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First look: Subaru’s big new SUV

Imposing: B9 previews a bold new styling statement for future Subaru SUVs.

Subaru presents its first-ever seven-seater off-roader at Detroit

20 Jan 2005

WE saw the teaser sketch in November, now Subaru has unveiled its next-generation seven-seater sports utility in the metal at Detroit last week.

Officially named the 2006 B9 Tribeca, Subaru’s first seven-seater SUV will be produced at Subaru’s Lafayette plant in Indiana from August 2005 before going on sale in the US, Canada and Chile.

It will be positioned above Forester and Outback in the Japanese brand’s US line-up – and will also form the basis of a joint-venture Saab SUV expected to be called 9-6X, which will receive Saab interior and exterior styling in the latest “Saabaru” product-sharing program - but is yet to be confirmed for right-hand drive production.

As such, Subaru Australia is also investigating a separate, more car-like cross-over wagon being developed in Japan.

Presenting a bold new corporate face for future Subaru SUVs, Tribeca’s dominant design feature is a new grille that extends onto the bonnet via a full-length bulge and is flanked by large front air intakes said to symbolise Subaru’s history as an aircraft manufacturer.

New headlights incorporate a series of cylindrical bulb housings, while a distinct rear-shoulder J-curve and substantial wheel-arch flares (with only subtle plastic cladding) complete the chunky new look.

Inside, a twin-cockpit design echoes the grille treatment with an interior design that’s dominated by a centre console and seven-inch touch-screen but is claimed to maintain function over form by featuring large electroluminescent instruments and ergonomically-correct switchgear.

2 center image Neat touches include ambient lighting to illuminate the footwells, centre console and cup-holders at night, while an optional rear-seat entertainment system consists of a nine-inch screen with DVD player and auxiliary video game and camcorder feed capability.

Also optional is the third-row seating, which features a 50/50-split twin seat that folds flat. The second-row seat – with a bench that’s split 60/40 and a seatback that’s split 40/20/40 – also folds flat and slides 200mm fore/aft.

Two wireless headsets and a remote control are standard - as is rear-seat air-conditioning.

The all-new large SUV employs a 186kW/296Nm 3.0-litre flat six and standard five-speed auto with Sportshift manual mode to motivate its Subaru all-wheel drive system and 18 x 8.0-inch alloy wheels, which are suspended by coil spring-struts up front and an all-new double wishbone rear suspension.

The monocoque construction is claimed to be a full 50 per cent stronger in torsional rigidity than Outback, features an under-floor spare wheel, has a towing capacity of 907kg and is available with an accessory 1587kg tow pack.

Standard safety features include occupant sensing, dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and standard side-curtain air bags.

A tyre-pressure monitoring system is standard on all models, as is four-channel ABS with EBD and VDC stability control.

Vital statistics include a 2749mm wheelbase, 4822mm length, 1978mm width, 1686mm height and ground clearance of a commendable 213mm. Kerb weight is a relatively spritely 1925kg in seven-seat guise but fuel capacity is a puny 64 litres.

Other standard features include a power tilt/sliding glass sunroof, heated front seats, door-sensing security system, 100-watt AM/FM audio with MP3-compatible single-disc in-dash CD player and six speakers, remote central locking, 10 cup-holders, front foglights and heated power mirrors.

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