2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca. Click image to enlarge

By Chris Chase; photos by Jil McIntosh and Grant Yoxon

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Photo Gallery: 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca

When I write these used vehicle review columns, I tend to focus on cars and trucks that are being replaced or dropped from an automaker’s line-up altogether. So perhaps it’s a bit premature to look at Subaru’s B9 Tribeca after just two years on the market.

But with the 2008 model due to arrive shortly at Subaru dealers with a new name, new front and rear styling, a new engine and some new bits aimed at improving transmission performance, I thought it’d be interesting to review the highs and lows of the earliest version.

If you like the styling of the original B9 Tribeca, you can count yourself in the minority: its looks were one of the model’s most controversial aspects, what with the “airplane” inspired front end and a rear end that Senior Writer Paul Williams delicately describes as, uh, “delicate.”

2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca. Click image to enlarge

The powertrain was an issue, too. While the 3.0-litre flat six’s 245 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque sound decent and is probably enough to get the B9 Tribeca out of its own way, it would no doubt feel sluggish loaded up with five people and their stuff – or seven people, if you took home a seven-seat model.

Natural Resources Canada fuel economy estimates for the B9 Tribeca were 13.3 L/100 km in the city and 9.5 L/100 km on the highway: about average for the class, but this Subie likes to drink premium. Factor in real-world fuel use – almost always higher than NRCan estimates – of more like 15 L/100 km in city driving, and you’re looking at an expensive proposition to feed yours.

At least reliability seems to be a strong point. A few owners posting in the Tribeca forum at the North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club (NASIOC.com) report damaged driver’s door weatherstripping, caused by contact with plastic trim around the door opening.

2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca. Click image to enlarge

Other drivers complain that the B9 Tribeca’s body panels seem prone to small dents; one poster blames aluminum bodywork, but I couldn’t find any information to confirm whether the Tribeca uses aluminum body panels or more traditional steel pieces.

Another quirk is hard shifting when the transmission is cold; one NASIOC.com poster says his dealer got rid of the problem by reprogramming the transmission control unit.

But I’m kind of grasping at straws here – there don’t appear to any serious common problems with the B9 Tribeca. Consumer Reports’ data on 2006 models backs that up; the magazine gives it an above average used vehicle rating. Transport Canada issued no recalls for the Tribeca in its first two model years.

2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca. Click image to enlarge

I can’t argue with the B9 Tribeca’s safety rating: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2006 and 2007 model five stars all around for frontal and side impact safety; and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave it “good” ratings in its frontal offset and side impact crash tests.

Price-wise, the Tribeca was never particularly cheap, but shopping the used market will take the edge off, at least a bit. According to Canadian Red Book, 2006 models are worth between $35,225 (basic five-passenger model) and $44,100 for a loaded seven-passenger Limited model with navigation.

Red Book doesn’t have used values for 2007 models yet, but the one ’07 I found for sale in Ontario via AutoTrader.ca was a high-mileage (15,000 km) top-end seven-seat Limited model with navigation going for $39,900 – a big discount off that model’s $53,000 MSRP. Overall, used real-world prices seem a little high, which probably leaves some room for negotiating.

2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca
2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca. Click image to enlarge

Thing is, besides its apparently strong reliability so far, I can’t find a compelling reason to buy a B9 Tribeca – unless you like weird-looking, slightly underpowered SUVs that can be had with cramped third-row seats. The first-generation Toyota Highlander (a review of which can be found here) can be found cheaper, is far better looking – even if it’s a little dull in the styling department – and has a proven strong reliability history. It’ll probably get better real-world fuel economy, too.

So if weird is your thing, then an early Tribeca might be a good fit. But otherwise, you might be better off sticking to the mainstream.

Online resources

The Tribeca forum at NASIOC.com is about as active a community as you’ll find related to these slow-selling SUVs. This section sees a fraction of the activity as those dedicated to Subies like the Impreza and Legacy, but many of the threads in here are useful and informative. You can also try the Tribeca section at ScoobyMods.com but there’s not much to see there.

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Manufacturer’s Website



Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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