIFT manual gear change function, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with traction control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), 18-inch alloy wheels, front side-impact and side-curtain airbags for the first and second row seats, tire pressure monitoring system, rear defroster, heated side mirrors, eight-way power driver's seat, four-way power passenger's seat, power windows, power door locks, 100-watt stereo with single-disc CD player with MP3 compatibility, cruise control, cloth seating, driver and passenger manual lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt steering wheel and rear window wiper. Seven-passenger models include rear air conditioning.

Notable Optional Equipment

Options include XM or Sirius Satellite Radio, Reverse Assist Sensors, auto-dimming mirror and remote start. Upgrading to the Limited trim adds leather seating, two-position driver memory, heated front seats, power glass moonroof, HomeLink remote control system and 160-watt six-disc CD player with nine speakers and a rear subwoofer. Options for the Limited trim include GPS navigation, rear-vision camera and rear-seat DVD entertainment system (seven-passenger model only).

Under the Hood

Subaru has increased the displacement of the Tribeca's boxer engine from 3.0 to 3.6 liters, which boosts horsepower and torque significantly. The added power is immediately felt on take-off and when passing.

3.6-liter Boxer 6
256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16 city/21 highway

Pricing Notes

The 2008 Subaru Tribeca has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a little over $30,000, while the Limited starts at $33,000 and a fully loaded Tribeca tops out around $40,000. To make your best deal, be sure to look at the Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area have paid for their vehicles. Now in its third year of production, the Tribeca continues to hold strong resale value, on par with the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota 4Runner, and better than the Ford Explorer and GMC Acadia.

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