Outside of my marriage, this has been the longest relationship I’ve ever had.
She’s been reliable, steady as a she goes, and has never let me down. Sure, maybe she “drinks” a little too much, but that’s because she’s a six cylinder kind of gal. She’s been my constant, my rock, my touchstone, and my faithful companion for a good chunk of my time as a stay-at-home dad. I see her every day. EVERY DAMN DAY. What can I say… I am really going to miss her.
“She” is my 2010 Subaru Tribeca.
How did we get here? Allow me to explain. It was spring 2010 and our silver 2004 Forester simply wasn’t cutting it anymore. The kids were growing. I was growing. The car simply seemed – cramped. One day, while getting service for the Forester, I casually asked about the Tribeca, Subaru’s new entry into the seven passenger SUV market. The guy behind the counter told me:
“You know, we’re selling our Tribeca demo right now.”
WHAT! They were selling the car they let people test drive? Unreal! I had to have her. I just HAD to have her. We came back to the dealership on the weekend. After a quick test drive and and even quicker trade in, that gorgeous graphite grey gas guzzler was mine… ALL MINE.
The kids loved her right off the bat, all because of one special feature: the DVD entertainment system, complete with headphones. On any ride over four minutes long, they begged me to play them a movie. At the time, Daniel and Abby were aged five and seven, and anything I could use to keep them quiet and calm during traffic was an absolute godsend.
This was my golden age of car travel.
As a stay-at-home dad, I volunteered A LOT to drive my kids and their classmates on school field trips. With third row seating that could seat seven, my Tribeca was a very practical choice to cart these little monsters all over Calgary. And trust me, when things got crazy in the car, that entertainment system saved the day more than once.
When you drive as much as I do, it’s important to have a car that you like. It’s also important the kids you constantly drive around also like your car, and for those first few years, they most certainly did. But, as kids get older, interests change. The DVD entertainment system no longer seemed magical, and the numerous complaints began in earnest.
“Why does this car not have heated rear seats? Mom’s car does! Why is this dumb car so bumpy? Mom’s car is smooth! Why doesn’t the heat blow in the back? It only blows cold! Mom’s car blows hot air in the back!”
Yes, my kids finally realized… like anyone with a brain, that Lianne’s car (an Audi Q5) was a much, much, much, much, much nicer car than my Subaru Tribeca. Now, it seemed everyone had turned their backs on my precious Tribeca… everyone but ME.
I still loved her. I still washed her. I still faithfully serviced her every six months or 8,000 km. She was still my baby, despite her many faults.
And yes, I had to agree with the kids on some of her shortcomings. Yes, the ventilation system in the back only blows the air conditioning through the vents, and not the heat. That really blows! On icy-cold days, I could turn on the seat warmers in the front, while the kids (literally) froze their butts off in the back. Yes, that WOULD be annoying. And yes, after driving Lianne’s Audi from time to time, I certainly noticed a big difference. The silky-smooth, German-engineered ride was a treat compared to the constant light jostling I got when I drove my car.
And don’t get me started on GAS MILAGE! Our previous cars, a VW Jetta and Subaru Forester were both great on gas. The Tribeca was a bigger car with a bigger engine but with the same size of gas tank. It seemed like I was ALWAYS fuelling up. ALWAYS!
Another annoying thing about my car was the length. It was significantly longer than my previous vehicles, and for that reason, I could never quite replicate my savant-like ability to parallel park. Yes, I’m proud to say, that back in the day, I could parallel park with the BEST of them. THE BEST OF THEM I TELL YOU!
I remember Lianne would say: “There’s no WAY you’ll fit in that spot!” I’d just look over at her with a wry smile and say: “Just watch me.”
Could I do that with the Tribeca? Nope. No dice. I just didn’t have the “gift” anymore.
Now, you might be thinking that with all of these shortcomings, I’d be chomping at the bit to unload this 10-year-old hunk of junk… but I’m not. I’m really not. This car has safely transported our family on countless road trips over the years. From numerous adventures to the Rocky Mountains, Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Vancouver Island and back… the list goes on.
Unlike Lianne’s car (which she basically drives to work and back home) my car was the true FAMILY car. If the four of us had to go somewhere, it was in my Tribeca.
There are so many reasons why it’s so hard to let her go.
1) My kids grew up in this car!
My kids spent a lot of time in this car from 2010 to 2020. They ate countless drive-through meals on the way to and from gymnastics, soccer, piano, basketball, hockey, volleyball, rugby and many other activities. I think the back seat still smells like old french fries!
At times, my car was their dining room, bedroom and living room.
Thank God it was never their bathroom! But, full disclosure… my kids have definitely puked in it… more than once.
2) My daughter learned to drive in this car!
Abby also scraped the side of it when she cut it too close while parking in the garage, but that just added to the legend… the lustre… the loveable character of my Tribeca.
3) I could haul LOTS of stuff in this car! And I mean LOTS.
This car has made multiple trips to the DUMP, and never let me down. Sure, there have been plenty of times when I couldn’t see anything out of my rear window… but that’s just how I roll.
4) My body has flattened and shaped the driver seat to the exact contours and specifications of my ass!
Never underestimate the importance of a comfortable seat… especially if you’ve spent thousands of hours in it.
So if this car is so damn awesome, WHY AM I GETTING RID OF IT???
Sigh. I hate to be ageist but my beautiful Tribeca isn’t exactly a spring chicken.
She just hit 180,000 km on the odometer. I know that’s not a crazy amount of clicks, but that’s not the only thing to consider. In the next six months, she probably needs new brakes, new tires, a new timing belt… the list goes on. And guess what? A quick Google search shows 2010 Tribecas are being sold for $5,000 to $10,000. She’s just not worth all that much anymore!
I really don’t know what I could get for her… as she’s not in pristine condition, but I do know I have several thousand dollars of maintenance coming up soon. Very soon.
And, please don’t tell her… but I have my eye on a much younger model.
I’m not carting around a whole whack of kids on field trips anymore. I don’t want to fill up my tank twice a week. I don’t need all of that extra cargo space. Abby is now driving her own car. Next year, I’ll have two kids in high school… and after that, we could be empty nesters before you know it. My Tribeca may feel like a part of the family, but she is simply too much car for the next phase of my life!
It pains me to say it, but it’s time to say goodbye.
People always say you never forget your first car.
For me, that’s simply not the case. I never really liked my first car: a 1988 Ford Mustang. It had weird pink and purple accent striping, it was only a 4-banger, and it was kind of a lemon.
I’d actually like to forget it.
Driving an unremarkable family SUV for ten years did not make me cool, but it faithfully served as my sidekick as I performed my daily duties as a dad. I jokingly tell people that being a stay-at-home father is like being an Uber driver. But all kidding aside, with the amount of time I’ve spent driving my kids all over town, it actually rings quite true.
As I say goodbye to her, I know in my heart there’s no other car I would have wanted along for the ride on this crazy journey called parenthood.
My 2010 Subaru Tribeca is the car I will never forget.
“She” is the only car I will always love.