Subaru Expands B9 Tribeca Options1
New Grille and Special Edition Package Unveiled in Chicago
Though this Subaru flagship is not quite a full year old, there are some improvements for 2007 that Subaru introduced at the 2006 Chicago auto show. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents were on hand to take a look.
The 2007MY changes include more safety options, new convenience features, a revised standard grille, and an optional Special Edition package. These changes are relatively minor, as one might expect for a vehicle this fresh. The new features make the B9 Tribeca safer as well as more convenient to have in your fleet.
Two Trim Levels, Five- and Seven-Passenger Seating, One Powertrain
The B9 Tribeca continues to be offered in standard and Limited trim levels, both available with seating with five or for seven. With the 2007MY, there is a new standard brake assist system to improve emergency braking and a standard Roll Sensor system that activates side-curtain airbags if a rollover is imminent. All models are now pre-wired for XM satellite radio, the suspension tuning is revised for a smoother ride, and there is a center-console-mounted auxiliary jack for iPod and other MP3 players. No sheetmetal is changed, though there is a new black grille insert in place of the first year’s chrome accents. New options include rear parking assist sensors, a rear-vision camera system now bundled with the optional navigation system, and remote start.
The Special Edition package is available on all models for the new model year. The mesh grille design included in the package is sharp and the chrome-finish wheels help dress up the model, but those two elements and standard XM radio are all that make up the Special Edition. It is not a package that offers much for a $1295 price tag.
The B9 Tribeca continues to offer only one drivetrain: Subaru’s own 245HP 3.0L boxer six-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. The only change there from 2006 to 2007 is a result of the SAE calculations for rating standard horsepower; while the number for 2006 was 250HP the new formula indicates 245HP for 2007MY. As this is really only a math change, it is not something a driver would notice.
New Grille, Much Like the Old Grille
Photos below of a 2007 and a 2006 B9 Tribeca show chrome accents last year are gone.
Dealers Seem Satisfied with First Year Results
Though the B9 Tribeca had a slow launch, in part due to the high price point of the top-end models, by the end of 2005, reports are that sales have picked up and are nearing their internal target of 3,000 units a month. December 2005 saw sales of about 2730 units. In interviews published in Automotive News, dealers say that the model has been successful in bringing in younger, affluent buyers, reporting about 50% of B9 Tribeca buyers new to the brand, more than that with a household income above $100,000, and cross-shopping lists including Acura MDX and BMW X5. If you’ve bought a Subaru B9 Tribeca this year, make sure you fill out your VehicleVoice.com survey. AutoPacific is anxious to get your opinion and develop a third-party view of the B9 Tribeca buyer.
Another unintended consequence of the dropped Saab is more available production capacity for the B9 Tribeca. One way to use the production is to expand sales. Subaru said at launch that the B9 Tribeca would only be offered in the United States, Canada, and Chile, but with the newly available capacity, it will be exported to Europe, Japan, and Australia by the end of the year. Subaru had been gauging international interest throughout 2005, showing off its B9 Tribeca at auto shows worldwide. The decision to export may have been revisited even without the canceled Saab, but the loss of the Saab makes B9 Tribeca exports more important in terms of keeping the plant running efficiently.
2007 Changes Not Likely to Increase Sales
Though I like the changes to the grille and the added features, they do not seem like buy or not-buy factors. The most important attributes of any car or SUV, its driving performance and interior space, should be largely unaffected by these changes, and the extra features will only increase the price of a vehicle that already seems too expensive on the top end.
AutoPacific’s 2006 B9 Tribeca Experience
Among the cars that came through our driving hands last year was a 2006 B9 Tribeca. We found it to be confident and competent, but were left wondering what it does that other vehicles of its type do not, aside from its quirky-but-attractive Subaru personality. It is a competent, pleasant vehicle, but there were several of those already available. Though we didn’t have complaints about the overall ride quality, the powertrain was not particularly powerful nor fuel efficient. The cargo area easily swallowed golf gear and luggage for a long weekend for my golfing husband and myself, though packing his clubs was made easier by lowering both third and second-row seats. Two sets of clubs or more luggage may have taken more creative packing.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and our Detroit office was divided as to the success of its exterior styling. It looks better in some colors than others, and while some among us do not like the rear three-quarter view, others do. Our resident Subaru fanatic loved it, a terrific sign for the model’s prospects with Subaru loyalists.