Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
With seating for seven, the 2014 Tribeca offers families who have outgrown their Outback or Forester a way to stay in the Subaru brand. The Subaru Tribeca is notable for its standard 6-cylinder engine and sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, but it lags most of its 3-row SUV rivals in technology and fuel economy while still commanding a nearly $35,000 starting price.
You'll Like The 2014 Subaru Tribeca If...
If you’ve been a longtime member of the Subaru family, but your own brood has outgrown your 5-passenger sedan or wagon, the 2014 Tribeca SUV is the answer. Good resale value is another feather in the Subaru’s cap.
You May Not Like The 2014 Subaru Tribeca If...
If you want the latest tech or safety features and fuel-economy figures better than 16/21 mpg, look beyond the Tribeca. Most of its 3-row SUV rivals are fresher and offer more advanced infotainment systems and better fuel efficiency.
The only change of note for the 2014 Subaru Tribeca is that the moonroof and small 3.5-inch rear-camera display that had previously been bundled into a package are now standard.
The Tribeca’s cabin is most notable for its dash design, a wave pattern that visually delights but unfortunately places some radio and heating controls at odd angles from the driver. The controls themselves are easy to discern, but like the rest of the Tribeca they are feeling dated. Legroom is good in the middle row, but the 2-passenger third row is very tight for adults. Cargo capacity, too, is limited to just 8.3 cubic feet with the last row in place but increases considerably with the seats folded. The now-standard moonroof helps the cabin feel more airy.
The original 2006 Tribeca’s face was unique, if not beautiful. A refresh in 2008 brought about the more palatable, if somewhat generic, front end it wears today. Instead of a narrow snout, the latest Tribeca’s grille looks far more appealing with broad horizontal slats. The Subaru’s rear is nicely rounded, with twin exhaust tips peeking out from below the bumper. The Tribeca boasts 8.4 inches of ground clearance, another boon for those who regularly contend with snow-covered roads. Unlike more and more of its competitors, the Tribeca does not offer a power tailgate, so you’ll have to do the opening and closing the old-fashioned way.
Although the 2014 Subaru Tribeca is aging, it still feels invigorating for a larger SUV. This family hauler’s handling is responsive and its steering feels satisfyingly firm. Throwing this big Subie into a corner yields some body lean, but overall the Tribeca inspires confidence thanks to its low center of gravity and standard AWD system. Subaru’s sophisticated AWD system has made many believers in the brand with its ability to get a grip in snowy conditions. The Tribeca’s version is tailored to normally split power in a 45/55 proportion that favors the rear wheels. If a tire loses grip, such as on a slippery road, the Subaru automatically and immediately transfers power to the wheels with the best traction. The Tribeca’s 3.6-liter engine delivers good performance thanks to its 256 horsepower, and shift points of the 5-speed automatic transmission have been improved vs. previous versions.
The 2014 Subaru Tribeca has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $35,000. This is a $1,500 increase over last year, due to the moonroof package now being included in this year’s model. At the high end, a Tribeca with navigation and optional accessories can reach around $40,000. The Tribeca’s starting price is higher than that of the Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Santa Fe, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9, but the gap closes when optioning those other models with all-wheel drive and a 6-cylinder engine where applicable, both of which are standard on the Subaru. The Tribeca’s resale value is predicted to remain strong, but still trail competitors such as the newer Hyundai Santa Fe.
Unlike most of its competitors, the 2014 Subaru Tribeca is offered in just one trim: Limited. That being the case, all Tribecas feature a good deal of features but not much variance in price. A standard model includes all-wheel drive, 385-watt/10-speaker harman/kardon premium audio system with AM/FM/CD changer, dual-zone climate control, power front seats (8-way driver/4-way passenger), Bluetooth phone connectivity, moonroof, HomeLink remote transponder and the aforementioned leather seating. The 2014 Tribeca rides on 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Roadside assistance is also included as part of the 3-year limited warranty.
The sole package offered on the Subaru Tribeca bundles a navigation system, DVD rear-seat entertainment system with a pair of wireless headphones, and larger rearview camera display. Individual add-ons include remote engine starter, puddle lights, kayak and bike carriers and a dog guard/compartment separator to bring along the canine family member.
SPLIT/RECLINING/FOLDING/2ND-ROW SEATSBeyond the expected 60/40-split tumbling feature, the Tribeca’s 2nd-row seatbacks fold down individually in a 40/20/40 configuration, allowing the narrow middle section to make way for skis or divide a pair of arguing kids. The seats also slide fore-aft nearly eight inches, and the seatbacks recline for further passenger comfort and cargo flexibility.STANDARD LEATHER SEATINGWhile most mainstream cars now offer leather, it often costs extra or is reserved for higher level – and higher-priced – trims. Every 2014 Tribeca, however, features leather-trimmed upholstery standard for the first and second rows.
Under the Hood
The Subaru Tribeca offers a single drivetrain combo, a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer engine producing 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque, a 5-speed automatic transmission and symmetrical AWD. A boxer engine is called just that because of its horizontal positioning that makes the pistons move back and forth like a fighter’s fists. With its low profile and naturally balanced design, the boxer engine and AWD provide a confident feeling of stability even when taking corners, unusual for a 7-seat SUV. Power is more than sufficient, but towing capacity tops out at 3,500 pounds, less than that of competitors such as the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Chevrolet Traverse. The engine’s fuel economy has since been passed by those of fresher competitors, but at least it uses regular unleaded gasoline.3.6-liter flat-6256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21 mpg
For brand loyalists, perhaps the most important thing about the 2014 Subaru Tribeca is that it’s a Subaru. As the automaker’s largest and most expensive vehicle, the 7-passenger Tribeca SUV offers families who have outgrown their Outback or Forester a way to move up. The Tribeca is notable for its standard 6-cylinder boxer engine and sophisticated all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, which enable this 3-row SUV to be a tenacious handler in slick and snowy conditions. However, the aging Tribeca trails rivals such as the Nissan Pathfinder, Chevrolet Traverse and Hyundai Santa Fe in technology, fuel economy and feature availability while still commanding a nearly $35,000 starting price.