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Introduced in 2005 for the ’06 model year, the B9 Tribeca was, and is, the biggest sport-ute Subaru has made.

According to Subaru, the B9 Tribeca originally got its name because it represented "trend-setting fun and sophistication."

Tribeca is a funky, semi-artsy neighbourhood in Manhattan - the name stands for Triangle-Below-Canal - that features offbeat clubs and shops. The B9 part came from "B" for Subaru's tried-and-true Boxer engine, and 9 from the company's large-vehicle series platform.

Introduced in 2005 for the '06 model year, the Tribeca was, and is, the biggest sport-ute Subaru has made, and was described by the company as a "progressive" SUV - whatever that is. Most folks would probably know it as a crossover vehicle, and it was intended to be Subaru's flagship model.

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Power was provided by Subaru's familiar horizontally opposed, six-cylinder Boxer engine. Among other things, it features four valves per cylinder, twin camshafts and Subaru's Variable Valve Lift System. In a nutshell, this latter arrangement varies intake valve lift by hydraulically and mechanically opening the engine's valve-train at higher rpms via the valve tappets, camshaft lobes and engine timing.

The result was a smooth-running, surprisingly powerful flat-six that developed 250 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 219 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. There was one transmission choice: a five-speed automatic with Sportshift manual-shifting feature.

Being a Subaru, the B9 Tribeca came with a full-time, all-wheel drive system. In this case, it utilized a centre differential and electronically controlled clutch. During most driving conditions, power is delivered to the rear wheels, but when things start to deteriorate, more oomph is sent to all the wheels - Subaru described this system as "symmetrical" and installed a rear-mounted badge on the B9 Tribeca just to drive the point home.

Available in five- and seven-passenger configurations, the Tribeca's equipment list was pretty comprehensive. Climate control system, eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, power tilting moon roof, four-wheel disc brakes, fold-flat rear seats and no less than 10 cup holders were all standard.

Options included leather interior, upgraded stereo with steering-wheel-mounted remote controls, rear passenger cooling, rear passenger entertainment system and the inevitable DVD-based navigation system.

All things considered, the Tribeca was an upscale SUV and the most luxurious SUV produced by Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru's parent).

But its most distinguishing feature - aside from the name, of course - was the controversial front-end treatment, which was described by Subaru's head designer, Andreas Zapatinas, as a "new mixture" of styling features found in other types of vehicles - a little bit of this, a dash of that, a smidgeon of the other thing. Depending on who you talked to, it looked like either a '58 Edsel after a front-ender or an Alfa gone horribly wrong.

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Fuji Heavy Industries also manufactures components for the aviation industry (one of its clients is Boeing) and part of the grille treatment was meant to reflect its aeronautical background. Either way, the grille was gone after 2007 and the name abbreviated to Tribeca.

There's only one safety recall to report for the Tribeca, and it actually concerns 2008 models. According to the U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the vehicle dynamic control sensor may have been incorrectly installed on some vehicles, which could result in unstable handling and braking during certain driving conditions. Dealers will reinstall the sensor as needed.

NHTSA has 11 technical service bulletins on file for the B9 Tribeca, the majority of them concerning '06 models. Among the possible glitches: a tailgate that may not support the amount of weight it's rated for, unco-operative second-row seats and the non-availability of a spare tire.

For the most part, Consumer Reports likes the Tribeca, bestowing a "better than average" score for predicted reliability. It also gets a "good bet" rating from this organization and, aside from possible glitches in the suspension and climate control system and mysterious "squeaks and rattles," gets above-average scores right down the line. An engine upgrade in 2008 also brought a welcome boost in performance.

Market research company J.D. Power doesn't have much to say about the Tribeca, other than to mention that the front-end redesign, in 2008, was a good thing, as was the larger 3.6-litre engine, added in the same year. Still, it barely gets an "average" rating for overall performance and design.

Depending upon the year, trim level and seating capacity, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20,000 to $26,000 for a three-year-old Tribeca. About $3,000 to $5,000 separates the base model from the Limited, and the seven-passenger model with navi is the priciest of all.

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globeauto@globeandmail.com

2006 SUBARU B9 TRIBECA

Type: Five- or seven-passenger crossover

Original Base Price: $41,995; Black Book Value: $20,075-$22,175; Red Book Value: $19,675-$25,975

Engine: 3.0-litre, horizontally opposed, six-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque: 250 hp/219 lb-ft

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Transmission: Five-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 13.3 city/9.5 highway; premium gas

Alternatives: Acura MDX, Volkswagen Touareg, Lexus RX330, Honda Pilot, BMW X5

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