THE RIDE: Four-door, seven-passenger 2008 Subaru Tribeca Limited midsize crossover SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: After debuting two years ago, the Tribeca acquires a restyling. It drops the B9 prefix from its name, bumps up from 3.0 to a 3.6-liter engine, and gains 11 horsepower and 32 pounds-feet of torque. Sitting on a unitized body structure, the SUV offers a graceful, enjoyable and energetic ride and handling that partly can be attributed to a fine all-wheel-drive system.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: Available in four trims, the Tribeca offers 256 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 247 pounds-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. New for 2008 is variable valve timing for intake and exhaust camshafts, as well as regular fuel instead of the previous recommended premium fuel. The 3.6-liter, 6-cylinder horizontally opposed engine is mated to a slick-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission, which also can be manually shifted. The four-wheel independent suspension is made up of a Macpherson-type strut front and a double-wishbone rear. Tow capacity is 3,500 pounds if you need to haul a small watercraft. Feedback from the brake pedal is good, thanks to a 12.3-inch ventilated disc in front and 12.4 inches in the rear.
LOOK & FEEL: Out with the awkward and in with a traditional grille, now integrated into the front bumper showing off a chrome spread-wing look and the Subaru star cluster centered above it. Also getting a facelift are the four-beam halogen projector-type headlights and 18-inch wheels with a dual five-spoke design. The sculpted, flowing dashboard and center console almost give you the feeling of occupying a plane cockpit instead of a car cabin. The round electroluminescent gauges for tachometer and speedometer are attractive and easy to read. The digital and dual automatic climate control knobs are eye-pleasing, especially at night. Convenience is the key here, as in standard eight-way power driver and four-way passenger seats, tilt steering column, 40/20/40-split second-row seat and a power tilt-up moon roof.
SAFETY FIRST: Standard features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake distribution, rollover sensor, active front-seat head restraints, vehicle dynamic control, front and rear crumple zones, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
OUT THE DOOR: $33,595, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P255/55 R18; wheelbase, 108.2 inches; length, 191.5 inches; weight, 4,250 pounds; fuel capacity, 16.9 gallons; highway, 21 mpg; city, 16 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: Credit goes to Subaru for boosting the horsepower, torque and engine size of the Tribeca in its two years of its debut. The exterior look is now more mainstream though the cabin shines in its appearance and convenience features. Best of all is the standard all-wheel-drive system, which ensures a strong grip and immediate response under untoward weather or road conditions.