Both the 2011 Dodge Durango and 2011 Subaru Tribeca are the oddballs among the family hauling 7-passenger SUV set, but if you need real room for family then they really can’t be beat without having to buy one of those SUV behemoths. You might not instantly put these two on your new family SUV short list, but they both deserve your consideration.
You know, something like a pearl white Super Size Cadillac Escalade will let everyone around you know once and for all that you are the most important human on the planet because clearly no one else matters. Especially those smaller vehicles that you can’t see via your horrific blind spots.
The 2011 Durango and 2011 Tribeca are also softer, gentler versions of their former selves. First off, the Tribeca now looks nothing like the pug-nosed SUV from another planet that frightened away buyers the first year it was on sale. In fact, thanks to some well done rhinoplasty, the Tribeca proved to be the most striking SUV in this test with expensive looking chrome detailing, and attractive head and tail lamp designs.
Neither of these two SUVs really break the mould much here from a visual perspective, however. They are built to haul seven family members in comfort and have enough cargo room for when Little League practice strikes. This does not spur creativity, it induces extreme utilitarianism.
So which of the two wins the family/cargo measurement stakes? Well, the Durango definitely has the roomier third row thanks to the fact that it is built on a Jeep Grand Cherokee platform that was stretched for just that reason. This also proves that the Durango should prove worth off-road as well.
From behind the wheel the Durango may be king when it comes to steering feel and controlling body roll, but the Subaru Tribeca’s 3.6 liter V6 256 horsepower flat six cylinder engine managed to win my heart thanks to its symphonic engine note and ample power. The Dodge’s new Pentastar 3.6 liter 260 horsepower motor does offer sufficient passing power but doesn’t have the character of the Subaru’s oddball sensibility.
You see, all Subaru model comes with “flat” or “boxer” cylinders that are horizontally opposed. this allows Subaru to mount the engines lower in its vehicles thereby lowering the center of gravity. This aids in cornering ability and stability and I could tell the difference between the more secure feeling Tribeca and the slightly more top heavy Durango.
The 2011 Durango deserves an A plus for improvement when it comes to its new interior in terms of fit and finish, quality of materials and overall design. My $35,590 tester came equipped with everything a family could need like climate control, navigation, rear climate control, a moonroof, Bluetooth, USB/iPod integration, Sirius satellite radio all for $35,596.
My 2011 Subaru Tribeca, however, was just a bit more appealing on the family front what with its very supple (and easy to clean) leather, back-up camera and rear seat DVD entertainment for those riding in the back two rows. The dashboard also looks like something lifted directly out of the Starship Enterprise yet still all of the controls are easy to find and manipulate. Subaru just bothered to make them look unique. Do note that the Tribeca at this price also comes with full time all-wheel drive while my Crew tester only had 4WD.
Priced like for like, you could easily push the 2011 Dodge Durango’s price well above that of the Tribeca. But the Durango also offers a lot more trim levels. So, if you just want all the toys and all the safety for your family, go for the Subaru Tribeca. Not everyone has to drive a Highlander.