The Tribeca is offered in Limited trim and comes powered by a 256-horsepower 3.6L horizontally opposed "boxer" 6-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. With this combination, the Subaru Tribeca is able to net 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, and unlike many other advanced 6-cylinder engines, the boxer in the Tribeca uses regular fuel, rather than premium.
All-wheel drive is standard on the Tribeca; the Variable Torque Distribution system works with the electronic stability control and traction control to provide continuous traction to the wheels that can use it. During normal driving, the system sends 55 percent of torque to the rear wheels to aid handling no matter what the road conditions. Anti-lock brakes are also included. Towing is quite respectable on the Tribeca, with a 3,500-pound rating.
Thanks to the relatively low center of mass and a suspension tuned more for road performance than off-road capability, the Tribeca handles quite well while still offering an absorbent ride.
The Tribeca has three rows of seating to accommodate up to seven. First and second rows are quite comfortable, while the front seats afford a better view outward than most other crossovers. The second-row bench is split and slides forward or back to help optimize the balance of legroom with the third row; the third row is also split and folds flat to expand the cargo area when not in use.
The Limited Tribeca gets leather upholstery, a power memory driver's seat, ambient lighting, power moonroof, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a 385-watt harman/kardon audio system with satellite radio. A Navigation and Rear Seat Entertainment Package adds touchscreen navigation, along with a rear seat DVD system with 9-inch widescreen display, two wireless headsets, wireless remote and auxiliary inputs.
Safety features on the Tribeca include anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, dual-stage front airbags, side and side curtain airbags, and a 5-star rating in NHTSA crash tests.
In a nod toward conformity, Subaru gives its 2008 Subaru Tribeca a stylectomy, so now it looks like every other SUV (or crossover, if you want to call it that). While we like the unique design of the old Tribeca, too many others thought it was ugly, and they will appreciate the change. Along the way, Subaru gave the Tribeca a more powerful engine, while the interior uses the same clean and curvy design we saw in the 2008 Subaru WRX.
The Good The route guidance and ability to enter multiple waypoints in the 2008 Subaru Tribeca's navigation system are very useful features. Performance-wise, the car doesn't lack for power and proves very maneuverable. Critics of the previous model's looks will be happy at the styling change.
The Bad We weren't particularly impressed with the stereo's audio quality, and the system doesn't display ID3 tags from MP3 CDs. The navigation system doesn't make it easy to find points-of-interest, and canceling route guidance could be easier. Fuel economy isn't very good.
The Bottom Line The 2008 Subaru Tribeca is enjoyable to drive, and incorporates a few good tech features. However, it also has some real flaws, which could affect your long-term satisfaction with the car.
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