Move over WRX, there's a new kid on the Subaru block, and it's about to steal your thunder.
Having cleared the performance hurdle with the 227-horsepower WRX and the 300-hp WRX STi, the Japanese automaker is moving on to the midsize SUV market with the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca, a seven-passenger vehicle designed to go up against the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander.
About the size of a Lexus RX 330, the Tribeca, which goes on sale this summer, is the first Subaru to speak the brand's new design language. With its slight wheel flares, high rear beltline, snubbed front end and airplane-shaped grille, the Tribeca's look isn't for everyone, but it will be for every Subaru. Expect elements of the Tribeca's look to carry to other models.
The Tribeca is also the largest and most expensive Subaru ever, with prices starting at $30,695 for the five-passenger model and topping out at $37,695 for a seven-passenger Tribeca Limited.
An Outback Underneath Unfortunately encumbered with a double-barreled name — "B" stands for "boxer engine," and nine is an internal chassis designation — the B9 Tribeca is based on a stretched and widened version of the Subaru Outback platform. The new body structure is 22-percent more rigid, with a 55-percent increase in bending stiffness.
That taut structure combines with a revised front suspension and a new double-wishbone rear suspension, which replaces the Outback's multilink setup, to provide a compliant ride. The Tribeca easily soaks up bumps, even over a rutted stretch of dirt and gravel road.
Power and Weight Like all Subarus, the Tribeca is offered with only all-wheel drive. Power comes from the same 3.0-liter horizontally opposed "boxer" six-cylinder engine found in the Outback. It's rated at 250 hp and 219 pound-feet of torque.
The engine is mated to a highly modified version of the Outback's five-speed automatic transmission equipped with SportShift to allow manual shifting. Past experience in the Outback found its shifter continuously hunting for gears during mountainous driving. This was not the case in the Tribeca, its transmission held a low gear steadily during steep ascents, without early upshifts.
Even with the Tribeca's substantial weight of 4,200-plus pounds, it's never at a loss for power. There's plenty of midrange muscle and the Subie easily tackled a lengthy, steep hill climb during a light off-road exercise.
Steering, however, was a bit light for a vehicle of such girth, which accentuates the Tribeca's heft. On the road, this feels like a big, heavy truck.
EPA ratings have not been released, but during our 100-mile test-drive, the trip computer calculated our consumption at 20.7 miles per gallon.
Safety Comes Standard On the Subaru B9 Tribeca, everything relevant to safety is standard, including four-channel/four-sensor antilock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).
Also standard are traction and stability controls, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and dual-stage deployment airbags in the front with an occupancy detector for the passenger seat, plus side curtain airbags to protect rear passengers. By comparison, the Toyota Highlander's head curtain costs an extra $650, an option which is not available on the Honda Pilot.
Near Lexus Luxury Subaru has shown signs of luxury intent in the 2005 Legacy and Outback models, but really brings the upscale look and comfort home in the B9 Tribeca.
Available in both five- and seven-passenger models in base or Limited trim, the Tribeca sports an elegant dash with more features than ever before available in a Subaru. One example is a stunning touchscreen GPS navigation system that's optional ($2,000) on the seven-seat Limited. Standard on the base is a 100-watt single CD/MP3 stereo with six speakers, while the Limited model upgrades to a 160-watt unit featuring an in-dash six-disc CD changer, MP3 compatibility, eight upgraded speakers and a subwoofer.
Second-row passengers will have no trouble getting comfortable thanks to 34.3 inches of legroom and reclining seatbacks, but those in the third row aren't as lucky. With its limited legroom and obstacle course entry which forces passengers to climb over the corner of the second row, the third-row seat is for occasional use only.
All rear-seat riders are bound to enjoy the optional 9-inch DVD entertainment system with two sets of wireless headphones, remote control and auxiliary input for video games, an option that will add $1,800 to a seven-passenger Tribeca.
On seven-seaters, a 50/50-split third-row bench and 40/20/40-split second row are standard, but cargo capacity is limited to 8.3 cubic feet with all seats up and expands to 37.6 cubic feet with the third row folded flat and 74.4 cubes with the second-row seatbacks folded forward. The Highlander and the Pilot offer a fair bit more.
All the Right Stuff Some might simply consider the Tribeca late to an already crowded game. Subaru, however, calls the B9 "progressive."
After a couple of hundred miles behind the wheel, we still wouldn't call the Subaru B9 Tribeca progressive, but agree it offers an impressive overall package. Subaru's competent boxer engine and all-wheel-drive system combined with a lengthy list of standard safety equipment and a luxurious, feature-laden interior make this new flagship a vehicle worth considering, even among the top competitors.
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2006 B9 Tribeca featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2006 B9 Tribeca 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2006 B9 Tribeca.
Review True and unbiased. Picked up our B9 Tribeca in 2009 with 30k miles as a family car for a young, active family. Drawn in by its AWD, NAV, DVD and 7-Passenger seating. Drove until 2015 with 100k miles. Car was mostly reliable until recently when the problems forced us to unload. It originally felt solid, well built, safe, with a quiet interior. Over time, its weaknesses became apparent, and shakes and rattles piled up. I agree with others' headlight complaint. So poor it was dangerous to drive at night. Service is expensive. The car is so rare that dealer service and oil changes are a must. Suspension and drivetrain components started needing replacement by 100k. 100% would not buy again.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Available Subaru B9 Tribeca 2006 Submodel Types: SUV
Available Trims: Limited 5-Passenger, Limited 7-Passenger, 7-Passenger, 5-Passenger
Exterior Colors: Titanium Silver Metallic, Harvest Gold Metallic, Champagne Gold Opal, Obsidian Black Pearl, Seacrest Green Metallic, Mahogany Red Pearl, Newport Blue Pearl, Satin White Pearl