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Subaru Tribeca Had 5 Major Problems; New Ascent Fixed Them

Subaru Corp fixed five Tribeca problem areas with the all-new 2019 Ascent family hauler. Here are the five areas where Tribeca failed.


Subaru had big problems with the Tribeca SUV and they fixed it. They axed the vehicle and started over. Tribeca had cramped third-row seating, limited cargo capacity, it had an aging design, poor fuel mileage, and it could only tow up to 2000 lbs. The Japanese automaker couldn’t compete in the competitive 3-Row segment with the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Nissan Pathfinder, Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot. Tribeca’s five problems have been addressed with the all-new 2019 Ascent 3-Row family hauler.

Edmunds just released their 10 notable new cars list for 2019, and they say the new Subaru Ascent is an excellent choice for families. It checks all the right boxes that the discontinued Tribeca did not. Ascent comes with seating for up to eight, a bigger cargo space, it comes with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and standard all-wheel-drive giving the 3-Row vehicle the same “go-anywhere” off-road capabilities as the Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek stablemates.

The fuel mileage issue

The discontinued Tribeca SUV was powered by a 3.6-liter 6 cylinder boxer engine that was aging, and got an EPA-estimated 16/21 city/highway mpg and 18 combined mpg. The new Ascent gets the brand’s new FA24 Boxer powerplant with the latest direct injection and other internal upgrades for the best power and towing vs fuel efficiency.

Subaru addressed fuel mileage with their new 3-Row Ascent. The Ascent 2.4-liter twin turbo four cylinder is their new-generation boxer engine developed specifically for this vehicle that’s built at Subaru’s U.S. factory in Lafayette, Indiana. It gets an EPA estimated 21/27 city/highway mpg and 23 combined mpg. The new 2.4-liter boxer engine offers drivability, power and fuel economy equal to or better than that of the competition’s 6-cylinder engines.

The towing issue

The most important spec is not the 260-horsepower at 5,600 rpm the new FA24 engine develops, it’s the broad peak torque band of 277 lb-ft between 2,000 and 4,800 rpm. This is what will get the new 2019 Ascent moving from a start, power it at altitude up steep mountain passes, and it will allow the largest vehicle Subaru has ever built to tow up to 5,000 lbs vs 2000 lbs for Tribeca.

Subaru addressed five problems they had with the aging Tribeca. The 2019 Subaru Ascent checks five boxes that the discontinued Tribeca did not.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Ed B (not verified)    September 11, 2018 - 9:42AM

You're correct Denis, good points. However, those were pretty obvious fixes to make and considering Subaru was out of the big SUV market for quite some time, they had plenty of time to size up their competition and use Honda, Toyota and Mazda as benchmarks. I just hope they don't rest on their laurels and actually make incremental improvements to the next gen Ascents. Granted, this is the first year of production. However, they should have provided sport mode options like the Forester and exterior styling could have been a tad more attractive. I'm also curious as to why they didn't include their new facial recognition technology - which for the price of the Limited option should have been standard. I'll test drive in the coming year before I draw any conclusions. I've read all the reviews and it's time to get behind the wheel and test drive one myself.

Ed B (not verified)    September 12, 2018 - 5:31PM

I concur, but the fixes were blatantly obvious and relatively easy to do. They simply benchmarked Toyota, Honda and Mazda. In addition, they were out of the market segment long enough to see what was out there. I just wished they would have done a bit more on the exterior styling and added drive selection modes like the Forester. Hopefully, next gens get subtle enhancements. I'm curious as to why DriverFocus wasn't added to the top of the line Ascent. You would think distracted driving would be an issue hauling a family and all the activity that occurs in a cabin loaded with kids.

Housseina Himou (not verified)    October 4, 2023 - 12:33PM

In reply to by Mark sayre (not verified)

Fixing the car has cost me in 3 years more than the purchasing price. The car has axing problems oil temperature problems leaking problems etc… I love the car but I regret having it. At this very moment I’m writing to you guys the car is at a repair shop

andy breuker (not verified)    April 17, 2021 - 9:29AM

In reply to by Cyndi (not verified)

HI, I saw your comment from 2020 about issues with your 2008 Tribeca. Own a 2008 and have had it two plus years. 253,000 miles now but had 237,000 when I bought it. Only have had to put a new alternator (right after (when I bought it in mid 2008 (was original).

Curious what issues specifically you have had? thank you, Andy Breuker

Dee (not verified)    November 21, 2021 - 3:29PM

In reply to by Boris Moreno (not verified)

Hi, I have a 2006 Tribeca recently purchased from a small dealership in August. My temp keeps rising, car won’t stop shaking and the harness and spark plugs have already been replaced. I’m now going to try and find the thermostat and radiator fix but I’m a woman with little knowledge & just don’t know what I should do... any advice?

