Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2009 Subaru Tribeca If...
If you’re a Subaru devotee whose family is too large for an Outback or Forester, the Tribeca is the logical choice. First-time Subaru buyers will find the Tribeca’s good fuel economy, strong resale and proven reliability very inviting.
You May Not Like The 2009 Subaru Tribeca If...
If you need room for seven adults, the Tribeca’s child-sized third-row seat falls short. Those who don’t need all-wheel drive can save money by shopping one of the Tribeca’s less expensive front-wheel-drive competitors.
There are no major changes for the 2009 Subaru Tribeca.
Excellent fit and finish, appealing materials and an uncommon dash design are the hallmarks of the 2009 Subaru Tribeca interior. The wave-shaped dashboard visually delights, but its severe curve places some radio and heating controls at odd angles from the driver. Digital readouts for the fuel, temperature and information screen look attractive, but can fade when viewed through polarized sunglass lenses. Convenient tilt-and-slide second-row seat controls allow easy access to the third row. We applaud the ample distribution of cup holders and wide front seating, which also features adjustable lumbar support for both the driver and passenger. Useful features include in auxiliary audio input jack and optional GPS navigation and rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
The original Tribeca’s face was unique, if not beautiful. Last year’s face lift brought about a more palatable, if somewhat generic, front end. The 2009 Subaru Tribeca’s grille features horizontal slats below the familiar Subaru star cluster badge flanked by large headlamps and front fenders that impart a strong road presence. Large side-view mirrors and rear windows, along with narrow D-pillars help with visibility. Around back, the Tribeca touts large, easily visible taillights and a sporty rear valance. Last year’s revised rear suspension carries over for 2009, helping improve handling while yielding an impressive 8.4 inches of ground clearance.
A few minutes behind the wheel and it’s evident the Tribeca is not your run-of-the-mill SUV. The handling is responsive and the steering firm and linear. Driving into sharp curves yields some reasonable and expected body lean, but nothing that’s surprising or uncomfortable. The all-wheel-drive system splits power in a 45/55 proportion that favors the rear wheels. In the event of tire slippage, power is immediately transferred to the wheels with better traction, helping the driver to maintain control. The new 3.6-liter engine delivers good performance, while the new shift points programmed into the automatic transmission lessen the number of gear changes required when climbing hills or moving through varying traffic.
The five-passenger 2009 Subaru Tribeca has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a little over $30,500, while the Limited starts closer to $33,000 and a fully loaded tops out around $40,000. To make your best deal, be sure to look at the Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area have paid for their vehicles. Now in its fourth year of production, the Tribeca continues to hold strong resale value, just below the Ford Flex and GMC Acadia, on par with the Honda Pilot and Toyota 4Runner, and better than the Ford Explorer and Hyundai Santa Fe.
The 2009 Subaru Tribeca features a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, five-speed automatic with SPORTSHIFT manual gear change function, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with traction control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), 18-inch alloy wheels, front side-impact and side-curtain airbags for the first and second row seats, tire pressure monitoring system, rear defroster, heated side mirrors, eight-way power driver’s seat, four-way power passenger’s seat, power windows, power door locks, 100-watt stereo with single-disc CD player with MP3 compatibility, cruise control, cloth seating, driver and passenger manual lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt steering wheel and rear window wiper. Seven-passenger models include rear air conditioning.
Options include XM or Sirius Satellite Radio, Reverse Assist Sensors, auto-dimming mirror and remote start. Upgrading to the Limited trim adds leather seating, two-position driver memory, heated front seats, power glass moonroof, HomeLink remote control system and 160-watt six-disc CD player with nine speakers and a rear subwoofer. Options for the Limited trim include GPS navigation, rear-vision camera and rear-seat DVD entertainment system (seven-passenger model only).
Rear Vision CameraThis optional feature allows the driver to see objects down low and directly behind the vehicle. It’s available only on the Limited Trim.Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)This safety feature works in conjunction with the all-wheel drive to help the driver maintain control. VDC senses the direction the driver intends to go and uses selective braking and engine power reduction to help maintain control.
Under the Hood
Subaru has increased the displacement of the Tribeca’s boxer engine from 3.0 to 3.6 liters, which boosts horsepower and torque significantly. The added power is immediately felt on take-off and when passing.3.6-liter Boxer 6256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21
There are a number of five and seven-passenger SUVs on the market, so what’s so special about the 2009 Subaru Tribeca? For starters, every Tribeca is equipped with an advanced and capable all-wheel-drive system, a comforting thought for those whose daily commute sometimes includes deep snow and heavy rain. The Tribeca’s unique boxer engine design lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity and improves vehicle stability, and the Tribeca rates well in the government’s front- and side-impact crash tests. Finally, the Tribeca’s roomy interior coddles its passengers and stimulates its driver with loads of features, although the same enthusiasm is harder to generate when it comes to the Tribeca’s exterior styling.