2012 Subaru Tribeca Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 Subaru Tribeca was new.


Interior: 7.0

Most reviewers say that the Subaru Tribeca’s cabin is well-equipped and stylish, but many complain about its cramped third-row seats. Most appreciate the curvy dash design, but a few say that it puts some controls too far away to reach easily. The Tribeca also doesn’t have as much cargo space as most three-row competitors, so shoppers who intend to haul a lot of stuff should look elsewhere.

  • "We applaud the ample distribution of cup holders and wide front seats, which also feature adjustable lumbar support for both driver and passenger.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Another issue is size, as what once was just about right for five passengers hasn't been improved by the addition of a small, cramped third-row seat.” -- Edmunds
  • "The expressive dashboard is formed from materials that look nice enough, but too many are hard plastic and lack the richness of those found in top competitors.” -- Consumer Guide


The Tribeca has standard seating for seven. Although most three-row crossovers’ third rows are too cramped for adults, reviewers say the Tribeca’s rear row is especially tiny. However, reviewers say the first- and second-row seats are adequately comfortable and roomy.

The Tribeca’s standard front seats are heated and power adjustable, though leather upholstery and two-position driver’s seat memory are available. A few test drivers complain that the lack of a telescoping steering wheel makes it hard to adjust the driver’s seat to a comfortable position.

  • "Comfortable, supportive seats provide adult-size room, but long-legged drivers may want more rearward seat travel. A telescopic steering wheel would help, but Tribeca doesn't offer one.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The second-row seats aren't exactly spacious, but they do incorporate the ability to slide fore-and-aft so you can increase rear-seat legroom or cargo capacity depending on your priorities. The third-row seat is clearly an afterthought in this package, and it's really meant only for occasional use (just like third-row seats everywhere, really). The third row is particularly hard to get to, though.” -- Edmunds
  • "If you need room for seven adults, the Tribeca's child-sized third-row seating falls short, and the Tribeca's side-curtain airbags do not extend to protect the third-row passengers.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Interior Features

Some reviewers note that the Tribeca’s controls are intuitive and easy to use, while others think the dash’s stylish design makes some buttons hard for the driver to reach. One reviewer says that the navigation system is easy to use, however. The base model doesn’t offer many options, but comes standard with features like a six-speaker stereo, CD player, steering-wheel mounted controls, dual-zone automatic climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. That’s a lot of standard equipment for the class. Options bring the Tribeca to a near-luxury level, with features like a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, a power moonroof, navigation and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

  • "Is there anything positive to say? Well, yes: the interior ergonomics are excellent; temperature, fan settings, radio dials, etc., all are easy to operate." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "This is a stylish interior, far from the generic space that you might expect." -- Edmunds
  • "The wave-shaped dashboard visually delights, but its severe curve places some radio and heating controls at odd angles from the driver." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Main gauges are large and legible, but flanking fuel and temp dials are harder to see. Audio and climate controls are mostly easy to use and none are absorbed by the optional navigation system--a plus. The buttons can be confusing, and the display screen can wash out in some lighting conditions. Navigation controls are intuitive but may be a long reach for some." -- Consumer Guide


With all three rows of seats in use, the Tribeca provides just 8.3 cubic feet of storage space. Though most three-row SUVs don’t offer much space behind the third row, the Tribeca’s number is unusually low. With the third row folded down, space expands to 37.6 cubic feet, which is more respectable. With both the second and third rows folded down, maximum cargo space is 74.3 cubic feet. That’s not bad when compared with two-row midsize SUVs, but most three-row crossovers offer more space than that.

One benefit is that the Tribeca’s third row folds flat, which is a feature many competitors don’t offer. However, reviewers are disappointed with the Tribeca’s lack of small-item storage.

  • "Space behind the 2nd row is ample, but only a few grocery bags fit behind raised 3rd-row seats, which fold flush into the floor. Cabin storage is OK, but less generous than it appears. Note that in one test Tribeca, the floor storage lids fit poorly and were prone to rattling once underway.” -- Consumer Guide

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