What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster? No, it’s the Subaru B9 Tribeca.
Subaru doesn’t do Halloween fancy dress costumes, but if it did, they would look something like the B9 Tribeca. It’s got a face only a mother could love. It’s a shoo-in for those lazy OMG! CHECK OUT THESE HIDEOUS UGLY CARS lists you see on the internet.
Fair enough. The Subaru B9 Tribeca deserves its place on the wall of shame. However, its biggest crime isn’t the ugly snout – at least Subaru bothered with that. No, the B9 Tribeca’s worst attribute is its bland anonymity. In common with many SUVs of the era, it’s not ageing well.
Even the name is a little odd. The ‘B’ in B9 stands for ‘boxer’, as in the engine, while ‘9’ is its platform designation. Sensibly, Subaru ditched the B9 part of the name for the facelift – not that the UK saw the revamped model. More on this in a moment.
Tribeca – ‘Triangle Below Canal Street’ – is a hip, happening and trendy neighbourhood in New York City. The kind of place where hip, happening and trendy people drink expensive lattes and live in converted warehouses.
In other words, it’s a long way from Subaru’s traditional heartland of gravel tracks, green lanes and snowy mountain passes. Fair play to Subaru for being upfront and honest. Cliché alert: the B9 Tribeca is a car designed for the urban jungle, not the actual jungle.
About that snout. Subaru claimed the ‘spread-wing’ design was a nod to its aeronautical heritage. In isolation, the fuselage and wings look rather neat. But overall, the B9 Tribeca looks like it should be kept in isolation. Solitary confinement is the only way to keep the public safe from this menace.
However, this is It’s Time to Appreciate, where PetrolBlog celebrates the left-field and champions the cause of the underdog. I’m not going to pretend that time has softened the impact of ‘aerosnout’, but the Subaru B9 Tribeca is appealing for other reasons.
The interior is award-winning, don’tyaknow. It finished top dog in the premium-priced CUV category at the 2006 Wards Auto Interior of the Year awards. Still want that Volvo XC90?
Sure, there’s evidence of ‘some hard plastics’, but the curved dashboard design, electro-luminescent dials, neat climate control knobs with individual read-outs and the illuminated cupholders are stylish touches. Because it’s a Subaru, you know that the wraparound interior will be as good today as it was in 2006.
The Subaru B9 Tribeca SE5 came with five seats as standard, but a third row of two forward-facing seats were part of the SE7 package. This also included a DVD rear-seat entertainment system and rear air conditioning. Still want that BMW X5?
Then there’s the engine, which is a 3.0-litre flat-six lifted from the Subaru Legacy 3.0R Spec B. Talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Or should that be lamb dressed as mutton? This four-wheel drive SUV is powered by a boxer six producing 245hp. A zero to 60mph time of 9.3 seconds isn’t too shabby for an SUV weighing as much as a New York loft.
It’s just a shame that it’s hamstrung by a five-speed automatic transmission and CO2 emissions that make it cripplingly expensive to tax. That said, the Subaru B9 Tribeca is far from expensive to buy. Prices range from £3,000 to £5,000, depending on the mileage and spec. You’ll pay more for a seven-seater.
The UK wasn’t convinced. History will recall that, despite having a database of 1,200 interested customers, Subaru failed to tempt would-be B9 Tribeca buyers away from the XC90 and X5. Even donating five SUVs to be used as support vehicles for the Vulcan bomber stopped the B9 Tribeca from, well… bombing.
Officially, the Subaru B9 Tribeca was dead by 2007, although registrations continued into 2008 and 2009, as Subaru struggled to shift stock of the £32,000 to £34,000 SUV. The more handsome facelifted Tribeca didn’t make it to these shores.
If you can live with the thirst and £580 annual tax bill, the Subaru B9 Tribeca is an interesting, if not exactly attractive, alternative to a European SUV of a similar vintage. Think of it as a Legacy 3.0R Spec B in an SUV suit, and it’s easier to gloss over the challenging styling. Still want that Nissan Murano?