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Zero to 60: 2009 Subaru Tribeca Limited Edition
Zero to 60: 2009 Subaru Tribeca Limited Edition

by J.T. Hills
SGN Contributing Writer


  • Comfortable ride, nice for road trips
  • Powerful 3.6-liter horizontally opposed DOHC engine
  • Exceptional interior styling



  • Redesign in ’08 lost its unique styling
  • Backseat is a bit narrow and not very deep
  • Navigation system isn’t exactly intuitive to use

            For 2009, Subaru introduces the Special Limited trim line to the Tribeca lineup. The Tribeca Special Edition adds nice upgrades such as standard leather seating, two-position memory driver’s seat, and an upgraded 160-watt audio system with six-disc in-dash CD changer and eight speakers and rear subwoofer. The Tribeca was completely redesigned in 2008 and was formally know as the B9 Tribeca after just three model years on the market. The Tribeca is designed on the Outback platform but is 3” longer, 4”wider and 5” taller. For 2008, Subaru added a new 3.6-liter 6-cylinder Boxer engine, revised five-speed automatic transmission, and 18” wheels. After a week with the 2009 Subaru Tribeca Limited Edition, I’ve compiled a brass-tacks list of highly technical scientific data based upon observations, experimentation, tabulations, inspections and so forth. Here we go:

            Where do you go where it’s chic to drive a Subaru? Why, Oregon, of course.
            Before the weather changes, I decided to pack up and head to Seaside, Oregon for a couple of relaxing days on the beach. The Subaru Tribeca proved to be a great vehicle for a road trip; there’s tons of room to fill it full of stuff and it’s an extremely comfortable freeway cruiser. The 3.6-liter H-6 engine delivers 256 hp and 247 lb ft of torque on regular gas. In addition, the new five-speed automatic transmission features an all-new torque lockup converter and transmission control unit that provides for faster, smoother shifts with less lag time. The ride comfort of the Tribeca is also excellent without being floaty. You still have road feel without it being jarring. This all makes for a more interesting and satisfying driving experience. The Tribeca has a nice size to it; in in-town driving, it doesn’t feel like you’re taking up too much real estate putting it into a parking space. It also had a great turning radius for navigating parking garages.

            The interior ergonomics of the Tribeca are extremely sophisticated, with a twin cockpit design that features a flowing, sculpted dash and center console. The controls and gauges are all easy to find, especially in nighttime driving, and the test model came equipped with a rearview camera. The navigation system was a bit frustrating to use. In most vehicles these days, once you’ve used one, you can easily figure out the basics of them all. Not so much in the case of this one. I had to give up, get out the booklet, get frustrated, and then come back to it. The front seats were exceptionally comfortable after a couple hours of driving. The rear seats though were a bit narrow and shallow. I had a hard time imagining sitting three adults back there abreast. The third row is really only practical for children. The cargo area was easy to load and the third row folds down flat for extra space.

            Although the Tribeca now lacks the uniqueness in exterior design from the previous generation, the new body style definitely isn’t offensive; it just blends in with the pack. The performance of the 3.6-liter H-6 engine and the high quality of craftsmanship is what really makes it stand out.

            OK, for a before-tax price of $36,690, what do you get?
            The 2009 Subaru Tribeca Limited not only comes with all the bells and whistles as other high-end Japanese crossovers, it does it for less and runs on regular gasoline. It comes fully optioned with some relatively inexpensive upgrades. A quick look at the favorites includes:


  • 3.6-liter horizontally-opposed Boxer six-cylinder
  • Five-speed automatic transmission
  • Symmetrical all-wheel-drive
  • 18” wheels
  • Independent front and rear suspension


  • Dual-stage front airbags
  • Side curtain airbags all rows
  • Four-wheel antilock disc brakes
  • Tire pressure monitor
  • Back-up camera
  • Fog lamps
  • Daytime running lamps

            Comfort and Convenience

  • AM/FM six-disc in-dash CD changer six-speaker audio system
  • Dual zone climate control
  • Touch-screen navigation system
  • Power moonroof
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Leather-wrapped steering with tilt and cruise control.
  • Power windows, locks and mirrors
  • Privacy glass

            Additional Charges

    • Cargo convenience group with cargo spotlight, cargo net, and cargo tray ($142)
    • Convenience group two with puddle lights, auto-dimming mirror, and rear dome reading light ($507)
    • Crossbar kit, splash guards ($344)
    • Floor mats, front bumper under guard, and rear bumper cover ($372)
    • Destination and delivery ($645)

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