The Subaru Tribeca has undergone a significant refresh
There's nothing like a rushed-through facelift to shine a spotlight on one of the upmarket 4x4 segment's biggest underachievers.
Step forward the Subaru's B9 Tribeca, which only launched to us Brits last year, but which has already come in for a serious revision of its design and mechanicals, following a lukewarm reception by the critics and a slow start in the showroom.
The tweaked 2008 model gets a completely redesigned front end, a number of cabin updates, and a 256bhp 3.6-litre flat-six engine in place of the current model's 245bhp 3.0-litre unit.
It's also got a new name; from this model onwards, the large Japanese 4x4 will just be known as the Subaru Tribeca; the B9 part has, presumably, been discarded as an unnecessary complication.
By now, you'll have noticed the car's new grille – or rather, the absence of the old one. Gone are the aeroplane-inspired features of the original B9, replaced by a much less offensive, but also less recognisable four-bar grille. The bonnet has been redesigned too, as have the headlights, rear light clusters and the front valance.
Having toned down its looks, Subaru next priority was the Tribeca's engine. The company claims that it has added usable urge without reducing fuel efficiency, by stroking the car's 3.0-litre boxer six to 3.6-litres (specifically by shortening the engine's conrods so as not to affect the overall packaging of the unit), and by adding variable valve control on both intake and exhaust valves (the 3.0-litre engine had variable intake valve control only).
Peak power has increased from 245 to 256bhp, while peak torque has taken an even larger jump, from 215 to 247lb ft. Unfortunately, there's still no multi-cylinder diesel engine on the cards, which many 4x4 buyers consider an essential.
Subaru has also revised the five-speed automatic gearbox its big SUV comes with, adding a torque converter that locks-up to 100 per cent in order to transmit maximum drive to the wheels, and, it says, allowing it to change ratios more quickly and more smoothly.
Other significant changes to the car are new bushings for the rear suspension, a mechanism that makes the second row of seats easier to slide, and grab handles that allow passengers an easier route to the third row too.
The revised Tribeca goes on sale in the US later this year; expect it to come to the UK during spring 2008.