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2008 Subaru Tribeca

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2008 Subaru Tribeca Review

The 2008 Subaru Tribeca is a big improvement over previous years and should be on the radar for anyone looking to buy a midsize crossover SUV.

Reviewed by Automotive on


When the Subaru Tribeca came on the market in 2006, it was intended to be the next ""big thing."" Unfortunately, several mechanical faults and glitches quickly reduced its overall desirability. Since then, Subaru redesigned the Tribeca to include many new features and amenities. For example, the new engine and transmission are welcomed improvements to a vehicle that previously struggled to perform on the highway. Several cosmetic improvements were added as well, including a redesigned front fascia and some minor interior alterations.

The new 2008 Subaru Tribeca is a firmly built commuter with a lot to offer the average consumer.

The Range

Body Styles: midsize crossover SUV, 5-passenger or 7-passenger
Engines: 3.6-liter horizontally-opposed six-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Models: Subaru Tribeca 5-passenger, Subaru Tribeca 7-passenger, Subaru Tribeca Limited 5-passenger, Subaru Tribeca Limited 7-passenger

What's New

The 2008 Subaru Tribeca received some significant updates this model year. There is a new 3.6-liter, horizontally-opposed, six-cylinder engine under the hood. With the addition of a new five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, the engine now features much smoother shifting – a major problem in the past. The suspension in the rear is softer as well. On top of all that, the second and third row seats were redesigned for easier passenger entrance and exit.


The exterior of the 2008 Subaru Tribeca has also received a bit of a refresh. The awkward-looking fascia has been redesigned to appeal more to a mainstream audience, as the previous look was a bit adventurous, to say the least. Overall, the new Tribeca is a much more handsome vehicle. Standard features on the base models include 18-inch alloy wheels. The limited edition also includes a moon roof and roof rails.


The interior of the 2008 Subaru Tribeca has seen major improvements from previous model years. A central display screen gives information on the climate control and audio system. The controls are easy to find and use for the most part. The only issue involves the air conditioning controls, which are a bit awkward. Similarly, the air conditioning itself struggles to keep the vehicle cool, especially when carrying a lot of passengers.

The front seats of the vehicle are very comfortable, but the second and third rows are a bit cramped. While the second row can fit adult passengers, the third row seat is for children only. Folding the rear seat down will provide 74 cubic feet of cargo space, which is about average for SUVs in this class.

Performance & Handling

The 2008 Subaru Tribeca is powered by a 3.6-liter, horizontally-opposed, six-cylinder engine that produces 256 horsepower with 247 pound-feet of torque. This is an improvement of 11 horsepower and 32 pound-feet of torque over the previous years. This new engine does not differ from previous models in fuel economy, which is a bit of a surprise considering how vastly different other components of the engine are. This is due primarily to the new five-speed automatic transmission with manual controls. This new transmission improves the fluidity of the engine, which was a major problem in previous models. The new engine runs on regular fuel as well (the previous version required Premium). All 2008 Subaru Tribeca models have all-wheel drive that uses 55 percent of the power in the rear wheels during normal driving conditions.

The 2008 Subaru Tribeca is a vastly improved ride when compared to the previous models. However, the ride quality isn’t as exciting as other vehicles in the Subaru line. The handling is mediocre due to the softer suspension, and there is quite a bit of body roll as the vehicle steers into turns at high speed. The ride itself; however, is very smooth and quiet. The cabin doesn’t allow any wind noise, and the suspension takes the brunt of most big bumps in the road.


All 2008 Subaru Tribeca models come with an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), brake assist, traction control, stability control, and a rollover sensor that prepares the vehicle for an impending collision. More standard features include front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and active head restraints that prevent whiplash.

EPA Fuel Economy

Subaru Tribeca 5-passenger: 16/21 mpg city/highway
Subaru Tribeca 7-passenger: 16/21 mpg city/highway
Subaru Tribeca Limited 5-passenger: 16/21 mpg city/highway
Subaru Tribeca Limited 7-passenger: 16/21 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Nice ride quality
  • Small size perfect for city driving
  • Great interior design

You Won't Like

  • Small second and third row seat
  • Small cargo capacity
  • Mediocre handling
  • Pricey

Sum Up

The 2008 Subaru Tribeca is a big improvement over previous years and should be on the radar for anyone looking to buy a midsize crossover SUV.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Honda Pilot
  • Hyundai Veracruz
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Toyota Highlander

See the New 2014 Tribeca.

Front & Driver Side View