Michelle (not verified)    March 9, 2021 - 1:03PM

I have a 2006 Tribeca, I've kept him maintained. I bought him in Dec of 2006 and as of 2021 he is still AMAZING, drives well, no problems, except for the recall on hood latch. I have and am still in love with my Tribeca. I LOVE Subies and all the company stands for. I wouldn't trade my Tribeca for anything. Just so you know not ALL Tribecas have been disappointing.

cris (not verified)    March 19, 2023 - 12:16AM

In reply to by Michelle (not verified)

I have a 2006 Tribeca with 280,000km on it. What a fantastic vehicle it has been, with no thought of changing it soon. It has done everything asked of it with little effort and only minor problems. Started out as grandparents 7 seater after having a run of 4 Forester 2.5l's. All nice cars. The TRIBECA was a game changer, more comfort, more power, more space and far better list of extras. All log book services, a shortened oil change interval and always used injector cleaner resulted in no problems at all until 250,000km. Then after having the spark plugs changed, a fault reported on #4 cylinder cracked insulator on the coil I think overtightened when plugs changed) Still running strong and healthy thank you very much. And I love the quirky body shape.

Teresa (not verified)    June 28, 2021 - 5:22PM

I have a 2009 Subaru Tribeca I bought for only $1000 from a friend. It was a steal!! Kept overheating, I diagnosed it and had the heater coil bypassed! I’ve had this car as a 3rd owner with 244 k miles on car as of today. However, now at this many miles here’s what’s happening. Differential rear end is making that noise, the heater coil needs to be replaced, the catalytic converter is going out and of course the O2 sensor, cruise control is broke. I’m not going to put in any money into this vehicle with the miles so high and they don’t make them anymore. I’m going to buy a new or new used car. I absolutely love my Tribeca! She’s never left me on side of the road, she gets up and hauls ass, I have a lot of storage, I’m single so of course I do! I’ve owned new and used cars, this Tribeca is by far the best vehicle I’ve ever owned. It’s going to be a bittersweet day for me in a few weeks. I’m really going to miss that car!! Not sure what I’m going get yet, looking for new maybe depending on price. The used ones are just as pricey, however, I’m looking to pay cash. Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson has my attention rt now. Anyone with any suggestions are welcome!! Thank you for reading ❤️

Joslynn Ann Burke (not verified)    March 12, 2022 - 5:05PM

I have a 06 tribeca with 211,k on it. We drive it from.milwaukee to Louisville often ..round trip takes 3 gas station stops. Only thing I had to replace was the serpentine belt. I love my tribeca

J Hopkins (not verified)    May 1, 2022 - 3:59PM

I have problems with the starter needing replaced. Three starters so far for our 2011 Tribeca. Not sure what is going on with it. It has left me sitting and waiting for AAA. I won’t give up on her though.

J.D'Cruz (not verified)    May 21, 2022 - 8:39PM

I owned the very first 2006 Subaru Tribeca and got 145000 miles out of it before head gasket problems. Alot of issues with reliability. Then decided to buy a 2013 Subaru Tribeca. I pull a 2800 llb teardrop trailer with it, no issues. It does need an oil cooler connection to move the tow rating to 3500 lbs so it is a little misleading to ding Subaru Tribeca for a 2000 lbs towing capacity when it can pull up to 3500 lbs with an oil cooler line. The 2013 is far more reliable IMO than the 2006 and the boxer engine is very smooth. The MPG is alot to be desired averaging 18 combined without the trailer, 11-12 MPG with the trailer. I will say this from a safety perspective and handling this SUV has been a dream on the highway and hairpin turns through the mountains of WV with a trailer in tow. The Ascent is too big for our needs(empty nesters). Wish Subaru would have something between an Outback and Ascent. For now we'll continue to run with the Subaru Tribeca...

Pat Bucci (not verified)    December 5, 2022 - 1:35AM

I own a 2010 Subaru Tribeca with 202,000 km. the engine overheated during the hot summer, the dealership fixed the problem by adding new coolant to the reservoir, the outside temperature is colder now but the engine still overheats when the engine is idling through high traffic. Sometimes the heater blows cooler air while the heater is turned on, the dealership says I may have a blown gasket. Does anyone else have these issues with their car? I had few problems with this SUV like replacing the oxygen sensors, replacing the gas tank and suspension bushings

Pete (not verified)    March 12, 2023 - 12:37PM

In reply to by Pat Bucci (not verified)

Just went through this there is a water distribution pipe under the intake that has two short hoses
That leak around 100k miles they can be changed
By removing ac compressor and ps pump.