Between the Lines: AutoWeek on the Subaru Tribeca B9

This Web site and others have savaged the Subaru B9 Tribeca for its hideous snout, ugly ass, cramped interior, hateful ergonomics, anemic engine, pathetic gearbox and piss-poor mileage. Needless to say, Rich Ceppos and his fellow AutoWeek scribes don t share our editorial freedom. The magazine s lucrative relationship with their auto making sponsors demands that all punches must be pulled, all dissing dissipated. So when AutoWeek s Autofile set its sites on the horrific B9, it was inevitable that it would read more like a bi-polar apologia than a coherent analysis.

Once again, AutoWeek signals its need to appease even before an article begins. STOP THE GRILLE-ING! the headline screams. Otherwise, Tribeca is OK . Methinks AutoWeek doth protest too much. In fact, the header makes the magazine sound like a wayward husband trying to drown out his wife s [accurate] accusations of adultery. More to the point, the subhead makes it perfectly clear that Autoweek s eds would have us believe from right from the git-go that Scooby s first-ever SUV is a perfectly adequate machine with a bit of unfortunate rhinoplasty. As if. If only.

Anyway, there is honor in AutoWeek s decision to start the Autofile with an acknowledgement of the Tribeca s nose problem — even if the writer chooses to hide behind Subaru s press release.

The B9 Tribeca is the new Subaru flagship and style leader. The company states its SUV debuts new design language for Subaru, featuring a distinctive grille theme derived from the company s aircraft heritage. Already the new grille has spread to the Impreza line.
In other words, hey, you guys said it was important; so don t blame us for mentioning it. So far, so craven. Of course, it gets worse.
That grille is causing controversy, however, as even the Subaru fans on staff dislike the new Tribeca s front. And yet those who don t like the grille evidently don t buy this SUV, as none of the Tribeca owners who responded to our request for comments even mentioned it. At least not as a complaint.
Suggesting that the B9 s grille isn t ugly because a self-selected group of boastful owners didn t mention it is a total betrayal of truth, honesty and common fucking sense. As the last sentence suggests, we re in for worse.
Said one respondent of the Tribeca, I love the unique Euro styling. This car is definitely not a me-too vehicle. Another said, What s not to like?"
While we can confirm that the B9-lover exists (the Owners say sidebar provides the same quote and lists Mr. Nicastro s name and address), AutoWeek s use of his words to negate criticism of the B9 s nasal affront throws into question the journalistic integrity—- indeed, the fundamental legitimacy — of the whole Autofile endeavor.

What exactly do we learn from an assortment of carefully selected quotes drawn from a non-scientific sample of Subaru owners — especially when it s blended with the equally edited observations of professional car journalists? No more or less than what the editors want us to learn, without all the annoyance of personal responsibility.

In any case, the interests of fairness and accuracy would be better served if ALL quotes within the main text included specific attribution. An owner we heard from , some staffers , a third staffer — makes you wonder if the writer isn t simply making it up. Perish the thought.

Autofile goes on to slam the Tribeca — in the nicest possible way. Mileage is unexpectedly below 20mpg. Subaru overreached at the price. Acceleration runs created no great drama. Whilst braking, there was not too much squat nor too much pedal thumping drama. All the major punches save one ( The brakes were smoking after the second stop ) are accompanied by an apology.

Another staffer said the Tribeca doesn t fit his idea of a Subaru. I guess everybody feels a need to have a big ute in the marketplace these days, he said. Sure wish Subaru wasn t one of them. But he added the Tribeca interior is the nicest, most Saab-like interior he has ever seen in a Subaru. Very well-appointed, he said, with a strong layout on the center stack and lots of good places to put things.
The Autofile soon grinds to its inevitable, predictable conclusion: one final excuse for the B9 s nose. The other tester reveals that At least you can t see it when you re inside. I m sure the exact same reasoning applies to AutoWeek s editorial cowardice.

Subaru 2006 B9 Tribeca [AutoWeek]

[Jalopnik s Between the Lines column parses the rhetoric of the automotive industry, and the media that covers it, from the point of view of that kid at the back of the class with ADD, a genius IQ and a thirst for mayhem.]

Related:
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Subaru B9 Tribeca Limited, Part 1; Between the Lines: GM s LaNeve on Red Tag Sale [internal]