By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.3
For brand loyalists, perhaps the most important thing about the 2014 Subaru Tribeca is that it's a Subaru. As the automaker's largest and most expensive vehicle, the 7-passenger Tribeca SUV offers families who have outgrown their Outback or Forester a way to move up. The Tribeca is notable for its standard 6-cylinder boxer engine and sophisticated all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, which enable this 3-row SUV to be a tenacious handler in slick and snowy conditions. However, the aging Tribeca trails rivals such as the Nissan Pathfinder, Chevrolet Traverse and Hyundai Santa Fe in technology, fuel economy and feature availability while still commanding a nearly $35,000 starting price.
If you've been a longtime member of the Subaru family, but your own brood has outgrown your 5-passenger sedan or wagon, the 2014 Tribeca SUV is the answer. Good resale value is another feather in the Subaru's cap.
If you want the latest tech or safety features and fuel-economy figures better than 16/21 mpg, look beyond the Tribeca. Most of its 3-row SUV rivals are fresher and offer more advanced infotainment systems and better fuel efficiency.
The only change of note for the 2014 Subaru Tribeca is that the moonroof and small 3.5-inch rear-camera display that had previously been bundled into a package are now standard.
Driving Impressions Although the 2014 Subaru Tribeca is aging, it still feels invigorating for a larger SUV. This family hauler's handling is responsive and its steering feels satisfyingly firm. Throwing this big...Subie into a corner yields some body lean, but overall the Tribeca inspires confidence thanks to its low center of gravity and standard AWD system. Subaru's sophisticated AWD system has made many believers in the brand with its ability to get a grip in snowy conditions. The Tribeca's version is tailored to normally split power in a 45/55 proportion that favors the rear wheels. If a tire loses grip, such as on a slippery road, the Subaru automatically and immediately transfers power to the wheels with the best traction. The Tribeca's 3.6-liter engine delivers good performance thanks to its 256 horsepower, and shift points of the 5-speed automatic transmission have been improved vs. previous versions.
Beyond the expected 60/40-split tumbling feature, the Tribeca's 2nd-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. The seats also slide fore-aft nearly eight inches, and the seatbacks recline for further passenger comfort and cargo flexibility.
STANDARD LEATHER SEATING
While most mainstream cars now offer leather, it often costs extra or is reserved for higher level – and higher-priced – trims. Every 2014 Tribeca, however, features leather-trimmed upholstery standard for the first and second rows.
The Tribeca's cabin is most notable for its dash design, a wave pattern that visually delights but unfortunately places some radio and heating controls at odd angles from the driver. The controls themselves are easy to discern, but like the rest of the Tribeca they are feeling dated. Legroom is good in the middle row, but the 2-passenger third row is very tight for adults. Cargo capacity, too, is limited to just 8.3 cubic feet with the last row in place but increases considerably with the seats folded. The now-standard moonroof helps the cabin feel more airy.Exterior
The original 2006 Tribeca's face was unique, if not beautiful. A refresh in 2008 brought about the more palatable, if somewhat generic, front end it wears today. Instead of a narrow snout, the latest Tribeca's grille looks far more appealing with broad horizontal slats. The Subaru's rear is nicely rounded, with twin exhaust tips peeking out from below the bumper. The Tribeca boasts 8.4 inches of ground clearance, another boon for those who regularly contend with snow-covered roads. Unlike more and more of its competitors, the Tribeca does not offer a power tailgate, so you'll have to do the opening and closing the old-fashioned way.
Unlike most of its competitors, the 2014 Subaru Tribeca is offered in just one trim: Limited. That being the case, all Tribecas feature a good deal of features but not much variance in price. A standard model includes all-wheel drive, 385-watt/10-speaker harman/kardon premium audio system with AM/FM/CD changer, dual-zone climate control, power front seats (8-way driver/4-way passenger), Bluetooth phone connectivity, moonroof, HomeLink remote transponder and the aforementioned leather seating. The 2014 Tribeca rides on 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Roadside assistance is also included as part of the 3-year limited warranty.
The sole package offered on the Subaru Tribeca bundles a navigation system, DVD rear-seat entertainment system with a pair of wireless headphones, and larger rearview camera display. Individual add-ons include remote engine starter, puddle lights, kayak and bike carriers and a dog guard/compartment separator to bring along the canine family member.
The Subaru Tribeca offers a single drivetrain combo, a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer engine producing 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque, a 5-speed automatic transmission and symmetrical AWD. A boxer engine is called just that because of its horizontal positioning that makes the pistons move back and forth like a fighter's fists. With its low profile and naturally balanced design, the boxer engine and AWD provide a confident feeling of stability even when taking corners, unusual for a 7-seat SUV. Power is more than sufficient, but towing capacity tops out at 3,500 pounds, less than that of competitors such as the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Chevrolet Traverse. The engine's fuel economy has since been passed by those of fresher competitors, but at least it uses regular unleaded gasoline.
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21 mpg
The 2014 Subaru Tribeca has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $35,000. This is a $1,500 increase over last year, due to the moonroof package now being included in this year's model. At the high end, a Tribeca with navigation and optional accessories can reach around $40,000. The Tribeca's starting price is higher than that of the Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Santa Fe, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9, but the gap closes when optioning those other models with all-wheel drive and a 6-cylinder engine where applicable, both of which are standard on the Subaru. The Tribeca's resale value is predicted to remain strong, but still trail competitors such as the newer Hyundai Santa Fe.
By Driverz (OH) 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."
By dkerch99 (WI) on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Wanted upgrade. - My approximate mileage is 47,500
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."
3 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Shadetree (IA) 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 (MI) 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!!!)."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By KD (GA) on Monday, August 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles very well on the road. Very reliable"
Cons: "wished it got better mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Very reliable. I like it's size for an suv, not too big and not too small. Feel safe when driving. Handles the road very well."
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful