2009 Subaru Tribeca

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2009 Subaru Tribeca Review

Midsize crossover SUV that handles like a minivan.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Subaru Tribeca underwent a significant refresh for the launch of the 2008 model. As such, the 2009 Subaru Tribeca is relatively unchanged compared to the previous year’s model. The only change was the addition of a Special Edition trim line.

The 2009 Subaru Tribeca is a midsize SUV that comes in either five-passenger or seven-passenger seating versions. It is unique amongst other vehicles in its class since all 2009 Subaru Tribeca models have all-wheel drive as standard.

The Range

Body Styles: midsize crossover five-door SUV
Engines: 3.6-liter six-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Models: Tribeca, Tribeca Special Edition, Tribeca Limited

What's New

The only change seen in 2009 is the addition of the Subaru Tribeca Special Edition model. As with the base and Limited models, the new Special Edition trim line is available as a five- or seven-seater vehicle. Standard features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, air-conditioning in the rear, memory settings for the driver’s seat, and an upgraded six-CD audio system.


Subaru is known for having unique styling, and that also applies to the 2009 Subaru Tribeca. Although the refresh for the 2008 model brought this midsize crossover SUV more in line with other vehicles within its class, it is still unique enough to be able to find in a crowd. All models have 8.4 inches of ground clearance to allow for off-road driving. They are fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels as standard.


The 2009 Subaru Tribeca interior has a higher-end look and feel due to the materials used and the placement of instruments and controls. The center console is fitted with a display screen in all models, even if the navigation system isn’t included. The screen provides clear and easy-to-read information for the climate control and audio systems, as well as the navigation system.

The 2009 Subaru Tribeca front seats are comfortable and provide plenty of head and leg room for most passengers. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rear seats. The Tribeca is slightly smaller than some of its competitors. The second row of seating does slide forward and back up to eight inches, but even adults and older kids may find that leg and hip room is insufficient. The third row of seating is only suitable for smaller children.

Performance & Handling

Although there are three 2009 Subaru Tribeca trim lines, there is only one engine and one transmission available. All models come equipped with a 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine that provides 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is a five-speed automatic equipped with a manual shift mode. All models have all-wheel drive as standard, but do not include low-range gearing.

The Tribeca’s ride is smooth and quieter than most Subaru vehicles. The use of all season tires and a softly-tuned suspension mean that the vehicle’s handling is not as good as its potential. Drivers may find that the 2009 Subaru Tribeca feels more like a minivan than a crossover SUV and will want to slow down for cornering. The Tribeca's smaller size does improve maneuverability compared to other vehicles in its class.

With the addition of a towing package, maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds. Without the towing package, the maximum towing capacity is reduced to 2000 pounds.


As with other Subaru vehicles, the 2009 Subaru Tribeca is one of the safest vehicles on the road. It earned top scores across all crash testing scenarios for both front and side impacts. All models are equipped with anti-lock brakes with brake assist, traction control, stability control with a rollover sensor, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and active head restraints as standard safety equipment.

EPA Fuel Economy

Tribeca: 16/21 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Excellent safety record
  • Smooth and quiet ride

You Won't Like

  • Passenger seating room lacking
  • Steering and handling can be soft

Sum Up

Midsize crossover SUV that handles like a minivan.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Toyota Highlander
  • Ford Flex
  • Mazda CX-9

See the New 2014 Tribeca.

Front & Driver Side View

2009 Subaru Tribeca Consumer Rating

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