The 2011 Subaru Tribeca, selling in an MSRP range of $30,495 to $25,795 and returning fuel efficiency performance of 16/21, occupies a spot near the bottom of the affordable mid-sized SUV class. Although test drivers agree that the Tribeca, with room for seven and AWD standard is responsive, there are better crossovers on the market for the money. The decision to go standard with AWD lowers the fuel performance and competitors like the Chevrolet Traverse, at $1,200 less, offer better comfort and performance. Also take a look at the seven-seat Toyota Highlanders for $3,000 less.
The 2011 Tribeca comes in a variety of trims and uses a 3.6-liter V6 with 256 hp paired to a five-speed automatic, which can be shifted manually. Acceleration is very good, fuel economy isn't. The Highlander, for instance, gets 20/25 for the 2WD iteration. The Tribeca does get sound marks for decent braking and better-than-expected handling, with the feel erring more on the side of minivan than a mid-sized wagon with a high-body profile. You will have to slow down in tight turns, but the corner lean is moderate given the vehicle's height and weight. The turning radius is a bit on the wide side and the steering goes numb in odd places.
The kindest thing to say about the exterior is that it's conservative and subtle. Inside, however, drivers will find a stylish, well-equipped cabin that, while suffering from some low-quality materials, is, on a whole more than acceptable. There's a standard third row that gets the usual jabs for being fit for kids only. The middle and front seats are judged adequate. Standard features on the base include heated side mirrors, power seats for both the driver and passengers, an auxiliary audio jack, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. There's aren't any high tech options until you start upgrading. Then you can pick up things like a power moon roof, a nav unit, and a rear DVD entertainment system.
When all three rows are up, you get 8.3 cubic feet of storage; tight even for grocery bags. Take the third row down, and the room jumps to a more respectable 37.6 cubic feet. Fold the second row and the maximum available space is 74.4 cubic feet. Need tons of room? Go get a Chevy Traverse and tock out with 116.4. The Subaru Traverse is better than many when it comes to hauling capacity, but it's not best in class.
The federal government has not crash tested the 2011 Tribeca, but the 2010 model earned five stars for occupant protection in all positions for both front and side impacts and four for rollover, which is good for an SUV. Standard safety equipment includes vehicle dynamic control, traction control, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, and a full compliment of airbags.
The biggest fault with the 2011 Subaru Tribeca is the price compared to return on your buying dollars. The standard features are just too few and far between for the high sticker shock, and the performance too low. While arguably the AWD makes this a safer vehicle, consumers like choices and they like high fuel economy. They get neither in this department with the Tribeca. Overall, this is a competent mid-sized SUV, but there are better vehicles for the money.