2012 Subaru Tribeca Review
The 2012 Subaru Tribeca comes with plenty of standard features for an affordable midsize SUV, but most rivals offer better fuel economy, more comfortable third-row seats, a lower starting price, a larger cargo area and better performance.
All in all, many test drivers say that the 2012 Subaru Tribeca isn’t significantly worse than most other three-row crossovers in its class. However, in a segment crowded with outstanding entries, “not bad” may not be good enough for many shoppers. Test drivers mention that the Tribeca’s third-row seats are tight and difficult to access, even in a class where they often complain about limited space in the third row. Automotive journalists also say that the Tribeca’s handling is more reminiscent of a minivan than a car-like crossover, and that its engine, though adequately powered, sounds loud and strained. One of the Tribeca’s most common test driver complaints is its disappointing fuel economy. It’s only one mpg better in the city than a four-wheel drive, V8-powered Chevrolet Suburban.
Test drivers do mention a few redeeming qualities. In addition to having standard all-wheel drive, the Tribeca comes with upscale features like heated, power front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Reviewers say the Tribeca’s cabin is well-designed, for the most part, and most write that its ride is smooth and controlled. However, these characteristics weren’t enough to win over most reviewers. Many test drivers conclude that while the Tribeca doesn’t fail in any respect, rivals are much better options due to their performance, fuel economy, interior space and lower price point.
Other SUVs to Consider
The 2012 Buick Enclave’s standard features are comparable to the Tribeca’s, but it has slightly higher fuel economy ratings, even with all-wheel drive, and reviewers say its engine is quiet and capable. One of the Enclave’s strongest selling points is its interior. Testers write that the Enclave’s cabin is beautifully designed and very quiet. It also has a lot of cargo room and a spacious third row.
The 2012 Toyota Highlander, with its standard four-cylinder engine, nets an impressive 20/25 mpg city/highway, though that powerplant is only available with two-wheel drive. The Highlander doesn’t offer nearly as many standard features as the Tribeca, but its lower starting price, better gas mileage and larger cargo hold make it more appealing than the Tribeca.
Subaru Tribeca: The Details
The 2012 Subaru Tribeca is available in three trims: Premium, Limited and Touring. All come standard with seating for seven, a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, a five-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Besides redesigned head restraints, the Tribeca doesn’t see major changes for the 2012 model year.
- "First-time Subaru buyers will find the Tribeca's good fuel economy, confident handling, strong resale and proven reliability very inviting.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- “Although there is nothing the Tribeca does poorly, there is not much that it does particularly well.” -- Automobile Magazine
- "Subaru's crossover SUV is pleasant to drive and includes many standard features. It's not an especially quiet vehicle, though, and its interior design and materials may turn off shoppers. Comparably equipped, many of Tribeca's rivals are roomier, quieter, more refined, more fuel efficient, and similarly priced.” -- Consumer Guide
- "There really isn't anything wrong with this midsize crossover, but it never quite cuts through the clutter of competitors. The 2012 Subaru Tribeca excels at very little, which is tough when competing against other family crossovers that are newer, more spacious, better to drive and boast more features.” -- Edmunds