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Subaru is a reliable and respected automaker, but not all its vehicles hit the mark. For example, the Subaru Baja arguably failed as a truck. Still, it has fans for its performance and dependability. On the other hand, the now-defunct Subaru Tribeca failed to do almost anything right. Here’s a brief history of this midsize SUV and a look at several Subaru Tribeca problems that led to its retirement and replacement by the Ascent.

The Subaru Tribeca was the brand’s first 7-seat SUV

The Subaru Tribeca debuted for the 2005 model year and retired after 2014. It was the Japanese automaker’s first seven-seat SUV, packing a 3.0-liter boxer engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive was standard on all trims, autoevolution reports.

Subaru Tribeca
2013 Subaru Tribeca | Subaru

Starting with the 2007 model year, the second-generation Subaru Tribeca received a more potent boxer engine making 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. U.S. News reviewers praised the new engine’s power delivery, torque output, and acceleration. Also that year, the base model received a slew of fresh features, including an MP3 audio jack and leather seats with heating.

What Subaru Tribeca problems contributed to its failure?

Here are six reasons why the Subaru Tribeca was a failure:

1. Cramped third row

Despite the fact that the Subaru Tribeca offered three rows, the rear row wasn’t highly functional. It was too cramped to hold adults comfortably, U.S. News reports.

2. Subpar cargo space

In addition, the third row left little cargo space behind it. The Tribeca provided only 8 cubic feet of storage with every seat in use and about 38 cubic feet without the optional third row.

3. Poor driver comfort

In addition, drivers couldn’t get very comfortable because the vehicle lacked a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Plus, the seats weren’t highly adjustable.

4. Low towing capacity

Furthermore, Torque News points out the Subaru Tribeca’s new engine allowed it to tow only 2,000 pounds.

5. Awful gas mileage

It also got horrible fuel economy, with an estimated 18 mpg combined city/highway. 

6. Unappealing design

Some Tribeca model years were downright ugly, while others were simply mediocre. 

Is the Subaru Ascent a good replacement?

The Subaru Ascent is a relatively new SUV, but it improves considerably on what the Tribeca offered. Under the hood is a turbocharged engine harnessing 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, with a peak twist output of 2,000 to 4,800 rpm. Although the Ascent also comes with standard AWD, it’s still more efficient than the Tribeca.

The 2022 Subaru Ascent gets 23 mpg combined and an impressive 27 mpg on the highway. It’s also better equipped for off-roading thanks to its intelligent X-mode traction control system. Hill descent control is standard on all models, and this SUV has approximately 8.7 inches of ground clearance. 

Additionally, the Ascent benefits from Active Torque Vectoring. Subaru didn’t begin adding this feature to most SUVs until the 2017 model year. It prevents torque steer and improves the SUV’s handling via braking pressure/power distribution to the front wheels. 

The Subaru Ascent’s third row still isn’t the most spacious, but about 32 inches of legroom should suit most adults on shorter trips. The second row offers almost 39 inches of legroom, and front riders get over 42 inches. Drivers can also enjoy a tilt-and-telescoping steering column.

Cargo capacity behind the third row is about 18 cubic feet, and a hidden storage compartment holds smaller items. Folding down the third row opens up nearly 30 additional cubic feet of cargo space. The Subaru Ascent provides a maximum of 86 cubic feet of cargo room and boasts a 5,000-pound towing capacity. 

While leather seats are reserved for the Limited and Touring trims, every Subaru Ascent comes with smartphone integration and plenty of advanced safety features. Although the Subaru Tribeca may have served some drivers well during its time, the Ascent is a better SUV overall.


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