2009 Subaru Tribeca SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Subaru Tribeca SUV

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Subaru Tribeca Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.6 L Flat 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 256 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/21 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2009 Subaru Tribeca

  • Although it provides pleasant, all-weather capable transportation, the 2009 Subaru Tribeca is generally outclassed in terms of space, comfort and, at times, price.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Serene ride quality, smaller size means added maneuverability, handsome interior design, top safety scores.

  • Cons

    Cramped second- and third-row seats, limited cargo capacity, uncomfortable seating position for taller drivers, modest handling limits, more spacious rivals available for less money.

  • What's New for 2009

    After last year's revamp, the Subaru Tribeca heads into 2009 with just one significant change, the addition of a value-themed Special Edition model. Filling the gap between the base and Limited trims, the SE provides luxuries such as leather seating, heated seats and rear air-conditioning.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (4 total reviews)

Not happy!

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Tribeca Limited 5-Pass 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

I have owned four Subaru Outbacks prior to this 2009 Subaru Tribeca and thanks to this nightmare I will never buy another one! We purchased the car brand new. I wanted another Subaru for sure but thought I would try another model. My station wagons NEVER broke down and drove problem free for years. This car had been in the shop due to " check engine" light on within the first eight months. Only to be told it's a faulty sensor and is fine. Yesterday my car lost power at 55 miles per hour- NO STEERING, NO GAS, check engine light back on and all I could was coast off the road. The car had to be towed. Service found the computer needed to be " updated" and now my car should be fine? NIGHTMARE.

Outstanding vehicle

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Tribeca Limited 5-Pass 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

Traded in a 2007 Lincoln MKZ on my Tribeca. The Tribeca is superior to the Lincoln in every way. It is extremely roomy (professional reviews notwithstanding). Build quality is superb, no rattles, upscale looking, tons of room for passengers and cargo. I also have a 2008 Outback, and I can say that Subaru has it all together. If you are worried about buying American, note that my Lincoln was assembled in Mexico, both my Subarus assembled in Indiana. Which is the "American" car?????

Great bang for our buck

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Tribeca Limited 5-Pass 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

Shopped for a new car for 3 years. We knew we were going to get a Subaru, and settled on the Forester, but ended up with Tribeca because of the size of the back seat (can sit between two large carseats comfortably), and a great deal on this model. Initially was not interested in Tribeca because of the high octane fuel requirement, which apparently changed this MY. Took on its first long road trip, and so far has been extremely comfortable and fun to drive. It has everything we were looking for in a long-distance vehicle. The safety features are certainly a great selling point. There aren't many options/accessories that we feel are missing. Nice, solid vehicle!

Not a minivan

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Tribeca Limited 5-Pass 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

After test driving CUVs from Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Ford, the Subaru was a very pleasant surprise. The engine is very drivable around town and the ride experience is as luxurious as the premium brands. The Tribeca feels more like a car as opposed to the minivan roots of the Toyota Venza and the Ford Edge. Interior room for five is exceptional and rear storage area is huge. Build quality approaches the luxury brands. If you are in the market for a vehicle in this class, test drive them carefully. My experience did not match up with the reviews on this site. It was almost as if the experts were driving different cars!!!

Full 2009 Subaru Tribeca Review

What's New for 2009

After last year's revamp, the Subaru Tribeca heads into 2009 with just one significant change, the addition of a value-themed Special Edition model. Filling the gap between the base and Limited trims, the SE provides luxuries such as leather seating, heated seats and rear air-conditioning.


When it debuted three years ago, the Subaru B9 Tribeca seemed like your typical offbeat Subaru. Oftentimes, being different is good -- nothing wrong with a little individuality, right? But this midsize crossover's styling was heavily criticized, and its sluggish performance and relatively cramped cabin didn't help matters, either. The 2009 Subaru Tribeca (the "B9" part of the name was dropped for 2008), however, carries over last year's well-advised changes that included new front and rear styling, a more powerful engine and revised suspension tuning. But the Tribeca still has many inherent faults that make it a lackluster choice for a midsize crossover.

