Subaru's characterful six-cylinder found in the top Legacy models is fitted to the Tribeca. It boasts 245bhp and decent pulling power but while it feels fine under most conditions, with maximum power found in the top half of the rev range the five-speed box often goes hunting for the right gear when faced with hills. It also has to often be forced to change down in order to get decent acceleration.
0-62mph takes 9.7 seconds, but in normal driving, the engine has to be worked hard and becomes noisy as a result. The Nissan Murano with its CVT gearbox and a little extra pulling power available lower down feels much livelier than the Subaru. The Tribeca's engine is also very thirsty, averaging a woeful 23mpg while emissions of 291g/km of CO2 make it expensive to tax.
Over-light steering aside, the Tribeca feels surefooted on the road with well controlled body roll and high levels of grip thanks to a low centre of gravity provided by Subaru's unique engine and transmission layout. It also helps the 4x4's ground clearance, although the Tribeca does without much of the hardware needed to venture off road anywhere more challenging than a gravel track.
The Tribeca rides smoothly and is happiest when cruising along the motorway. Tests in North America have shown the Tribeca is hardly more likely to roll in an emergency manoeuvre than a regular saloon car.
The Tribeca's modern interior design is appealing with sweeping curves from the dashboard to the centre console. The main dials are cowled and for the driver's eyes only. The switches and controls seem worthy of an upmarket car (which Tribeca is supposed to be), but the basketball texture of the top of the dashboard in hard plastic is rather out of place.
The steering is only adjustable for height - which is very poor on a car of this size and price - but otherwise the interior is a comfortable place to be.
Inside the Tribeca occupants are shielded from most of the harshness of the elements and the outside world. Wind noise and road noise are subdued, even at high speed and the engine is refined at sedate speeds. However, it can become noisy when revved. Automatic climate control is fitted as standard, as well as electric windows. The second row of seats is adjustable (sliding or reclining with a 60/40 split) allowing generous leg room with little impact on the luggage space of five-seat models.
Passengers in the (optional) third row of seats aren't quite treated as well as those in a Volvo XC90 or Land Rover Discovery 3. There's no tiered seating, but with the adjustment offered with the second row of seats, a decent compromise of space for passengers can be found.