Every B9 also comes with tire-pressure monitoring, dual-stage and seat-mounted side-impact airbags in front, and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows. Three-point seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters are at every seating position. The unibody construction uses high-tension steel beams and impact-absorbing foam, and the Ring Frame reinforced structure, which forms a series of rings around the cabin, has a hydroformed subframe.

The cabin resembles an airplane cockpit, with the driver and front passenger separated by the wraparound center console. Thin, brushed-aluminum accents start at the doors and run along the dash, dividing the black dashboard from the beige bottom panels. The aluminum section widens and continues to the curved center stack, which houses the HVAC controls, AM/FM/CD head unit, and shifter.

Above the center stack is the information screen, also used by the optional touchscreen navigation system. Whether or not the vehicle's equipped with nav, the screen can display fuel consumption and A and B trip meters (and each one's distance, time, and average fuel use) and allows you to store that information. It also features a maintenance section as well as a calculator and calendar. Optional rear-seat entertainment comes with a nine-inch flipdown screen mounted in the headliner, a wireless remote, and a set of wireless headphones for each second-row passenger. Behind the left second-row seat is a set of inputs for a video-game console or video camera.

Interior space is plentiful in the front row, with excellent head- and legroom. The second row, though lacking lateral and thigh support, is comfortable for most. The seats recline and can slide up to eight inches, and each of the three passengers has his own headrest. The third row can snugly seat two small adults. The second and third rows fold flat when cargo's the priority. While the B9's roof is stepped, providing enough headroom in every row, the third row is better suited for children.

Subaru's first venture into the sport/utility market is bold, stylish, and a good conversation-starter. The face isn't for everyone, but it's the driving experience that counts, and Subaru's done an excellent job keeping it sporty enough to make the daily commute more enjoyable. Its starting price of $31,320--making it the most expensive Subaru to date--does offer a lot of standard equipment in base configuration. Even the top-line seven-passenger Limited costs less than almost all its rivals' top models and has rear-seat DVD entertainment and a navigation system. If you enjoy spirited driving and need more room for kids and cargo, the Tribeca should have a place on your short list.