The Mazda Tribute is a compact SUV released in 1991 in partnership with Ford. This passenger SUV was meant to be driven through the city streets rather than on muddy swamps or rocky hills, but that is not to say that it wasn’t capable of doing so. This vehicle can be aptly described as a car built like an SUV or perhaps, an SUV made to look like a car. Whatever the case, this vehicle combines the comforts and deft handling of a passenger car with the ruggedness of most SUVs. The Mazda Tribute was a popular vehicle that had an above-average performance when it was first released.
2001: First generation
The first Mazda Tribute was equipped with a 130-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four engine with an option to switch to a 200-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine. In 2005, the suspension of the SUV was improved, and the base engine was upgraded to 153-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. Transmission was a five-speed manual, but a four-speed automatic was optional.
Reviews of the Mazda Tribute were generally favorable. Its spacious interior, excellent handling and overall toughness were some of the most mentioned strengths of the vehicle. The base engine was sometimes criticized for being underpowered, and while the V6 had enough power to propel the whole vehicle, it was a bit of a gas guzzler.
2008: Second generation
The second Tribute released came with the same engine lineup as the previous generation: the 130-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four engine and the 200-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine. Engine choices were changed in the following year to a 171-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. Like the engine lineup, the transmissions were also carried over from the previous generation but were eventually replaced with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Tribute further improved on what made the previous generation so great. The interior was as spacious as ever, and the styling was improved with the use of high-quality materials. The ride was generally described as being smooth, and the new engine lineup was more than adequate enough to power the SUV. Overall, the Tribute was very much like its predecessor; it was built more like a truck. Though it provided a very comfortable ride, other vehicles of the same class have caught up and even exceeded the Tribute in many aspects.
2011: Demise of the Mazda Tribute
Since its second generation release, only a few improvements have been introduced to the Tribute, allowing it to be eclipsed by other compact SUVs. As a result, the Tribute was discontinued in 2011 to make way for the new Mazda CX-5.