You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

2010 Subaru Tribeca REVIEW logo 4/5/2017

Con: Cramped third-row seat, limited cargo capacity, steering wheel doesn't telescope, indifferent driving dynamics, unimpressive fuel economy.

The 2010 Subaru Tribeca's 3.6-liter, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine produces 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. The sole transmission is a five-speed automatic with a manual shift mode. All Tribecas use an all-wheel-drive system that sends 55 percent of the power to the rear wheels in normal driving.

Performance is respectable, with the 0-60-mph sprint requiring 7.8 seconds. Fuel economy is unimpressive, however, at 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.

Interior: The Tribeca's interior is its most distinctive feature. The dashboard's dramatic curves are a rarity in today's automotive landscape, adding a welcome dose of character to this otherwise bland Subaru. However, materials quality is average at best -- plastics are hard and even a bit coarse in places. We like the central display screen that shows climate control and audio information, a feature found on the Tribeca whether or not the navigation system is ordered. However, the arrangement of some controls is awkward, and the air-conditioner struggles to keep the cabin cool on hot days.

The Tribeca's front seats offer fine comfort, but the rear compartment isn't so pleasant. While the second-row seats offer nearly 8 inches of adjustable travel, they're still a bit short on legroom, and hiproom is also at a premium. As for the third row, it's simply too cramped for all but small children -- most competitors in this price range offer superior third-row accommodations. Maximum cargo capacity is just 74 cubic feet.

Body: A midsize crossover SUV, the 2010 Subaru Tribeca comes in Premium, Limited and Touring trim levels, each with standard seven-passenger seating. The Premium comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, a tilt (but not telescoping) steering wheel, heated power front seats, full power accessories, cruise control, a six-speaker CD/MP3 sound system with an auxiliary input jack, a 7-inch display screen and keyless entry.

Stepping up to the Limited adds leather upholstery (vinyl for the third row), three-mode heated front seats with driver memory, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio and additional interior ambient lighting for the console. The Touring tacks on exclusive 18-inch alloys, a monotone exterior paint scheme, xenon headlamps, silver roof rails, a sunroof and a back-up camera with a small display in the auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The Touring's roof rails, back-up camera and sunroof are available on the Limited as the Moonroof package. Optional on both Limited (Moonroof package required) and Touring is a Navigation package that includes a navigation system, a back-up camera (with the camera display migrating to the navigation screen) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. These models are also eligible for a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Safety: Every 2010 Subaru Tribeca comes with antilock brakes (with brake assist), traction control and stability control with a rollover sensor. Front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints round out the safety features.

In government crash tests, the Tribeca scored a perfect five stars for both front and side impact protection. It also received the top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Pro: Stylish interior design, standard all-wheel drive, perfect crash-test scores.

Driving: Subarus tend to be entertainingly quirky vehicles to drive, but the 2010 Subaru Tribeca bucks this trend. Its milquetoast character is apparent in its ho-hum handling and numb steering, though the ride is uncharacteristically smooth and quiet for a Subaru. Acceleration is respectably quick from the 256-hp flat-6.

Edmunds Say: Although it provides all-weather capability and a distinctive dashboard design, the 2010 Subaru Tribeca is generally outclassed by other midsize crossovers.

What’s New: The Subaru Tribeca is only available in seven-passenger form for 2010, and a new top-of-the-line Touring model adds a variety of luxuries. Also, Bluetooth is standard on the Limited and Touring trims. A new back-up camera for models without the navigation system and minor equipment reshuffling round out the changes.

Introduction: The 2010 Subaru Tribeca takes its name from the artsy New York City neighborhood, and indeed, this Subaru has a little avant-garde in its genes. Boasting standard all-wheel drive and a futuristic dashboard design, the Tribeca would seem to be aimed at those who appreciate a daring departure from the norm. Beyond these elements, however, the Tribeca turns out to be a surprisingly forgettable midsize crossover SUV. It's not bad, but it's also not as good as many rivals.

Taken on its own merits, the Tribeca is a perfectly competent vehicle. Seven-passenger seating is standard for 2010, and the now-familiar 3.6-liter flat-6 joins forces with the standard AWD system to deliver solid year-round performance. The Tribeca is also a bit smaller than the average midsize crossover, making it a boon for those who navigate crowded streets and parking lots on a regular basis. Moreover, the Tribeca's ride is smooth and quiet -- unusually so for a Subaru.

Alas, shortcomings abound. The third-row seat is little more than a token gesture for marketing purposes, as there's no way an adult or even a growing child could fit back there comfortably. The driving position is inadequate for taller drivers due to the lack of a telescoping steering wheel. Despite Subaru's reputation for above-average handling, the Tribeca feels soft and uninvolving from the helm, so those who want a sporting flavor should look elsewhere. Another downside is cargo capacity, which checks in at 74 cubic feet, a low number for a midsize crossover.

Attractive three-row options are plentiful at this price point. The Ford Flex is an excellent choice, as are the Buick Enclave/Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia triplets, Hyundai's Veracruz, Mazda's CX-9 and Toyota's Highlander. All of the above offer more expansive interiors, and many of them cost less, drive better and even boast higher-quality cabins. The 2010 Subaru Tribeca's avant-garde credentials are questionable at best, and it's not that good at being mainstream, either.


image beaconimage beaconimage beacon