2006 B9 Tribeca New Car Test Drive
Subaru is becoming a premium brand. It isn't Mercedes or BMW nor does it intend to be, but the technology underneath, the stuff you can't see, is cutting edge, giving drivers the latest in all-weather safety and performance. The latest example of this strategy is the all-new 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca.
The first thing you should know about the Tribeca is that it's a big SUV, as big or bigger than a Nissan Murano or Toyota Highlander or even a Ford Explorer. It seats up to seven passengers.
The first thing you're likely to notice, however, is the styling, particularly that grille. It looks like something from an Alfa Romeo. Subaru's new chief designer came from Alfa, but he told us the grille was already set in stone when he arrived. The design of the Tribeca doesn't please everyone, but seems to grow on some people with time.
TriBeCa is a trendy, upscale neighborhood between New York's Soho and Lower Manhattan districts. It isn't cheap real estate. Nor is the Subaru Tribeca cheap transportation. In case you haven't noticed, all Subaru models are somewhat pricey, but we think they offer a lot of value in terms of technology, handling, foul-weather capability and dependability. For its part, the Tribeca is competitive in the class, especially given the lengthy list of features with which it comes standard, much of which are optional or not even available elsewhere.
Extensive driving in Northern California revealed the Tribeca to be a joy to drive, comfortable and practical. In short, we'd list it as a buy. That's a strong recommendation, given that we think highly of the Highlander and Murano.
Two versions of the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca are available: a five-passenger ($30,695) and a seven-passenger ($32,395). Both share the same powertrain, a 250-horsepower, six-cylinder engine driving all four wheels full time through a five-speed SportShift automatic. Each is available in standard and Limited trim.
Neither trim package is lacking in function or comfort. All Tribecas, for instance, have Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control system, which joins forces with Variable Torque Distribution all-wheel drive and all-wheel traction control to help the driver maintain control. Standard wheels are 18-inch aluminum alloys with low-profile, all-season tires; a tire pressure monitoring system is standard, too. Brakes are vented discs with antilock and Electronic Brake-force Distribution systems.
Safety features include Subaru's unique auto-retracting brake pedal assembly designed to lessen exposure to crash-related injury for the driver's feet and lower legs. Front seat occupants are protected by dual-stage frontal airbags, seat-mounted side impact airbags and active head restraints, which automatically push forward and up in rear-impact collisions. Curtain airbags insulate the front and second row seats in side impacts. All seating positions get adjustable head restraints, and outboard seats have height-adjustable anchors for seatbelt shoulder straps. Child safety seat anchors (LATCH) are provided for the rear seat(s).
Inside, all Tribeca models give the driver an eight-way power adjustable seat and the front passenger a four-way power seat, both with manual lumbar. The second row of seats is almost as flexible as the two front seats, with a 40/20/40-split reclining seatback and a 60/40-split seat bottom adjustable fore and aft. Dual-zone automatic air conditioning is standard, as is a 100-watt, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers. Cruise control is standard. So are power windows, outside mirrors and door locks. The steering wheel, which also tilts, and shift knob are covered in leather. And there's an information center displaying audio settings, time, fuel economy and outside temperature.
The seven-passenger Tribeca gets that way via the addition of a third-row seat split 50/50. It also adds heated front seats and an auxiliary rear air conditioner fan control in the second seating row.
Moving up to the Limited in both the five-passenger ($32,295) and seven-passenger ($33,895) versions replaces the standard cloth upholstery with a choice of smooth or perforated leather seating surfaces. The stereo is upgraded to a 160-watt system with a six-disc, in-dash CD changer and nine speakers, including a sub-woofer in the rear cargo area.
Factory options are offered only on the seven-passenger model and include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1800) and a touch-screen, DVD-based, GPS navigation system ($2000). Subaru-approved options for both models and installed either at the port or by the dealer (installation costs are extra) number some 20 or so and include an assortment of features. Among them: an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror ($183), battery warmer ($30), engine block heater ($30), hood protector ($73), roof rack-mounted kayak carrier ($147), roof-rack mounted bike carrier ($140), and towing package with hitch and oil cooler ($514).