Test Drive: 2008 Subaru Tribeca – Autos.ca

25 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Test Drive: 2008 Subaru Tribeca – Autos.ca

August 31, 2007

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

Oshawa, Ontario #8211; Some years ago, a group called The Monks had an unlikely hit with a song called #8220;Nice Legs, Shame About The Face#8221;. And even though I drove the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca with different music playing on the stereo, that song still wormed its way into my brain each time I got behind the wheel. There was no getting around it: the Tribeca#8217;s #8220;aircraft-inspired#8221; nose certainly stood out from the pack, but it was fugly.

To its immense credit, Subaru listened to the criticisms, and so after only two model years, this SUV returns with considerable improvements. First off is the name: the B9 is dropped #8211; the B was for its horizontally-opposed #8220;boxer#8221; engine, the 9 for its platform designation #8211; and now it#8217;s simply the 2008 Subaru Tribeca, dubbed for the trendy New York neighbourhood.

The face is also new, with a grille that reminds me at first glance of the Chrysler Pacifica; its conservative nature is now more likely to blend into traffic than to make a statement, but that#8217;s certainly preferable to the nose it replaces. There are still large C-pillars, but a new quarter-window design and bigger mirrors make it easier to manoeuvre.

2008 Subaru Tribeca. Click image to enlarge

Under the hood, there#8217;s a new 3.6-litre six-cylinder that delivers more power and runs on regular gas, a new smoother-shifting five-speed automatic, a better rear suspension, Xenon headlamps, roof rails, and most surprising of all, the same base price as in 2007. As before, five- and seven-passenger versions are offered.

The new 3.6-litre boxer six now increases the Tribeca#8217;s power to 256 horses, up from 245, while torque increases to 247 lb-ft, up from 215; it#8217;s the same size as the engine it replaces, but is slightly lighter in weight, as is the transmission. Combined fuel economy also improves marginally which, when combined with the regular fuel requirement, should make the new Tribeca less expensive to run; in combined driving, I averaged 12.0 L/100 km.

Acceleration is improved, especially in my tester#8217;s lighter, five-passenger configuration, although I found the throttle very touchy; at times, it could be difficult to modulate. The transmission is also better, with faster, smoother shifts, and less hunting for gears on inclines than I remember in the 2006 model.

Built on an exclusive platform, the Tribeca uses a fully independent, heavy-duty suspension, and of course the company#8217;s standard #8220;symmetrical#8221; all-wheel drive #8211; meaning that the components are lined up symmetrically on each side of the car#8217;s longitudinal axis, for better balance #8211;

2008 Subaru Tribeca. Click image to enlarge

which splits the torque 45/55 under normal conditions, and can lock 50/50 should any of the wheels slip.

The Tribeca#8217;s sweeping metallic centre stack, with controls spilling down into the console, doesn#8217;t offer a lot in the way of small-item storage. When I first saw the design on the 2006 model, I wondered at its longevity, given its futuristic styling #8211; I find that things taken too far can often look dated very quickly #8211; but I have to admit that it#8217;s grown substantially on me, and I now find it far more attractive than I initially did.

The dual-zone automatic climate control, standard on all models, uses twin temperature dials that display the numbers inside of them. The cupholders are out of the way, and disappear out of sight when they#8217;re not in use. All controls are backlit, save for the lock button on the passenger doors; the audio controls on the wheel also light up at night.

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