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2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca

by Martha Hindes

Subaru B9 Tribeca
Subaru B9 Tribeca Interior

With apologies to Subaru, we're including its newest baby, the B9 Tribeca, in our Crossover Buyer's Guide. Subaru officials staunchly insist their new "progressive-type" flagship vehicle is a sport utility, which it is and a rather large one at that. But appearance-wise, the rest of the world seems to view it as multi-talented. And so we're adding it here.

For years, we've loved Subarus, for their tenacity, their somewhat quirky independence from sinuous contemporary, their hard-driving road racing heritage, and their unabashed owner body who swear nothing else will traverse dangerously icy roads with more authority. That was expected from the company that virtually introduced the concept of all-wheel-drive when no other vehicles had it.

This is different. Even at second glance, one would be hard pressed to know who had manufactured it, from its aircraft-inspired snub-nose and slightly cross-eyed frontal appearance to its sidewise flow and clipped off rear that in profile gives an almost other worldly appearance. This is Subaru in the 21st Century. Maybe the 22nd. That exterior look could take some getting used to by Subaru purists.

Inside it's sublime. A wraparound dash cuddles driver and passenger in separate, almost sportscar like cocoons. Natty sports gauges peer through the steering wheel, and comfort/audio controls seem to pour down the center stack from the dash-mounted nav system. Check the spec list and it's loaded with goodies, both low and high tech, that help explain a base price range of $30,695 to $37,695. Ambient footwell-lighting front and rear, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, power mirrors with integrated LED turn signals and heated defrost, windshield wiper de-icer, and 9-inch wide screen LCD pix for the seven passenger model.

At some point, consumers might be expected to ditch that strange "B9" label, part of the company's internal development code. That is unless the designation becomes part of the unique Subaru mystique from loyalists who already know "B" stands for the transverse-mounted 2.5-liter Boxer engine. If the name stays, it could become some kind of secret Subaru owners' code.