2012 Subaru Tribeca Performance Review

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


Performance: 7.2

The Subaru Tribeca delivers performance that doesn’t stand out in its class. While standard all-wheel drive is a plus, reviewers wish for sportier handling. Plus, the Tribeca’s fuel economy isn’t very good. While some reviewers say the engine’s power is adequate, others think the engine sounds unrefined and strained.

  • "From behind the steering wheel, the 2012 Subaru Tribeca feels competent, maneuverable and easy to drive, with the light-effort steering enhancing an overall feeling of nimbleness.” -- Edmunds
  • "Despite its pathetic fuel economy and lack of marketing attention, the Tribeca is reasonably good to drive. There's adequate power, decent body control, and a comfortable ride.” -- Automobile Magazine
  • "This three-row SUV isn't built on a truck platform, and it has a reasonably carlike feel. It's comfortable, rides well, and the six-cylinder engine provides good power. It's not much fun to drive, but it competes in a dull segment.” -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The Subaru Tribeca comes with a 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer engine that makes 256 horsepower. Reviewers say the engine feels like it has good acceleration and enough power for most drivers, though most note that it is loud and strained under full throttle. The Tribeca’s standard five-speed automatic transmission also offers a manual shift function that most testers appreciate.

Fuel economy, however, isn’t great. According to the EPA, the Tribeca gets 16/21 mpg city/highway. Most other crossover SUVs with six-cylinder engines and four- or all-wheel drive get better fuel economy.

  • "The engine works hard, but it revs smoothly and delivers decent power.” -- Car and Driver
  • "Tribeca's engine provides enough power for most situations, though some testers want more low-end punch. The transmission is a bit tardy to kick down for more power, but the driver can partially compensate with the manual shift gate.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Subaru Tribeca comes standard with all-wheel drive, which is unusual for the class. Many testers write that it doesn’t make the Tribeca a joy to drive, although it does improve off-road ability and foul-weather capabilities. Most reviewers say the Tribeca’s ride is smooth but that its body lean and tippy cornering are more similar to a larger and softer-handling minivan than to other sportier SUVs. Test drivers say braking performance is fine, though some complain about the soft-feeling pedal.

  • "The suspension soaks up both big bumps and small pavement imperfections nicely.” -- Edmunds
  • "The handling is responsive, and the steering firm and linear. Driving into sharp curves yields some mild body lean, but overall it's evident that the low center of gravity of its unique drivetrain enhances stability and confidence.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Handling response is more minivan than high-body midsize wagon. Tight turns require slowing down more than you might think, but cornering lean is moderate for this vehicle's height and weight. Steering is responsive if a bit numb, and Tribeca has a wide turning radius for its size. Brakes have adequate stopping control, but pedal action is somewhat spongy and non-linear.” -- Consumer Guide

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