- A replacement for the Subaru Tribeca is coming, but car shoppers looking for a seven-passenger crossover in the near future may be forced to shop elsewhere.
- The next-generation Tribeca may be two or three years away from production.
- Subaru acknowledges that buyers want a bigger crossover with a larger third-seat.
CHICAGO — With the demise of the slow-selling Tribeca crossover, Subaru is anxiously waiting for a larger, seven-passenger replacement to draw more buyers to the brand. But the replacement could be two or three years away.
"It is a priority for us in the U.S. market to have a seven-passenger vehicle," Tom Doll, Subaru of America president, told Edmunds. "When you look at the demographics of the country, the children of Baby Boomers are now in their family-formation years, so it is important for us to have a true seven-passenger vehicle."
All of Subaru's models with the exception of the Tribeca seat five people. Doll would not provide a timetable for the next-generation Tribeca. However, industry sources say the replacement is a long way off, possibly two or three years away. Tribeca production ended last month.
The 2014 Subaru Tribeca is offered solely as a Limited model, with pricing starting at $35,745, including an $825 destination charge.
An issue with some buyers is the current Tribeca's size.
"The car was too small for the segment," said Michael McHale, a Subaru of America spokesman. "True three rows were in (fashion) and Tribeca was two-and-a-half rows at best. It was an occasional third row. It was not a true third row."
Edmunds described the Tribeca as the "worst seven-passenger SUV," noting that the "third-row seat can only accommodate children," while "adults can fit in many of its competitors' rearmost spaces."
Added Doll: "It did not have all of the utility that we are looking for in a seven-passenger (vehicle)."
Tribeca failed to live up to sales expectations since its launch in 2005. Last year, about 1,600 vehicles were sold.
As for the next-generation Tribeca, assuming that name is retained, Doll said Fuji Heavy Industries, which owns Subaru, will develop the vehicle without engineering and powertrain assistance from another automaker.
"We are doing it on our own," said Doll, who was interviewed at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. "With our unique engine technology and all-wheel drive, it behooves us to have our own DNA in the manufacture of a product like that."
Fuji Heavy Industries and Toyota share a product program, however. A rear-drive, two-passenger sports car was developed by Fuji Heavy Industries for Subaru and Toyota's Scion brand. Subaru calls its model the BRZ and the Scion version is called the FR-S, distinguished with different exterior styling. Toyota holds a 16 percent stake in Fuji Heavy industries.
The Tribeca was assembled at the Subaru of Indiana plant in Lafayette, Indiana. Now that Tribeca production has ended, the plant's excess capacity will be used to expand 2015 Subaru Legacy and Outback production, which also are assembled there. Both vehicles have been redesigned for the 2015 model year.
Edmunds says: In the meantime, if you're a car shopper in this segment, you may want to look at vehicles that the Tribeca struggled to compete against, including the Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse.