Introduced just three years ago as the B9 Tribeca, this new iteration is completely reworked inside and out. While all the sheetmetal sans the roof has been changed, the most noticeable modification is at the front: The unique three-grille nose is replaced by a front fascia featuring a chrome "spread-wing" design many judges found less attractive than the original, with less personality. The other significant change is under the hood. Subaru has bumped displacement from 3.0 to 3.6 liters, adding six horsepower and a noticeable 32 pound-feet of torque, while switching from a premium-fueled motor to a 3.6-liter, 256-horse regular-fueled one.
The interior remains relatively unchanged visually, but Subaru has added a few functions to better manage second-row ingress/egress than in the previous-gen version. The second-row seat now has a tilt-and-slide feature on both sides, along with a new assist spring that reduces effort in sliding the second row. New grab handles on the lower C-pillar further ease entry to the third row. The front seats feel significantly firmer, a case of sitting on them, not in them, and the second row suggests sitting on a park bench with a backrest. Even with the increase in length (from 189.8 to 191.5), the third row is still tight, useable by only the smallest of passengers.
On-road manners are much better than before. Body roll is noticeably reduced while preserving a relatively smooth ride. You can have fun through mountain roads, but the initial set on turn-in feels delayed, sometimes causing you to dial in more steering then quickly needing to dial it back out once the car starts rolling through the corner. While the new engine and transmission work nicely, the Tribeca's weight caused the engine to struggle uphill.
Is its improved persona enough for it to garner the title?
VIDEO: THE 2008 SUBARU TRIBECA AT THE SUOTY
PHOTOS: EXCLUSIVE 2008 SUBARU TRIBECA PHOTO GALLERY