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2012 Subaru Tribeca

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2012 Subaru Tribeca Review

Stylish, but not the class leader

Reviewed by Automotive on

The Tribeca is Subaru's premium SUV. When it first launched in 2006, it stunned the automotive community. To say its styling was quirky was an understatement, and Subaru quickly realized its many peculiarities didn't play well to the market. The last redesign was in 2008 and there are virtually no changes for 2012.

Under the hood is Subaru's powerful 3.6-liter flat-6 engine. It's not as sporty feeling as the turbocharged 2.5-liter in the Legacy, but the segment prefers the smooth power delivery of a six-cylinder. Unfortunately, it rates only 21 mpg on the highway, a figure far too low in its segment.

Inside, there's seating for seven, or seating for five with generous cargo space. The controls are well placed, and the materials are more premium feeling than Subaru's other models. On the dash, there is a dual-climate control, an available navigation system and backup camera, a Harman Kardon audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, and six airbags.

The Range

Bodystyle: SUV
Engine: 3.6-liter flat-6
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Models: Limited, Premium, Touring

What's New

The only change for 2012 is a new active head-restraint system.


When Subaru did away with the three element grille, the Tribeca became a much more attractive vehicle. With its smooth flowing lines and prominent wheel arches, it's a mature, yet sporty looking crossover SUV.


Inside, the Tribeca has several appealing design qualities, including a curvaceous dash and a clean and user friendly central display. There are the usual audio and infotainment pieces, including Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, and an available navigation system. As a seven passenger vehicle, most occupants are comfortable, but the Tribeca's third row is cramped and best suited for kids or smaller adults.

Performance & Handling

You only have one engine and transmission choice for the 2012 Subaru Tribeca, a 256 horsepower 3.6-liter flat-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Subaru's all-wheel-drive system routes 55 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions, so it drives like a sporty SUV with plenty of power to pass on the freeway.


The Tribeca features four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, dual front airbags, side seat mounted airbags, curtain first and second row overhead airbags, airbag occupancy sensor, traction control, stability control, rollover sensor, active front head restraints and full time AWD.

EPA Fuel Economy

Limited: 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway
Premium: 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway
Touring: 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Stylish design
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Capable off-road

You Won't Like

  • Small third row
  • Terrible fuel economy

Sum Up

Stylish, but not the class leader

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Edge
  • Honda Pilot
  • Hyundai Veracruz
  • Mazda CX-9

See the New 2014 Tribeca.

Front & Driver Side View