Used Mazda Tribute 2001-2011 review

Overall rating:4 Star Rating: Recommended
Mazda Tribute
2011 Mazda Tribute

As the SUVs became more popular during early 2000s, Mazda came up with the Tribute, which was developed in association with Ford; Ford Escape is built on the same platform. Mazda Tribute is available as a front- or four-wheel drive, with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. Hop into the driver's seat, and everything looks very basic, but if you take it for a quick spin, you will find the Tribute fairly comfortable, easy to drive and the visibility is excellent. It's one of the few old-school truck-like tall SUVs. The split rear seat can be easily folded flat (with headrests removed) and the rear liftgate glass opens separately. All in all, it's a plain, but very functional SUV. Maintenance costs are moderate, but some repairs could be quite expensive. The reliability is spotty, read more below. The Tribute was redesigned for 2008 model year, although the platform remained the same. For 2012, the Tribute was discontinued and later replaced by the Japan-built Mazda CX-5.

Mazda Tribute interior
2011 Mazda Tribute
Mazda Tribute engine
2011 Mazda Tribute 4-cylinder 2.3L engine

Engine: Earlier 4-cylinder models came with the 2.0L Ford Zetec motor. Starting from 2005, the 4-cylinder models are equipped with the 2.3L (2.5L from 2009) Mazda MZR engine. The V6 Tribute comes with the 3.0L Ford engine. Only the 2.0L Zetec engine has a timing belt that according to the owner's manual, needs to be replaced every 144,000 km (90,000 miles). The 2.3L and 2.5L 4-cylinder and the 3.0 V6 have a maintenance-free timing chain that does not require regular replacement. The 3.0L V6 is known to last over 200K miles with good maintenance.

Mechanical: Transmission choices included a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Antilock brakes (ABS) were optional (standard from 2006). Mazda Tribute has disc brakes in the front, drums in the back.

Handling and ride: The Tribute handles very well for an SUV; it feels more like a car than a truck. The ride is firm and a bit noisy at highway speed, but otherwise comfortable. The 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine is responsive, but may feel a bit underpowered with a full load. The 3.0L V6 is smooth. The available four-wheel drive system is good on snowy roads but is not capable enough for off-roading.

Pros: Perfect size, reasonably priced, spacious interior, visibility, handling, maneuverable, available V6, rear seat folds flat, liftgate glass opens separately.

Cons: Poor gas mileage for V6 models, road and wind noise at highway speeds, interior materials could be better, conservative styling, some problems could be expensive to repair.

Similar cars:

Overall: Mazda Tribute is a reasonable option if you are looking for a used truck-like SUV. It's not as cramped as Toyota RAV4 and it offers an optional V6 that you won't find in Honda CRV. At the same time, the Tribute is not as thirsty and bulky as larger truck-based SUVs. Another plus, the 4-cylinder front-wheel drive Mazda Tribute offers one of the best fuel economy among SUVs.
On the downside, the reliability is not the best. We would recommend to opt for an extended warranty if you are buying a used Mazda Tribute. It's probably a good idea to avoid 2009 V6 models, as there were some expensive to repair problems with the variable timing system of the V6 engines. Read about common problems and what to look for on the next page.