Tribeca features tough, rally-proven mechanicals under a contemporary and progressive interior aimed to woo hip and trendy urbanites.





We suspect the reason why Subaru’s Tribeca is flying under the popularity radar is that nobody knows what Tribeca means.

Apparently, it derives for a neighbourhood in Manhattan, N.Y., called Triangle Below Canal Street, or TriBeCa for short. Learning a little about the area can teach you a little about the vehicle: It’s one of the trendiest areas of the city, is one of the most expensive zip codes in the U.S., and is home to the Tribeca Film Festival.

Those trendy, hip, artsy types are exactly the people Subaru is hoping to attract. Their love of industrial buildings being used as cushy lofts is exactly what the Tribeca features: Tough, rally-proven mechanicals under a contemporary and progressive interior.

It’s been rated one of the best in the industry and has won a few awards, mainly because its sinewy lines and dramatic curves could have been lifted straight from Scarlett Johansson — who, incidentally, is a TriBeCa resident.

The dash gauges are electroluminescent and, combined with metallic finished-surfaced and LED accents, provide a welcoming and futuristic place to drive. I’m a big fan. Standard equipment includes a power moonroof, power adjustable (and heated) front seats, automatic climate control and a nice-sounding AM/FM/CD player with satellite radio capability. That’s in addition to the superb five-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel-drive.

It’s not a particularly sporty ride, but the quiet cabin is serene at highway speeds. Subaru says its engineers worked hard to cancel interior noise and you can’t hear the result of their good job. Which is a good thing. But it just makes the rear seat passengers sound even louder, with available third row seating. That brings total seat count up to seven — but is not an option on the base model. You’d have to spend $45,195 for the Limited model at the very least to gain the extra buckets.

In its Limited trim, the Tribeca adds other niceties, but the strong mechanicals and complement of safety features are standard across the board.

When Subaru reworked the Tribeca slightly for 2008, it also made some powertrain changes by beefing up the horsepower and dropping the premium fuel requirement — a good move now that high gas prices look like they’re here to stay. Another reduction in operating costs comes from the no-charge maintenance for three years or 60,000 kilometres.

Hip and trendy urbanites will be hard-pressed to find a better SUV for their driving needs. For everyone else, give the Tribeca a look when it’s time to shop for the functional utility of a crossover.

2008 Subaru Tribeca

  • Type: Mid-size 5- or 7-pass. SUV AWD

  • Price: $41,995

  • Engine: 3.6L H6 DOHC

  • HP: 256 @ 6,000 rpm

  • Torque: 247 @ 4,400 rpm


  • Interior design

  • Powertrain

  • No-charge maintenance

  • Standard safety equipment