The Subaru B9 Tribeca was the first midsize SUV from a company that traditionally just made smaller station wagons with elevated ground clearance. Bigger and taller than other Subarus, the B9 was meant to be a viable alternative to established Japanese crossover competitors as well as other more upscale sport-utilities.
Named for New York City's fashionable and affluent TriBeCa neighborhood (the B9 was tacked on seemingly just for fun), it also became Subaru's first U.S. vehicle to feature a new design expression consisting of a stylized triangular grille and rounded bodywork apparently inspired by aircraft. It wasn't well-received, however, which was made all the worse because it was underpowered and not as spacious inside as other three-row SUVs.
In an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to turn the ship around, Subaru adopted more conservative styling for 2008 and ditched "B9" in the process. The rechristened Subaru Tribeca is covered in a separate review.
Most Recent Subaru B9 Tribeca
The Subaru B9 Tribeca was sold for 2006 and 2007, before it dropped the B9 from its name. Attached to its standard all-wheel-drive system and five-speed automatic was a 3.0-liter horizontally opposed (boxer) six-cylinder engine that produced 245 horsepower and 215 pound-feet. This modest output didn't do the relatively heavy B9 any favors, bringing it from zero to 60 mph in a pokey 9.6 seconds.
The B9 came in five- or seven-passenger configurations with either base or Limited trims. The base car included 18-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), a tilt-only steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player. An auxiliary audio jack was added for 2007. With its seven-passenger configuration, the base B9 Tribeca gained heated front seats and rear climate controls. The Limited got you leather upholstery and an upgraded sound system with a six-CD changer. Options on the Limited included a navigation system, a rearview camera and a rear seat entertainment system.
The Subaru B9 Tribeca's cabin had a distinct look with a waterfall center stack painted silver. It looked cool, but with its awkwardly arranged buttons, it was definitely a case of form over function. The cabin's abundance of hard plastic was also a turn-off, although we liked the central screen that displayed the climate control and audio information.
Many have found the B9 Tribeca's driving position awkward, which was largely a result of the non-telescoping steering wheel. Legroom was sparse for third-row passengers, and even those in the second row might feel a little cramped -- a rear-facing infant seat barely fits. Fortunately, cargo room with the seats folded was a bit more generous, with up to 74 cubic feet available.
In general, we found the Subaru B9 Tribeca to have too many flaws to be recommended as a used SUV purchase. Power was improved with the subsequent Subaru Tribeca, but it, too, remains an also-ran as more impressive crossovers have arrived on the scene.