Subaru Tribeca – Love is a Funny Thing

2009 Subaru Tribeca

Subaru’s latest commercial campaign touts very little in terms of product attributes but rather focuses on the relationship that their loyal owners have with their Subarus. According to the marketing campaign it is LOVE that makes a Subaru, a Subaru and in terms of brand strategy, it seems to be working. Subaru is one of the few auto makers that is increasing their sales during this challenging economic times.

2009 Subaru Tribeca

Marketing campaigns aside, the product planners want to make sure that once you fall in love with a Subaru, you’ll be able to stay in the family when it is time for a new vehicle. Up until 2006, if you wanted to be part of the Subie love affair and you had more than 5 people to carry around, you were out of luck. The product planners realized the need for something larger and developed a 7-passenger crossover vehicle based on the Legacy platform called the Tribeca. This, they argued, would keep Subaru owners from straying from the brand and the Love fest could continue.
We reviewed the Subaru Tribeca last year after Subaru did some emergency cosmetic surgery in the form of a new front end and tightened rear. That review was based on a day of driving in and around Palm Springs, CA. While the mountains outside of the desert are challenging and showed off the Subaru’s handling abilities, one day behind the wheel can only give a snapshot of what is like to live with a vehicle. It was a great first date but in order to simulate a real relationship, we wanted to spend a week with the Tribeca.
I just received a 2009 Subaru Tribeca to test drive for a week and after a few days of driving, I thought I’d check in to let you know how the affair is going and to see if there is indeed Love in the air.
My first full day with the vehicle was the perfect test for the Tribeca’s asymmetrical AWD. As I headed out early Friday morning to an event at the Consumer Report’s automotive testing center in central CT the heavens opened up and I drove for three hours in torrential rain. The big Subie seemed not to notice the deluge and we motored north hindered only by the lesser vehicles (and drivers?) that seemed to be tip-toeing down the road. The combination of the weight of the vehicle and the standard AWD made a potentially nerve-wracking trip less stressful. Knowing that it achieved 5-star crash rating was comforting as well.

2009 Subaru Tribeca

At over 4,140 lbs, the Tribeca is heavy and and feels very planted but the new 3.6 boxer six-cylinder engine felt very energetic. Merging onto the Garden State parkway and navigating the traffic on the Tappan Zee bridge was easy with 256 HP on tap. The rated fuel mileage is not the best in its class (18 city/21 hwy) but you have to remember that all Subaru’s are all-wheel drive (AWD) and when compared to it’s competitors with their optional AWD, the mileage figures are about on par. I averaged 18 MPG on the first tank of fuel and in the middle of the second tank the trip computer is showing 20.6 MPG.
So far the courting ritual is going well. I have to say I’m not finding excuses to drive the Tribeca but I can imagine living with it on a daily basis. I’m sure after a few more days, I’ll find a few things I don’t like but nobody’s perfect, right? I wonder if it puts the cap back on the toothpaste?
Final installment later this week.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 – They are picking up the Tribeca tomorrow and I’ll be leaving our relationship with mixed feelings. Our time spent together was pleasant and the Tribeca proved to be incredibly competent on the challenging roads in the tri-state area but I never got that tingling feeling when piloting the vehicle. With that said, if I needed a vehicle with seating for 7 and Subaru’s were “my thing”, I might be more interested.
As with any potential partner, you should weigh the positives and negatives before jumping in to a full-time relationship.
– Interior cock-pit styling for front passengers
– 5-Star Safety Rating
– Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system is always ready
– Peppy engine that delivers acceptable fuel mileage
– Great fun-to-drive quotient for its class
– Excellent turning radius for its class
– Choice of Sirius or XM radio
– While the styling is MUCH better than before, it doesn’t say “Subaru” anymore
– Tight third row leg room
– Navigation system is not as advanced as competitors
For many I think there could be something akin to the “L-Word” with this car. Clearly, when looking at my list above, there isn’t anything wrong with the Tribeca. It’s just that it doesn’t make me think LOVE. How can I say this without hurting the Tribecas feelings: “I’m not ready for a relationship” or “You just aren’t my type” or even “Can we be friends”?
Yes, love is a funny thing. While I didn’t find love with the Tribeca, I wouldn’t hesitate to introduce it to my friends. It is an attractive, solid and safe performer that will satisfy those looking for those traits. For the rest of you, there is

Subaru is a gay-friendly company.

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