Test Drive – Subaru Tribeca

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Buckle up this month with Andrew Richmond, as he puts Subaru’s Tribeca to the test …






It must be at least 7 years ago since the last time I found myself behind the wheel of a Subaru. I established a short but close relationship with the hero car of the day, a 2000 model WRX sedan, and I really enjoyed my ride. Now any car enthusiast worth their salt would recall that this was the last of the ‘good shape’ before the next model went all ‘bug eyed’ with a brand new design … with those love ‘em or hate ‘em round head lights!

While the WRX’s turbo was like music to my ears and it stuck to the road like stink on a monkey, sadly, baby seats didn’t fit well physically, or for me mentally, and I shed a tear as she was traded for a larger car.

But enough reminiscing of previous glory … the Tribeca 3.6R Premium is Subaru’s answer to what every family seems to want behind their garage door lately, an SUV! The Tribeca originally hit the market back in 2006, with again, what could be best described as a controversial ‘face’ leading to what may be the youngest ever facelift in motoring history … it was changed within twelve months!

On the inside, you’ll find enough room to seat five comfortably on black leather seats with contrasting white double stitching (as driven). For those play dates with your kids’ friends, another two seats fold out of the generous boot, or simply slide the rear seats forward and carry seven adults. The versatile second row is foldable with 40/20/40 split rear seats, which also fold flat, slide, mid way lock or even recline.

For the price (which I’ll comment on later!) there is a surprisingly large range of automatic inclusions, sure to keep even the toughest, value hungry critic happy. I counted at least six airbags, rear view reverse camera, dual zone climate control, radio with 6 stack CD/MP3/blue tooth with quality Harmon Kardon speakers, satellite navigation, multi function steering wheel, heated front seats, a sunroof, and to keep the tin lids happy, a rear seat DVD entertainment system with 9” screen that comes with dual wireless infrared headsets. If you have three kids, either the third will need to learn to lip read, or, you’ll need to negotiate yourself an additional headset to avoid a war erupting in the back seat.

For those who like to put a car through the old cup holder test, Subaru steps up to the challenge with none less than 10 cup holders located through the cabin. And fellas, if you’re into your 12v power outlets, I’m guessing Subaru are also class leading in this area, with 3 up the front and 2 in the rear.

On the outside, the Tribeca has an appealing road presence, sitting on 18” alloy wheels coupled with McPherson strut suspension on the front and double wishbone independent at the rear. The ride height in the driver’s seat felt higher than it actually was, and most importantly though, it behaved itself nicely through corners at speed and over rough road surfaces.

While other manufacturers deem these as extras you have to pay for, Subaru automatically include self levelling automatic Xenon low beam headlights, front fog lights, body coloured heated door mirrors with indicators, tinted glass on rear doors, rear quarter and rear windscreen and roof rails.

For the techs, they always love the Subaru, because these cars are a little unique. Subaru’s point of difference is in this zone, whereby this car comes with a symmetrical all wheel drive and horizontally opposed boxer engine. Combined with traction control, which is included within Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamic Control system, vehicle control is outstanding … especially on some of the wet bumpy corners we tested it on.

The engine is a 3.6 litre, six cylinder which is capable of producing 190kw @ 6,000rpm and is certainly no slouch from the get go. If you’re interested, its maximum speed is limited to 207 km/h, and if you want to be the first at those post Christmas sales this year, the Subie can accelerate from 0 – 100 km/h in a respectable 8.9 seconds.

Being a petrol engine family sized SUV, it’s understandable some will be looking straight for the fuel consumption stats to avoid any unpleasant surprises. The combined fuel consumption is 11.6 litres per 100 km, which in my opinion is what can be expected for a family car of this size in this price bracket.

In summary … this is a car that comes with all the fruit any family would want in an SUV, combined with all the safety features and finesse you would come to expect from a respected manufacturer such as Subaru.

But for me, the real surprise is the cost of the car. I would have expected to pay mid sixties for a high quality Japanese car with all of these standard features. But, for a limited time Subaru are rolling these out the door for $56,990 drive away … now that’s good buying in anyone’s language!

Keep it safe on our roads.

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