2010 Subaru Tribeca Review

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Subaru Tribeca model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Stylish interior design, standard all-wheel drive, perfect crash-test scores.
  • Cramped third-row seat, limited cargo capacity, steering wheel doesn't telescope, indifferent driving dynamics, unimpressive fuel economy.

Although it provides all-weather capability and a distinctive dashboard design, the 2010 Subaru Tribeca is generally outclassed by other midsize crossovers.

Vehicle overview

The 2010 Subaru Tribeca takes its name from the artsy New York City neighborhood, and indeed, this Subaru has a little avant-garde in its genes. Boasting standard all-wheel drive and a futuristic dashboard design, the Tribeca would seem to be aimed at those who appreciate a daring departure from the norm. Beyond these elements, however, the Tribeca turns out to be a surprisingly forgettable midsize crossover SUV. It's not bad, but it's also not as good as many rivals.

Taken on its own merits, the Tribeca is a perfectly competent vehicle. Seven-passenger seating is standard for 2010, and the now-familiar 3.6-liter flat-6 joins forces with the standard AWD system to deliver solid year-round performance. The Tribeca is also a bit smaller than the average midsize crossover, making it a boon for those who navigate crowded streets and parking lots on a regular basis. Moreover, the Tribeca's ride is smooth and quiet -- unusually so for a Subaru.

Alas, shortcomings abound. The third-row seat is little more than a token gesture for marketing purposes, as there's no way an adult or even a growing child could fit back there comfortably. The driving position is inadequate for taller drivers due to the lack of a telescoping steering wheel. Despite Subaru's reputation for above-average handling, the Tribeca feels soft and uninvolving from the helm, so those who want a sporting flavor should look elsewhere. Another downside is cargo capacity, which checks in at 74 cubic feet, a low number for a midsize crossover.

Attractive three-row options are plentiful at this price point. The Ford Flex is an excellent choice, as are the Buick Enclave/Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia triplets, Hyundai's Veracruz, Mazda's CX-9 and Toyota's Highlander. All of the above offer more expansive interiors, and many of them cost less, drive better and even boast higher-quality cabins. The 2010 Subaru Tribeca's avant-garde credentials are questionable at best, and it's not that good at being mainstream, either.

2010 Subaru Tribeca models

A midsize crossover SUV, the 2010 Subaru Tribeca comes in Premium, Limited and Touring trim levels, each with standard seven-passenger seating. The Premium comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, a tilt (but not telescoping) steering wheel, heated power front seats, full power accessories, cruise control, a six-speaker CD/MP3 sound system with an auxiliary input jack, a 7-inch display screen and keyless entry.

Stepping up to the Limited adds leather upholstery (vinyl for the third row), three-mode heated front seats with driver memory, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio and additional interior ambient lighting for the console. The Touring tacks on exclusive 18-inch alloys, a monotone exterior paint scheme, xenon headlamps, silver roof rails, a sunroof and a back-up camera with a small display in the auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The Touring's roof rails, back-up camera and sunroof are available on the Limited as the Moonroof package. Optional on both Limited (Moonroof package required) and Touring is a Navigation package that includes a navigation system, a back-up camera (with the camera display migrating to the navigation screen) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. These models are also eligible for a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

2010 Highlights

The Subaru Tribeca is only available in seven-passenger form for 2010, and a new top-of-the-line Touring model adds a variety of luxuries. Also, Bluetooth is standard on the Limited and Touring trims. A new back-up camera for models without the navigation system and minor equipment reshuffling round out the changes.

Performance & mpg

The 2010 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 respectable, with the 0-60-mph sprint requiring 7.8 seconds. Fuel economy is unimpressive, however, at 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.


Every 2010 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 a perfect five stars for both front and side impact protection. It also received the top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.


Subarus tend to be entertainingly quirky vehicles to drive, but the 2010 Subaru Tribeca bucks this trend. Its milquetoast character is apparent in its ho-hum handling and numb steering, though the ride is uncharacteristically smooth and quiet for a Subaru. Acceleration is respectably quick from the 256-hp flat-6.


The Tribeca's interior is its most distinctive feature. The dashboard's dramatic curves are a rarity in today's automotive landscape, adding a welcome dose of character to this otherwise bland Subaru. However, materials quality is average at best -- plastics are hard and even a bit coarse in places. 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 on hot days.

The Tribeca's front seats offer fine comfort, but the rear compartment isn't so pleasant. While the second-row seats offer nearly 8 inches of adjustable travel, they're still a bit short on legroom, and hiproom is also at a premium. As for the third row, it's simply too cramped for all but small children -- most competitors in this price range offer superior third-row accommodations. Maximum cargo capacity is just 74 cubic feet.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2010 Subaru Tribeca.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.75 out of 5 stars
Read all the reviews
South Dakota,04/20/2010
3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
I read everything on line about the Tribeca. It was frustrating as many of the reviews contradict each other (e.g. one says there is very little body roll, the brakes are great while another says there is too much body roll and the breaks are spongy). You have to drive it yourself to judge. I was a Chevy Trail Blazer owner (LTZ) and I have to say the Tribeca drives way better, is more responsive, and stops quicker than the trailblazer. Yes, a lot of reviewers say gas mileage is poor on the Tribeca. Indeed, but measure it against any other all wheel drive and none of them are any better (the reviewers seem to compare the all wheel drive of the Tribeca with the 2 wheel drive of other make
3.75 out of 5 stars
1000 km Review
Michael S.,04/29/2010
3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
My family have been loyal Volvo owners for the last 12 years. Given Volvo's current lack of a value proposition we decided to expand our horizons before purchasing a car this year. My checkpoints for our decision were a. needed to be real AWD; b. must accommodate 2 6 ft+ boys comfortably in the back seats; and c. it need to fit our budget. Point A eliminated a bunch of vehicles very quickly. Point B narrowed the list down even further. After looking at Mercedes, Audi, Volvo, VW, Toyota and Nissan's offerings we went off to look at Subaru's offerings on a friends recommendation. We took a 60 minute test drive of the car and came back thrilled with the drive, the space and the value.
5 out of 5 stars
2000 miles of joy
Alex K.,09/16/2010
3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
I was looking for 7-seat SUV as well as for luxury, safety and reliability. First I tested Audi Q7, then Acura MDX, Lexus. Then looked at Volvo XC90 and BMW X5. Not decided. Then I went to the dealership for my Forester's regular service and tested Tribeca. I felt just as comfortable in it as in the previous cars. Price was much less so it was done deal. Some complain about fuel economy of Tribeca. But guys, this is not your old little Subaru! This is almost a truck! After about 1200 miles I started getting about 16 mpg in Brooklyn and more than 21 mpg on highway. Just as promised. In line with other vehicles in the class. Also it speeds up really well in sport shift mode.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Safety and 7 passengers at a value price
3.6R Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
We purchased a Tribeca because it's the smallest and cheapest seven passenger vehicle with a perfect safety rating from both the federal government and IIHS. It's easy to drive and handles well on city streets, freeways, and winding mountain roads. Engine power and acceleration are more than adequate, although it's certainly no sports car. We've never taken it off road but the ride quality is good on rough pavement. The interior is comfortable on long trips. Climate controls are easy to use. The second row seat is wide enough to actually hold three people in reasonable comfort. Overall I am very happy with the Tribeca. There's nothing else which gives you so many features at the same price.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2010 Subaru Tribeca
More About This Model

When Subaru unveiled its first midsize SUV in 2006, it was called the B9 Tribeca. Two years into production, the B9 moniker was retired (as well as its unsightly front end), but in most ways, the Tribeca remains forgettably benign. It's a decent enough SUV on its own merits, neither failing nor excelling with any significance, but when we begin comparing the 2010 Subaru Tribeca to a crowded field of competitors, it begins to show its mediocrity.

Our 2010 Subaru Tribeca test vehicle, in range-topping Touring trim, was priced in the same range as its rivals. For the price, the features list is comparably generous, with all-wheel drive, navigation, third-row seating and pleasant interiors for all. Unfortunately for the Tribeca, it trails in terms of cargo capacity, passenger space and fuel economy. The interior design is a standout among other SUVs, but its style comes with compromised usability, as well.

The front-running Ford Flex and Chevrolet Traverse (and its Buick and GMC twins) are, quite simply, hard to beat. Toyota's Highlander and Mazda's CX-9 are also worthy of consideration. But the disappointing 2010 Tribeca should give even the most loyal Subaru fans some pause. As such, we recommend shopping the rest before committing to a purchase.

Used 2010 Subaru Tribeca Overview

The Used 2010 Subaru Tribeca is offered in the following submodels: Tribeca SUV. Available styles include 3.6R Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), 3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), and 3.6R Premium 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A). Pre-owned Subaru Tribeca models are available with a 3.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 256 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2010 Subaru Tribeca comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2010 Subaru Tribeca comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2010 Subaru Tribeca?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2010 Subaru Tribecas are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 2010 Subaru Tribecas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

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Should I lease or buy a 2010 Subaru Tribeca?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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