REYKJAVIK, Iceland – When it debuted in the U.S. in 2005 as an ’06 model, the Subaru Tribeca was a relatively large vehicle.
But, as the body-on-frame SUV trend waned and automakers moved to fit the same amount of interior volume into a car-based architecture, the Tribeca quickly was overshadowed.
A company spokesman says this is why Tribeca sales struggled while other models in Subaru’s U.S. lineup ascended.
“We think we know why Tribeca didn’t do as well as it could have done: It was wrongly sized for how the market went,” Subaru’s Michael McHale says here during an XV Crosstrek Hybrid media backgrounder last week. “At its debut it was on the tight side, but certainly within a couple years the vehicles in that segment just got bigger, and it was very difficult for it to compete.”
The brand recently announced it was nixing the Tribeca from its U.S. lineup, with production of the model ending in January at Subaru’s Lafayette, IN, plant.
While the vehicle has three rows of seats, which at first were optional but made standard in ’10, they are fitted into a midsize package.
And although it is longer than most midsize CUVs, the Tribeca isn’t as wide as its competitors or larger CUVs, which also offer three rows, sometimes for less money.
For instance, in the Tribeca’s third row, shoulder room is 51.3 ins. (1,303 mm) compared with 57.1 ins. (1,450 mm) in the ’14Pathfinder’s far-back seat.
The Tribeca begins at $34,920 for ’14, while the Pathfinder starts at $29,710.
No doubt cost also was a factor in the Tribeca’s lack of success. With its nearly $35,000 starting price, it is the only CUV by a mass-market brand, other than’s Touareg to qualify for WardsAuto’s Middle Luxury CUV segment.
The Subaru CUV bumps up against the $35,000-plus Acura RDX and Volvo XC70 models. Midsize CUVs by mass-market brands typically begin at about $25,000.
Due to demand by dealers, and as first reported by WardsAuto earlier this year, Subaru will replace the Tribeca “with a true 7-passenger vehicle, but it’s still a few years away,” says Bill Cyphers, senior vice president-sales for Subaru of America.
The brand’s parent company,Heavy Industries, likely will provide a strong indication of the future large CUV at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show with the Crossover 7 concept.
The concept has a 2.5L boxer 4-cyl. engine mated to a continuously variable transmission and Subaru’s standard all-wheel-drive technology.
Tribeca sales through October tallied just 1,348 units, WardsAuto data shows, making it the third lowest-selling model in its segment in the period, outperforming only the new Infiniti QX50 (763 sales) and its predecessor, the Infiniti EX (825 sales).
Tribeca reached its zenith in 2006, the first full year of sale, racking up 18,614 deliveries.
But annual volume dropped to the 16,000, 10,000 and 5,000-unit range in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively, then fell into the 2,000-range annually from 2010 through 2012.