Subaru's Tribeca isn't without some charm. With class-competitive performance and a somewhat smaller size than most of its midsize rivals, the Tribeca is peppy enough and fairly easy to maneuver in crowded parking lots and on city streets. Of course, the standard all-wheel drive also provides confidence when driving in foul weather. And though its slow steering and soft suspension mean the Tribeca is no athlete, it compensates with a smooth and quiet ride.

The chief downside of the Tribeca is its tight seating, something that couldn't be remedied with the recent reskin and power boost. Although the second row is acceptable for kids, taller teenagers and adults will find leg- and hiproom lacking. And the third-row seat is essentially a token gesture to the marketing team, as it accommodates only the smallest of small fries. Even tall drivers will find the seating position uncomfortable due to the lack of a telescoping steering wheel.

For families that typically use all three rows, the 2009 Tribeca falls short and thus is hard for us to recommend. We'd instead steer you toward more spacious mid-to-full-size crossover SUVs such as the Buick Enclave/Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook triplets, Hyundai Veracruz, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander. These competitors offer more expansive interiors, and some of them cost less and handle better, too.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

A midsize crossover SUV, the 2009 Subaru Tribeca comes in base, Special Edition (SE) and Limited trim lines, each available in five- or seven-passenger versions. Base five-passenger models come with 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt steering wheel, power front seats, full power accessories, cruise control, a CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary input jack, a 7-inch display screen and keyless entry. The Tribeca SE adds leather seating, heated front seats, a driver seat with memory settings, a six-disc audio system and rear air-conditioning. Stepping up to the Limited adds a moonroof, roof rails and HomeLink. Seven-passenger versions add a 50/50-split third-row seat (cloth on base, vinyl on others) and rear climate controls.

Notable options include satellite radio, a remote start system, a navigation system with a rear parking camera, and on seven-passenger models only, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2009 Subaru Tribeca's 3.6-liter, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine produces 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. The sole transmission is a five-speed automatic with a manual shift mode. All Tribecas use an all-wheel-drive system that sends 55 percent of the power to the rear wheels in normal driving.

Performance is near the front of the midsize crossover pack, with a 0-60-mph time of just 7.8 seconds. Fuel mileage estimates come in at 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.


Every 2009 Subaru Tribeca comes with antilock brakes (with brake assist), traction control and stability control with a rollover sensor. Front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints round out the safety features.

In government crash tests, the Tribeca scored five (out of five) stars for both front and side impact protection. In addition, it received the top rating of "Good" in frontal offset and side impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Tribeca's interior has an upscale look that's high on style. We like the central display screen that shows climate control and audio information, a feature found on the Tribeca whether or not the navigation system is ordered. However, the arrangement of some controls is awkward, and the air-conditioner struggles to keep the cabin cool, even in seven-passenger models with the auxiliary rear blower.

Although the Tribeca's front seats offer great comfort, it's downhill from there. The second-row seats slide fore and aft nearly 8 inches, but even then they lack the legroom and hiproom needed by larger, taller adults, or even teenagers. The third row is just too cramped for anyone but very small children -- most competitors in this price range offer superior accommodations. Folding all the rear seats results in 74 cubic feet of cargo space, which is below average for the midsize crossover segment.

Driving Impressions

In contrast to the rugged, fun-to-drive character found in most Subarus, the Tribeca's personality is more subdued and maybe even a little disappointing. Handling limits are low due to the Tribeca's softly tuned suspension and ride-biased all-season tires, and the steering, although accurate, is slow and light on feedback. For these reasons, Tribeca drivers will likely prefer to take corners at a modest pace. The upside, however, is that Subaru's SUV delivers a very smooth and quiet ride. Additionally, the 2009 Subaru Tribeca provides respectably quick acceleration for a midsize crossover SUV.

Talk About The 2009 Tribeca

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 21
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs