2012 Subaru Tribeca Review

Pros & Cons

  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • stylish cabin design.
  • Cramped third-row seat
  • limited cargo capacity
  • steering wheel doesn't telescope
  • unimpressive fuel economy
  • pricey.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$11,216 - $15,375

Used Tribeca for Sale
None for sale nearby. Instead:
See all for sale

cash graphic with confetti

Get More For Your Trade-In

2012 Subaru Tribeca appraisal values can range from $7,576 - $13,214.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Subaru Tribeca has a few things going for it, but in the end most other midsize crossover SUVs will be better choices.

Vehicle overview

The Subaru Tribeca came early to the crossover party, offering a utility package wrapped around traditional Subaru automotive components, and it seemed like a winner from the start. It embraced leading-edge design with a self-consciously stylish execution, while Subaru's tractable engine and all-wheel drive delivered the right kind of all-weather mobility.

Sadly the Tribeca has never found the popular acclaim that Subaru anticipated. There really isn't anything wrong with this midsize crossover, but it never quite cuts through the clutter of competitors. The 2012 Subaru Tribeca excels at very little, which is tough when competing against other family crossovers that are newer, more spacious, better to drive and boast more features.

A firestorm of criticism ignited by the first Tribeca's grille design has unfortunately cowed Subaru's stylists, so the vehicle's exterior has grown more generic in the current generation, although the exuberant interior detailing remains. Another issue is size, as what once was just about right for five passengers hasn't been improved by the addition of a small, cramped third-row seat. Meanwhile, the tractable drivability and all-weather capability come at the price of some impact on fuel economy.

The Subaru Tribeca falls into the vast middle ground of crossover SUVs, crowded on one side by larger, more generic midsize packages like the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, and then measured on the other by entry-level versions of premium European vehicles like the Audi Q5. Meanwhile, the Subaru Forester SUV and Subaru Outback wagon further confuse the process of choice. Only the promise of seven-passenger capacity (however uncomfortable) really sets the 2012 Subaru Tribeca apart from its competition.

2012 Subaru Tribeca models

The 2012 Subaru Tribeca is a seven-passenger midsize crossover SUV that's offered in Premium, Limited and Touring trim levels.

Standard features on the Premium model include 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control with separate rear air-conditioning control, cloth upholstery, heated power front seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), reclining 40/20/40-split second-row seats, 50/50-split third-row seats, a tilt-only steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

Stepping up to the Limited adds leather upholstery (vinyl for the third row), driver seat memory functions, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio. The Moonroof package adds a sunroof, roof rails and a rearview camera.

The Touring will get you exclusive 18-inch wheels, a monotone exterior paint scheme, HID headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and the Moonroof package.

The Limited and Touring are available with an optional Navigation package that includes a navigation system and an upgraded rearview camera (uses the navigation screen for the camera display rather than the rearview mirror). A rear-seat DVD entertainment system can be added to this package.

Latest Subaru News from Edmunds
Watch Review
Kia Telluride vs. Honda Pilot vs. Subaru Ascent | Midsize Family SUV Comparison Test

2012 Highlights

The 2012 Subaru Tribeca returns essentially unchanged from the previous model year.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 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 with a manual shift mode is the only transmission offered. Every Tribeca features an all-wheel-drive system that sends 55 percent of the power to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions.

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 2012 Subaru Tribeca include antilock brakes (with brake assist), traction control, 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.


From behind the steering wheel, the 2012 Subaru Tribeca feels competent, maneuverable and easy to drive, with the light-effort steering enhancing an overall feeling of nimbleness. The suspension soaks up both big bumps and small pavement imperfections nicely. The 3.6-liter engine produces adequate acceleration, although it doesn't project a powerful personality and full throttle invites lots of noise and poor fuel economy. The five-speed automatic transmission also might be limiting the Tribeca's pure performance. Nevertheless, the all-wheel-drive Tribeca is an especially good choice when slippery traction is an issue.


This is a stylish interior, far from the generic space that you might expect. The driver seat also offers the kind of spacious visibility that no longer is available elsewhere, but the lack of a telescoping steering wheel compromises the driving position for the very tall or very short.

The second-row seats aren't exactly spacious, but they do incorporate the ability to slide fore-and-aft so you can increase rear-seat legroom or cargo capacity depending on your priorities. The third-row seat is clearly an afterthought in this package, and it's really meant only for occasional use (just like third-row seats everywhere, really). The third row is particularly hard to get to, though.

With both second- and third-row seats folded down there are 74.4 cubic feet of cargo room. This is a bit more than the Subaru Outback wagon, so there clearly are benefits to the Tribeca's larger package.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Subaru Tribeca.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

3.6R Premium 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
My 4th Subaru and first Tribeca. I live in Australia and vehicle specs different to USA and Europe. Issues are, no fold back mirrors, not reversing sensors, no digital speed, no auto on/off headlights, no rear fog light/s, steering wheel not adjustiable for in and out, unable to program Sat Nav to show vehicle speed roadway speed and set over speed warning or other warnings. Also only able to install 'whereis' GPS software which cost AU$295 for a one year map. Subaru and Kenwood refused to re-program or show me how to re-program unit. No alarm system and not 'pre-wired' as advertised and then went back on deal to pay for alarm if I paid for fitting. Subaru lied and no after sales support.
Less than 13 mpg. instead of Subaru advertised 16mpg
3.6R Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
We bought a 2011 and from the begining had back support problem, we decided since couln't get our money back to get a 2012 (design is better) but now we are stuck with 7 years paying this gas eater.
Well rounded rude
3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
Comfortable, roomy, enjoyable to drive.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover16.4%
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 2012 Subaru Tribeca

Used 2012 Subaru Tribeca Overview

The Used 2012 Subaru Tribeca is offered in the following submodels: Tribeca SUV. Available styles include 3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), 3.6R Touring 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 2012 Subaru Tribeca comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2012 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 2012 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 2012 Subaru Tribecas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Subaru Tribeca for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Subaru Tribeca.

Can't find a used 2012 Subaru Tribecas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Tribeca for sale - 12 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $19,498.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 8 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $19,905.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Tribeca for sale - 7 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $10,890.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 6 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $12,889.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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.

Check out Subaru lease specials
Check out Subaru Tribeca lease specials