By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.4
While it's true there are dozens of 7-passenger vehicles on the market, you won't find many that offer as advanced an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system as the 2013 Subaru Tribeca. Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is a proven system loved by those whose daily drive is often accompanied by snow, rain or even dry curving roads. Subaru's novel boxer-engine design is the primary reason for the Tribeca's adept handling. The boxer engine sits lower than a standard-size V6 or inline engine, helping to reduce the vehicle's center of gravity and improving its overall stability. Inside, the Tribeca provides room for seven, but its aging platform doesn't offer the same advanced electronic audio, infotainment or telematics as many newer competitors.
If you've been a longtime member of the Subaru family, but your own brood has outgrown your 5-passenger sedan or wagon, the 2013 Tribeca SUV is the answer. Decent fuel economy and good resale should help lessen the sting of the Tribeca's $35,000 price tag.
Those looking for the latest in audio and infotainment systems will find the Tribeca woefully inadequate. It should also be noted that despite is strong safety ratings, the Tribeca's side-curtain airbags do not extend to protect the third-row passengers.
For 2013, the Subaru Tribeca is offered only in Limited trim, and a new brake override system is added this year. The system cuts engine power when both the brake and accelerator are depressed at the same time.
Driving Impressions A few minutes behind the wheel and it becomes evident that Subaru's 2013 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 mild body lean, but overall it's evident that the low center of gravity of its unique drivetrain enhances stability and confidence. The AWD system splits power in a 45/55 proportion that favors the rear wheels. If a tire loses grip, power is immediately transferred to the wheels with a better handle on the situation. The 3.6-liter "boxer" engine delivers good performance, while improved shift points programmed into the automatic transmission result in less gear-changing when climbing hills or moving through varying traffic.
Beyond the expected 60/40-split tumbling feature, the second-row seatbacks fold down individually in a 40/20/40 configuration, allowing the narrow middle section to make way for skis or divide a pair of arguing kids. In addition, the seats slide fore-aft nearly eight inches, and the seatbacks recline, making this one of the most versatile seats in its class.
DUAL-ZONE CLIMATE CONTROL AND REAR-CABIN A/C
While abundant safety features are a given in a Subaru, the Tribeca's generous luxury exceeds any Subaru to date. Dual-zone climate control for the front cabin features air filtration, while a separate system for the back rows helps make almost any seat in the house an agreeable one.
Excellent fit and finish, appealing materials and an uncommon dash design are the hallmarks of the 2013 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 fuel economy, temperature and information are housed in a large, recessed binnacle properly set at eye level. Convenient tilt-and-slide second-row seats combine flexible comfort with easy third-row access. We applaud the ample distribution of cup holders and wide front seats, which also feature adjustable lumbar support for both driver and passenger. Useful features include an auxiliary audio input jack, as well as optional GPS navigation, rearview camera and second-row DVD entertainment system.Exterior
The original 2006 Tribeca's face was unique, if not beautiful. A quick refresh in 2008 brought about the more palatable, if somewhat generic, front end it wears today. The 2013 Subaru Tribeca's grille features horizontal slats below the familiar Subaru star-cluster badge flanked by large headlights and front fenders that impart a strong road presence. Large side mirrors and windows, along with narrow roof pillars, help with outward vision. Around back, the Tribeca touts wraparound taillights and a sporty rear valance under its large liftgate. Standard 18-inch alloy wheels, a taut rear suspension and an impressive 8.4 inches of ground clearance lend it a confident stance that its handling backs up.
The Subaru Tribeca for 2013 is offered in only one trim: Limited. It includes a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic with SportShift manual function, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), 18-inch alloy wheels, front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags for the first and second rows, heated power side mirrors with integrated turn signals, heated power front seats (8-way driver/4-way passenger) with lumbar adjusters, 60/40-split/reclining/sliding second-row seats, 50/50-split third-row seats, leather seating, remote keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-cabin air conditioning, privacy glass, 10-speaker harman/kardon audio, Bluetooth and satellite radio.
Upgrades available on the 3.6R Limited include a moonroof package with a rearview camera (the latter is also available by itself), a touch-screen navigation system, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Subaru dealers also offer a large selection of accessories, from cargo carriers to a remote-start system.
The Subaru Tribeca for 2013 offers a single drivetrain combo, that being a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer engine producing 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque, and symmetrical all-wheel drive. With its low profile and naturally balanced design, in which the pistons lay flat in a horizontally opposed configuration, the boxer engine and AWD provide a confident feeling of stability even when taking corners, unusual for a 7-seater SUV. Power is more than sufficient for such a heavy vehicle, while fuel economy is surprisingly good.
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21 mpg
The 2013 Subaru Tribeca 3.6R Limited has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $34,000. With options, the Tribeca tops out just under $40,000. To make your best deal, be sure to look at the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area have paid for their vehicles. Now in what is likely its final year of production, the Tribeca continues to hold strong resale value, just below the Honda Pilot and GMC Acadia, but on par with the Ford Flex, Hyundai Veracruz and Toyota 4Runner.
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 2 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 19 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."
3 people out of 3 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!!!)."
8 people out of 8 found this review helpful