The Mazda Tribute compact SUV was introduced in 2001. This dangerously vivacious and appealing looking small sport utility vehicle was manufactured to replace the Mazda Navajo, which had been discontinued years earlier. The 5 passenger, four door Tribute came equipped with either a 2.3 liter 4 cylinder or 3.0 liter V6 engine and in front wheel or all wheel drive. Models included the DX, which was the only model that could be configured with either the 4 cylinder or the 6 cylinder engine, and the LX and ES upscale models, both 6 cylinder automatics with 60/40 split fold rear seatbacks and a variety of available safety, comfort and convenience options.
For the 2002 and 2003 model years, the Tribute received interior upgrades that included steering wheel mounted audio system controls and a redesigned steering column. The 2005 2.3 liter Tribute engine was beefed up to produce 153 horsepower. Safety and security were features were added and one of several upgrades in this area included the availability of side air bags. The 2005 model year also saw a change in model names from the DX, LX and ES to the 'i' and's'.
This fun to drive smaller SUV had made a favorable mark with its solid, roomy, comfortable and mechanically reliable vehicle. The Tribute offers an excellent alternative to mid size SUV's and truck based wagons that are not as efficient in their use of fuel or space. Although the Tribute saw no significant changes for the 2006 model year and there was no 2007 model produced, the 2008 Tribute arrived with a more rounded and rejuvenated appearance.
13 various configurations of the 2008 'i' and's' models are available in Sport, Touring or Grand Touring trims. The Tribute is equipped with a 2.3 liter, 4 cylinder or a 3.0 liter V6 engine, and is also available in all wheel drive or front wheel drive, depending upon model and trim selected. Extensive safety features, including stability and traction control mechanisms and airbags are standard on all models. The new steering system is extraordinarily responsive and the ride is comparatively smooth. A hybrid version of the Tribute is due to be released later in the 2008 model year.
Although not as refined as some of the compact SUV's manufactured by the competition, the affordably priced Mazda Tribute offers an overall upscale and fun driving experience that more than adequately meets daily driving needs while being capable of light hauling and overcoming rough road conditions when necessary.