Full 2013 Subaru Tribeca Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Subaru Tribeca returns with a slimmed-down lineup consisting of just the Limited trim level and a handful of option packages.
Let's get this out of the way. There's nothing really wrong with the midsize 2013 Subaru Tribeca. The problem is that there isn't anything it does particularly well enough to make it stand out among the multitude of excellent crossover-SUV alternatives.
True, Subaru's largest crossover is attractive enough and benefits from the automaker's trademark horizontally opposed engine and capable all-wheel-drive system. The fact that for 2013 it's offered only in the well-equipped Limited trim level with seven-passenger seating could be considered another plus, as it simplifies the buying process.
Unfortunately, these positives are outweighed by the Tribeca's cramped third-row seat and limited cargo capacity, as well as its subpar fuel economy and aging overall design. Its relatively high sticker price doesn't help much either.
The list of the Tribeca's more desirable competitors is long, but some of our favorites include the 2013 Dodge Durango, 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. Any of these models should prove to be a more rewarding and worthwhile choice for a seven-passenger crossover SUV.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Subaru Tribeca is a seven-passenger midsize crossover SUV that's now offered in a single Limited trim level.
Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, dual-zone automatic climate control with separate rear air-conditioning control, leather upholstery (vinyl for the third row), heated power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), driver seat memory functions, reclining 40/20/40-split second-row seats, 50/50-split third-row seats, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a Harman Kardon audio system with a six-CD changer, auxiliary audio input jack, satellite radio and 10 speakers.
The options list is short and includes a Moonroof package that adds a sunroof, along with an auto-dimming rearview mirror with built-in compass and rearview camera display. Both the Navigation package and the Navigation and Rear-Seat DVD Entertainment package also include rearview-camera functionality, but the image is shown on the nav screen's larger display.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Subaru Tribeca is powered by a 3.6-liter, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that produces 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. Every Tribeca features standard all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds performance testing, the Tribeca accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is about average for this class. Fuel economy is below average, however, at an EPA-estimated 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Subaru Tribeca include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
In recent Edmunds brake testing, a Subaru Tribeca required 121 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, which is slightly shorter than its competitors. In crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Tribeca earned the top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Subaru Tribeca's interior has its strong points, including appealing styling, excellent visibility and a relative lack of wind and road noise. Front seats offer good comfort, but the lack of a telescoping steering wheel may make it hard for some folks to find an ideal driving position. The design and layout of the buttons and controls located on the center stack is also not particularly user-friendly.
The 40/20/40-split second-row seats get points for their ability to slide up and back up to 8 inches, but legroom ends up being just adequate and the center position is really only usable in a pinch. The same goes for the 50/50-split third-row seat, which is only suitable for occasional use by small children. Behind that third row you'll find a mere 8.3 cubic feet of cargo room. That number grows to 74.4 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded down.
In everyday driving the 2013 Subaru Tribeca is pleasant enough, with decent if unexciting handling and a light steering feel that aids maneuverability at low speeds. The suspension tuning is clearly tilted toward the comfort end of the spectrum and manages to provide a nice ride quality.
The 3.6-liter engine delivers acceptable acceleration, though it never feels particularly gutsy and sounds noisy when pushed hard. Fuel economy is subpar.