- All-wheel drive is standard
- Capable handling
- Good crash-test scores
- Dashboard is a little “space age”
- Still just mid-pack in acceleration
- Front seat knee room is tight
The 2009 Subaru Tribeca has a different personality than other mid-size crossovers, and it’s worth consideration for those who haven’t found the right look and feel.
After getting a face-lift, a more powerful engine, and a retuned suspension for 2008, the Tribeca returns for 2009 with a new Special Edition package that will appeal to those consumers who like to feel like they are getting a deal.
Subaru’s 3.6-liter flat-six engine was all new for 2008 and continues as the sole engine for the mid-size 2009 Tribeca. It pumps out 256 horsepower through the standard all-wheel drive and a new lighter five-speed automatic transmission. The revisions allow the upgraded engine in the 2009 Subaru Tribeca to deliver better fuel economy, of 16 mpg city, 21 highway, and run on regular unleaded fuel rather than the previous generation’s super unleaded requirement. Performance is adequate, although still a bit slower than its competitors like the Honda Pilot or Ford Edge.
The 2009 Subaru Tribeca’s 8.4 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive might hint at off-road prowess, but real off-roading isn't the goal here—just all-weather performance. Push the Tribeca into a corner a little faster, and you’ll find its most redeeming quality: It handles with a verve unlike most other crossovers, with great body control and reasonably communicative steering.
The Tribeca has a firm but smooth and controlled ride, and an interior that’s a step quieter than what we’ve become accustomed to from Subaru. The interior of the 2009 Subaru Tribeca has a weird space-age theme that throws its cozy semicircular arms and arrays of soft, blinking graphics around the driver and passenger. The cockpit design limits front seat roominess, though. In five-passenger editions, the second-row seat slides fore and aft 8 inches, giving limolike legroom. Big grab handles make third-row access, on three-row Tribecas, a lot easier for kids, too.
The 2009 Subaru Tribeca earns its status as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, with top "good" results in all crash-test categories. Anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and side curtain airbags are all standard.