By KBB.com Editors
There are a number of five and seven-passenger SUVs on the market, so what's so special about the 2009 Subaru Tribeca? For starters, every Tribeca is equipped with an advanced and capable all-wheel-drive system, a comforting thought for those whose daily commute sometimes includes deep snow and heavy rain. The Tribeca's unique boxer engine design 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 Tribeca's roomy interior coddles its passengers and stimulates its driver with loads of features, although the same enthusiasm is harder to generate when it comes to the Tribeca's exterior styling.
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.
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.
There are no major changes for the 2009 Subaru Tribeca.
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.
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.
Excellent fit and finish, appealing materials and an uncommon dash design are the hallmarks of the 2009 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. Convenient tilt-and-slide second-row seat controls 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
The original Tribeca's face was unique, if not beautiful. Last year's face lift brought about a more palatable, if somewhat generic, front end. The 2009 Subaru Tribeca's grille features horizontal slats below the familiar Subaru star cluster badge flanked by large headlamps and front fenders that impart a strong road presence. Large side-view mirrors and rear windows, along with narrow D-pillars help with visibility. Around back, the Tribeca touts large, easily visible taillights and a sporty rear valance. Last year's revised rear suspension carries over for 2009, helping improve handling while yielding an impressive 8.4 inches of ground clearance.
The 2009 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.
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).
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: 16/21
By J on Monday, January 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 133,334overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "great in all road conditions"
Cons: "poor gas milage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have enjoyed driving this car for 5 years with no mechanical issues. It drives like a champ through all kinds of weather and road conditions. The interior is luxurious. The only draw back is the gas milage-average 18 mpg. With high gas prices in NY this is the only draw back."
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Driverz on Sunday, December 01, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 121,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfy, great AWD"
Cons: "Mechanical quality/reliability questionable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought this in 2010 when it was two years old. Loved it till 2011 when, just after the 3 year warranty ran out,the nav unit died. Was told by the dealer it would be $1000 to replace. Found out this was common problem. A month ago the transmission died. Dealer said 5 grand for a rebuilt tranny. Found this transmission has had a lot of documented problems as well. Oil cooler gasket wears out on most of these which causes you to steadily leak motor oil till you replace it (after two years?? come on Subaru) This is one of the most comfortable cars we have owned. The AWD works great. The bells and whistles are great(when they work)Gas mileage is terrible. Overall I don't think this vehicle is worth the price they are asking for it, especially considering the serious reliability issues which can be found with a little research. As someone else said this is a high maintenance vehicle."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By dkerch99 on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Wanted upgrade.
Pros: "Just okay."
Cons: "Cramped back seats, small gas tank, touch screen."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Bought this vehicle new, had to take in twice for service because of engine jerking when going from 2nd to 3rd gear. Interior is decent looking, but very cramped back seats, never should offer with a 3rd row. Touch screen is ok, but hard to see the screen when it's sunny out. Feel like we had to fill the gas tank constantly, only a 15 gallon tank. Gas mileage is pretty weak. Drives pretty smoothly and decent acceleration."
By kitty on Thursday, October 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "too many to list"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"the design leave almost no storage space, the glove box only has room for the owners manual. the headlights need to be on high to see far enough ahead to be safe. the auto on the AC/heat has the AC on all the time. There are not enough outlets and are in places that are not convient. I was told when I bought it that the headlights come on automatically, but they don't. The headlights turn off with the engine so if you are in a dark place you don't have the couple of min of headlights most cars have. The list is way too long to give all the things I hate about this car. I pray everytime I get in it that someone will hit me and total the car. I wouldn't even care if I was hurt."
5 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Shadetree on Monday, September 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great ride very comfortable, handles great"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great car I really like it , gets good MPG 23 on highway at 70 mph, have alway changed oil & serviced as recommended, tire have 14,000 miles on them."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By killjoy on Wednesday, August 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "its great"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"All I ever see about this vehicle are bad reviews on Yahoo or some other internet rag saying the styling is outdated, it is unoriginal, etc. All I see are other vehicles that have taken the same styling cues from the Tribeca that is supposedly such a bad vehicle. Sure, it only gets between 18-21mpg, but what other SUVs get better? I feel that the AWD feature of all Subarus is superior to anything that other manufacturers have and it has been very dependable. The engine is based on an industrial model so it will last a very long time. The only issue I had is with the power steering unit leaking and they repaired it under warranty. I have driven this in all types of weather and across all terrains from sand to mountains. This is the second Subaru that I have owned, and I would be willing to buy another when this one finally wears out (not for a long time!!) In my opinion, all you have to do is keep up with regular maintenance and change the transmission fluid regularly (do not take it to get flushed!!!)."
9 people out of 9 found this review helpful