2008 Subaru Tribeca


2008 Subaru Tribeca Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2008 Subaru Tribeca was new.


Interior: 7.2

The Tribeca seats five in two spacious rows, or seven with an optional third row. With plenty of cargo space and a stylish, practical layout, the cabin earns high marks from most reviewers. As the Detroit News puts it, "Inside, Subaru has done a terrific job of merging efficiency and form."

MSN writes, "The Tribeca interior is very modern, yet very functional with upscale materials and excellent ergonomics." While the Tribeca has been revamped outside and under the hood for 2008, its interior has not undergone major changes, and reviewers deem this a good thing. Consumer Guide says the Tribeca "retains its attractively sculpted interior shapes and the ability to seat up to seven." Edmunds says the interior "remains a high point," calling it "fairly luxurious."

The Kansas City Star argues, "If the Tribeca grabs you with its exterior, it keeps you with its interior," noting its "sculpted and flowing dash" that "looks like something from a concept car." BusinessWeek says the dash "is sculpted and curves around into the doors and center console, giving the front seats a cockpit feel," yet results in a cabin that is "still functional." Kelley Blue Book notes the interior's "excellent fit and finish" and "appealing materials."


The Tribeca seats five adults, or seven when equipped with an optional third-row seat -- at least in theory. Kelley Blue Book argues, "If you need room for seven adults, the Tribeca's child-sized third-row seat falls short." Edmunds reports that "Subaru has gone to some lengths to make the Tribeca a right-size vehicle, so it lets you make a choice about the kind of interior function you want," and notes, "Skip the third row and you'll save a thousand bucks." While the interior is largely unchanged from 2007, reviewers do point out one positive development in regard to third-row accessibility. USA Today reports, "At least now both sides of the second row tilt and slide to open what Subie says is a bigger aisle to the rear."

For the most part, reviewers like the front seats in the Tribeca. "The front bucket seats," reports the Kansas City Star, "look great and fit well." The Chicago Sun-Times, however, thinks the "front seats could use more side support when the Tribeca is snaking through curves." BusinessWeek says that "a tall or heavyset person might feel cramped" up front, while noting, "But I'm 5 ft. 10 in. tall and I had plenty of leg, shoulder, and head space in the front seats."

Reviewers note that the second row is more spacious when not sandwiched between the front and the optional third row. TechnoFile points out, "Second row passengers lose some legroom when you're bringing the rear seats online," but advises, "If you leave the third row flat when not required you'll find there's plenty of room in the front two rows." BusinessWeek says, however, "With the driver's seat set for my height, I could actually sit comfortably in both the second- and third-row seats," explaining, "There are indentations in the headliner in both rows of seats, creating a little extra head space even in models equipped with a sunroof."

The third row is easy to reach, if not easy to sit in. Automobile Magazine writes: "You can access the third-row seat from both sides of the vehicle. Previously, you could only fold down the right-side second-row seat to access the way-back. It's still really tight in the back, but at least now you can get out of it a bit more quickly after your cramped ride back there." USA Today agrees that the "optional way-back row is tight" and guesses, "you won't use it a lot." Edmunds deems the third row "strictly for kids."

Interior Features

On Tribeca's dash, reports the Detroit News, "The control buttons have been simplified to the point of near non-existence. But once you identify the function of each button, the system becomes fairly intuitive." The Chicago Sun-Times says, "Climate controls are large," but notes "it took too long to use the audio controls." As for features, MSN says that "even the Base trim level is well-equipped with a good amount of comfort, convenience and safety items." These include power locks and windows; climate control; a stereo system with CD player and MP3 compatibility, and, in models with a third row, rear air conditioning. The Limited trim adds a number of features, including an upgraded stereo, leather seats and a moonroof. Seven-passenger models can be fitted with a rear DVD entertainment system. As for the stereo, CNET claims it "showed some promise at first, but we uncovered a few things we didn't like about it," complaining, "oddly enough, the stereo wouldn't display ID3 tagging information from our MP3 tracks, even though it had a nice LCD on which to do so."


A navigation system is optional on the Tribeca. Several reviewers report problems with the dashboard navigation screen, mainly concerning its placement, which necessitates a reach to enter touch commands. Regarding its functionality, CNET likes "the ease with which it let us set up complex routes," but says, "the navigation system doesn't make it easy to find points-of-interest, and canceling route guidance could be easier." The Detroit News points out that the navigation screen "can double as a display for the backing camera, which activates whenever you shift into reverse," and reports, "The video image is one of the sharpest I've seen and is shielded from solar glare."


With all seats up, the five-passenger version of the Tribeca offers 37.6 cubic feet of cargo room, while the seven-passenger version offers just 8.3 cubic feet. With rear seats down, however, both offer 74.4 cubic feet of room. Second-row seats can also be folded in a 60/40 split. As for access, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, "The hatch can be easily closed with the help of twin indented interior pull-down areas," while "the cargo opening is low and wide." Interior storage includes storage pockets in the doors and a covered console bin. BusinessWeek writes, "There are handy cupholders sculpted into the vehicle's sides for occupants of the third-row seats."

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