2013 Subaru Tribeca

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2013 Subaru Tribeca Review


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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2013

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 the Tribeca
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.

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.

2013 Subaru Tribeca Details

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.


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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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.

3.6-liter boxer-6
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21 mpg

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?