2001-2011 Mazda Tribute

Overall rating:4 Star Rating: Recommended
Mazda Tribute
2010 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. One of the last "truck-looking" SUV on the market, the Tribute offers excellent visibility, spacious practical interior and easy driving experience. The split rear seat folds flat (with headrests removed) and the liftgate glass opens separately. The reliability is spotty, read more below. Maintenance costs are moderate. 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 more efficient CX-5.

Mazda Tribute interior
2010 Mazda Tribute
Mazda Tribute engine
2010 Mazda Tribute 4-cylinder 2.5L 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.

Mechanical: The Tribute has a frameless construction with front and rear independend suspension. 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 drives more like a car than a truck. There is some road noise, but otherwise the ride is very comfortable. The 2.5L 4-cylinder engine is responsive, but may feel a bit underpowered with a full load. The 3.0L V6 is smooth but thirsty. The available simple four-wheel drive system will help in a bad weather, but is not capable for off-road adventures.

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.

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Overall: A used Mazda Tribute is a sensible option if you need a roomy interior and good visibility. The 2009-plus 2.5L 4-cylinder model is the best option for reliability and fuel economy. The 2010 Tribute with 2.5L 4-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission is rated at 21/28 mpg city/hwy (402 miles to a tank). The V6 engine was reliable in earlier models, however the 2009 V6 Tribute had problems with the variable timing system. Read more about common problems and what to look for on the next page.