2008 Subaru Tribeca...hate to love it



I am the recent buyer of a 2008 Subaru Tribeca, and, although I love the car, I admittedly did not do my homework before purchasing and have discovered the following two problems that are souring my overall enjoyment of the car:

1) Poor gas mileage: the car is rated for 16-20 mpg but I tend to avg barely 17 mpg using regular gas. Is there anything I can do to improve this?

2) The car shifts hard (i.e. slams into gear) between 2nd and 3rd during moderate accelaration. The hard shifting tends to disappear at slow and/or fast accelaration. I brought this to the attention of the dealer who after driving the car told me the hard shifting I am experiencing is normal. Can this be true?


Re transmission, see if you can borrow another one from the dealer for a test drive and see if it does the same. He should be eager to prove that “they all do it”.

Poor mileage is effected by the following. Driving style is the biggest, coast to lights, accelerate gently after lights. Keep speed down. No roof rack. Check tire pressure. use premium if required/recommended. Tire type.

But that does seem very low. There could be mechanical problems causing this.

  1. Fuel mileage is listed as 18MPG overall on fueleconomy.gov if 55 city/45 highway. Not sure of your mix but mileage sounds about right.

  2. Look for a Tribeca forum on the shifting patterns if other owners note the problem.


Tell the service department that you want the latest software update for the transmission to be loaded into the onboard computer. If they claim ignorance, then you have to kick it up to the next level with the regional zone manager. The mileage is most likely about the best that you can expect for a vehicle of this weight, this amount of power, and–probably–your driving style/habits.


The transmission isn’t in sportshift mode is it? It might sound like a stupid question, but you would be surprised at how often someone will have it in sportshift without realizing it. The transmission will still shift on its own, but the upshift will happen at higher RPMs, which would explain the hard shifting and poor MPG.

You might also want to use the real-time MPG indicator, instead of the average MPG indicator, and see what your actual MPG is at any given time. I think you’ll probably find that your MPG is within the manufacturer’s stipulated range. If all your driving is stop and go or inner-city, you’re always going to be getting the low end of the MPG range (and lower)… but if you get out on a relatively open stretch of road you will probably find that you’re getting 20+ MPG… unless, of course, there actually is something wrong with your car.


If they say that is normal, ask them to show you by taking you on a ride in another one on the lot.


Nothing you can do about the gas mileage. C R rates it at 16 overall. They rate gas mileage. The April auto issue is out but it will do somebody else some good I hope. It would prevent people from buying rocks on wheels.


These have to be really difficult times to purchase a car. Unless you’re committed to economy it’s really hard to see how you can purchase a car you “want”. Unlike Euro. cars, we don’t have a lot to offer in economy SUVs.
We have a 4 cyl. RAV and the milage is still poor for what we have been use to…any end in sight ?

It’s a really depressing time to be shopping for a car if your gas monthly gas bill rivals your car payments.


It’s a depressing time if someone has a high car payment in general. I’ve seen a few car companies offer up to 120 month financing. If you can’t pay your car off in 3 to 5 years, you shouldn’t be buying at all(I know Craig58 will say you shouldn’t finance period, but sometimes you have to).


I know people that are considering trading cars just for milage or moving to be closer to work because of the lack of public trans.; energy cost for commuting are indeed forcing decisions I don’t remember making before.


Too bad most of them aren’t going to recoup the loss in money from trading versus buying more fuel efficient cars.
When I get moved(weather’s been crappy lately here in ohio), I’ll be shaving off about 8 miles off my daily commute(from 6 to just over 2 miles one way) and I’d be a good candidate for something like a Prius. However, even with double my fuel mileage(I’m getting about 25mpg in my Civic), I’d hafta own it a long time before I recouped the 20 grand or so in cost of buying one because I’ve averaged less than 7k miles per year since I bought my Civic just before Halloween 2001.
Assuming 7k miles per year at 25 mpg for the civic and 50 mpg for the Prius
$924/year for gas at $3.30(it hasn’t gotten there yet, but it will soon) for the civic and $462/year. assuming a $25k price tag for a Prius, I’d have to keep the Prius for about 50 years or so to make the difference up in fuel costs, if my math is correct