Subaru's Legacy Outback kicked off the modern practice of combining a conventional station wagon with the raised-ride-height look of an SUV. (The key word here is modern; we haven't forgotten about the AMC Eagle.) The Outback has been successful thanks to interior space that equals that of many small SUVs and performance that marries decent fuel economy with the security of all-wheel drive. But while the Outback fulfilled the needs of a large number of buyers, Subaru still saw an SUV-size hole in its lineup, one that has been filled by the all-new B9 Tribeca. As fans of the Subaru brand, we were curious to see how the company's largest and most expensive vehicle to date would perform over a year, and so we quickly ordered one of the pug-nosed people haulers. We specified our seven-passenger, titanium silver Tribeca Limited pretty much fully loaded by opting for touch-screen navigation and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. With the trailer hitch package--essential for bike racks and helpful for the occasional light (up to 3500 pounds) towing job--and a few other small options, the final price on our Tribeca came to a hefty $39,661. Thus far, comments about the vehicle have been positive, and Subaru's controversial new styling direction has barely been mentioned. With winter looming, the B9 will likely see plenty of use, thanks to its standard all-wheel-drive system combined with electronic stability control. Finally, we hope the 250-hp, 3.0-liter boxer six provides a happy balance between power and fuel economy.
11,585 miles We sheepishly discover that our comments about a lack of second-row legroom were unjustified when we find the orange lever that allows the middle row to slide past a stop in the seats' travel meant to protect third-row occupants from having their legs crushed.
12,011 miles The Subaru's all-wheel drive, stability control system, and heated seats--not to mention a set of Pirelli winter tires--make it a pleasant winter companion.
17,456 miles Assistant editor Sam Smith discovers a few annoyances in the cabin: "The seats are uncomfortable, with lumbar support in the wrong place. Also, the touch-screen navigation system is too far away. And why is the HVAC system always blowing air in your face?"
17,968 miles "This is a user-friendly cabin," counters art director Molly Jean. "The wraparound dash reminds me of Subaru's own SVX. And, unlike some others, I don't find the exterior ugly."