To say the B9 Tribeca wasn't quite the sales champ that Subaru had hoped is an understatement. Last year, Subaru managed to sell 18,000 Tribecas, when estimates were at 36,000. Nevertheless, we ordered one up to serve a year for our Four-Seasons Test, and although it was a pleasant enough vehicle, there were a few concerns: mainly, lack of power, and interesting styling. Okay, ugly styling. Apparently, people felt the same way we did, resulting in the flaccid sales numbers.
So a redesign was scheduled, addressing the major weak points. In place of the old 3.0-liter flat six, the Tribeca now gets a 3.6-liter motor. At 254 hp, it makes only marginally more power (the old one developed 245) but much more torque: 247 lb-ft (up from 215). At the same time, the new motor returns 10 percent better fuel economy and runs on regular fuel instead of premium.
Looks-wise, Subaru has abandoned the aeronautical theme to give the car more of a mainstream look, in line with the rest of Subaru's lineup. The aircraft fuselage and wings grille motif is gone, replaced by a much more conventional large grille with horizontal bars topped by the Subaru logo. Triangular, swept-back headlights are replaced by wider, narrower units. The overall effect reminds one of a Chrysler Pacifica: not special, but handsome.
Inside, 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.
The new model can be seen alongside the new Impreza, just blocks from the neighborhood it was named after, at the New York International Auto Show. Don't look for B9 to appear before Tribeca in the name though - the alphanumeric portion of the name has been dropped.