When Subaru, known for its expertise in all-wheel drive technology, introduced a new mid-size crossover SUV in 2005, everyone expected it to be good. And it was to an extent, with a decent ride, a smooth 3.0-litre six-cylinder boxer engine pumping out 250bhp, a solid all-wheel drive system, and practicality offered by three rows of seating. However, while it stuck to all these traditional strong points, the Japanese carmaker tried to do something differently, which proved to be the model's undoing. And that was introducing a new corporate face with this car.
Penned by the stylists at Fuore Design, an independent Spanish design consultancy, the new styling language was anchored by a triangular grille that apparently conveyed the "glorious history in aviation" of parent-company Fuji Heavy Industries. The problem was that instead of doing what it was supposed to, the grille conveyed a lot of other awkward, disagreeable ideas that soon made it the butt of ridicule among the public. While distinctiveness has always been a defining characteristic of Subarus, the Tribeca's styling treatment was a bit too much for even die-hard fans to come to terms with. The resentment was too significant to go unnoticed and a facelifted model sans the controversial mug was introduced just a couple of years later. However, the new version was again panned for being too generic, as the designers obviously tried to play it safe.
Although it had become clear that no amount of tweaks and facelifts was going to salvage the model, Subaru kept pushing the Tribeca for nearly a decade. Sales figures went from bad to dismal, and finally the plug was pulled in 2014, nine years after its debut.