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Published on Mon, Sep 27, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By John-Fredrik Wright I had my wife with me when picking up the 2010 Subaru Tribeca. For her, cars have four wheels (most often), are small, big, or too big, and are one of a handful of colors. The Tribeca I picked up does indeed have four wheels, and it is big, but not too big. But for her it was the beautiful color of the car that won her heart. My wife, I assume, will in the future be part of the target audience of this car. And the color of the car only plays a minor roll in that assumption. Instead, I think she would enjoy the ample room to haul kids and their belongings/friends around to different activities. And I’m not saying that this is a chick-car, it’s not, but it does fit very well with the soccer-mom group. The third row seat is, of course, small. Even if it is intended for children, who would be comfortable for even longer road-trips, it will suffice for a quicker trip around town even for teenagers and adults. In other words, this car will technically seat seven people for shorter trips, or five adults and two small children for longer trips.
So far, I have referred to the Tribeca just as a “car”. This is due to me not being able to make up my mind; is it a SUV or a minivan? So, instead of having to choose, I would propose we call it a “crossover”. Not in the normal sense of something between a sedan and a SUV, however. No, this is a crossover between a minivan and a SUV. The Tribeca drives similarly to a minivan on streets (maybe a little tighter), yet with the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive it should be able to navigate most, if not all, the terrain a normal family would ever consider driving through. It is noticeable, however, that the Tribeca distinguishes itself from the flock of minivans. The interior does not have the telltale pilot seats in the second row, and the vehicle rides higher than a normal minivan, and does not have the interior height one would expect find in a minivan. Instead, it leans more towards a SUV. Many call it a medium sized SUV, I’m still not convinced. The 3.6L horizontally-opposed V6 will propel the car at a decent rate. The Tribeca picks up and goes when you need it to, even though this might not be the decisive element for the target group of consumers. It cruises nicely and quietly, both at city-speeds and highway-speeds, which contributes to making this a great road-trip car.
The optional 385 watt Harman-Kardon nine-speaker system accentuates this point. Along with the comfortable seats, these assets make this car perfect for long cruises out to the wilderness. For the passengers in the back, there is the option of a nine-inch DVD entertainment system which folds down from the center roof console. Along with the reclining seats (2nd row) this makes for a pleasurable ride. So for the couple going on a trip with a lot of gear, be it climbing, skiing, etc., this car allows for a lot of that gear to be kept inside by folding down the third and second row of seats. With only the third row down the then four occupants still have a lot of room for their toys, albeit maybe not the bicycle or their skis. That will have to go on the roof. Sure, that will probably worsen the (not-so-perfect) gas mileage, but then again, what would a trip out in the woods be without all the toys? In summation, this schizophrenic car will do it all. It will work well for the soccer-mom during the week; making good use of the plentiful room in the back, be it for kids or toys. It will safely take the outdoorsy family members to their weekend destination along with their gear. During the week the driver will be grateful for the rear-vision camera (optional) while maneuvering around in tight parking spots. On weekend trips this camera will prove to be superfluous, as the only thing behind you will be dust. During the week, one might wish for an easier-to-close rear tailgate when loading grocery bags. On the weekends I suppose this problem will disappear under all the excitement of being outdoors.
I guess we’ll have to look past the minivan-ish aspects. The Tribeca will get you out in the wild on par with the best of SUVs. So I guess we can call it a SUV with special characteristics, and leave it at that. SUMMARY JUDGMENT "Schizophrenic? It’s bleeding quadrophenic." For more information about Subaru products, go to subaru.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Subaru Tribeca Touring / ATE Price: $35,795 (base) $38,690 (as tested, with GPS navigation with LCD touchscreen) EPA fuel economy rating: 16 MPG city / 21 MPG highway Engine: 3.6L Horizontally-Opposed DOHC Horsepower: 256 at 6000 rpm Torque: 247 pound-feet at 4400 rpm Transmission: 5-speed adaptive electronic direct-control automatic Drive Configuration: Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) Dimensions Length: 191.5 Width: 73,9 inches Height: 73.9 iniches Curb weight: 4256 pounds