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New York show: Subaru spills on seven-seat SUV

Future look: The seven-seat Subaru SUV has not yet been seen, but it could take some styling cues from the Viziv 2 concept.

Subaru Tribeca replacement coming by 2019 and it will carry a new name

26 Mar 2016


SUBARU’S Tribeca-replacing seven-seat SUV will hit the market in two-to-three years and is highly likely to be offered in Australia after an initial roll-out in the United States.

Little is known about the full-size three-row SUV, but it will compete directly with a number of popular models, including the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, as well as the replacements for the Ford Territory and Holden Captiva.

The Japanese car-maker has not revealed the design direction for the model, but it could take cues from recent SUV concepts such as the Viziv from the 2014 Geneva motor show, and if it follows Subaru’s recent history, it will be previewed by a sleek concept ahead of its production-ready reveal.

Subaru of America president and chief operating officer Tom Doll talked up the look of the SUV with Australian reporters at this week’s New York motor show.

“It’s been announced that we will be having a seven-passenger vehicle for the US market,” he said. “We have seen the prototypes and the designs. It is really nice. It is a true seven-passenger (SUV) for the market. We are very excited about it but that’s a few years away yet.”

When asked if the SUV would make its production debut in 2018 or 2019, Mr Doll said that timing was a “fair guess”.

He also confirmed that it would be underpinned by the new global architecture that will form the basis of all future Subaru products, starting with the Impreza sedan and hatch that arrive in Australia in the next 12 months.

Mr Doll said it was his understanding that the seven-seater would be built in the United States and added that consumer reaction in American would determine what other markets it is rolled out to following its launch.

“I can’t say it won’t be built in Japan for other markets but right now the plan is for it to be built at out factory in Indiana.

“I think it will be launched in the US first and then we will see how it goes here and depending on the reaction it may get into other markets.”

Mr Doll said the “current plan” was that the Tribeca nameplate would not be resurrected for the new model, with Subaru aiming for something fresh to avoid a connection with the original that received mixed reviews from consumers and media when it launched in 2006.

“We will try to come up with a different name,” he said.

“When the Tribeca first came out, it was a beautiful car but it was underpowered and had some other issues related to it. We want to kind of break that memory in the market and come out with another trade name. We feel it is better for us to build another trademark than to continue the Tribeca name.”

Mr Doll said the unnamed SUV could become one of its most popular Subaru models, given its anticipated fuel economy figures and overall packaging.

“I don’t know if it will be the top seller – it won’t be in the range of Outback or Forester – but it would be a top seller. It allows us to get the next generation of families that are being formed.

“Also this is a vehicle that is going to get reasonably good fuel economy for a seven passenger. Subaru safety and all-wheel drive, it will be a combination that can’t be matched in the market. We are really excited about this seven passenger.”

Launched in January 2006, the Tribeca was not popular among Australian buyers, which was due in part to its unusual aeronautically themed exterior styling.

Subaru quickly developed a facelift that arrived a year later, and while sales picked up, it was never in danger of chasing the top sellers in the segment at the time, including the Ford Territory and Holden Captiva 7.

The car-maker announced in late-2013 that production of the Tribeca would cease, but that it had longer-term plans to re-enter the segment.

Subaru’s largest offering at the moment is the Outback high-riding wagon, but it is not offered with a third row.

The Liberty Exiga wagon was offered in Australia with six and seven seats, but it too was discontinued after Subaru decided to not produce a Liberty wagon for the current generation and instead focus on the sedan and Outback crossover.

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