2001 Mazda Tribute SUV Preview

2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

SUNDANCE, Utah — It means "small gift," and that’s exactly how Mazda hopes shoppers perceive their newest addition, the company’s new sport-utility Tribute.

Set against the Ute Indian country backdrop of Robert Redford’s rustic ski resort (which is smaller and more eccentric than one would imagine from its glamorous reputation), the compact Tribute ES model, the top of its line, looked very much at home next to Toyota RAV4s, Honda CR-Vs, Nissan Xterras and other vehicles in this largest segment of the SUV market.

Reasonably rugged but without buffalo bars or heavy roof racks, the Tribute’s appearance seems a bit too civilized for off-roading. But after climbing and descending a twisty half-mile dirt trail on part of a 6,100-ft high Traverse Mountain range that had a steep and rutted 58-percent grade, it has my vote as a capable SUV — as long as you recognize its limits.

Mazda may have come late to the SUV market, but company executives believe the trend is here to stay. Though it may have peaked, they say, people will keep purchasing SUVs for a long time to come.

2001 Mazda Tribute side

2001 Mazda Tribute side

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It has taken an incredible ten years from concept to showroom for Mazda to create the Tribute. During that time they learned many lessons from other manufacturers’ SUVs, particularly from its partner, Ford, and determined that buyers want passenger-car ride and comfort, sport sedan performance and the functionality and versatility of an SUV.

This is not quite as tall an order to accomplish these days since many competitive makes lay claim to offering similar attributes. Mazda’s version, however, has the advantage of not being a truck-based SUV. It has gone one better with a lightweight car-like monococque construction, sharp, precise steering, a 200-horsepower V-6 engine and upscale features normally found in more expensive, luxury-class SUVs. Unlike truck-based sport-utes, the Tribute, in two-wheel drive mode, drives its front wheels to achieve top traction and fuel economy. The optional four-wheel drive system (priced around $1500) comes into play by transferring power to all four wheels to grip slippery pavement or uneven surfaces. All for under $20,000.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015
2003 Mazda Tribute SUV 3.0L Automatic LX

Until One Of Us Dies

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Bought and as rated above, only pleased.... including getting 23 mpg in city driving and about 28 in the little bit of highway I drive...with living in house on Tampa Bay & with mad growing Florida greenery... + More »
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Saturday, April 18, 2015
For 2003 Mazda Tribute SUV

Reliable and useful vehicle.

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My 2003 Mazda Tribute is a nice vehicle. It is a very useful and convenient size with a lot of nice features. Mine has a V6 in it and I get 23 mpg driving mostly highway speeds with some city driving mixed in... + More »
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016
2002 Mazda Tribute SUV 3.0L Automatic ES

A good SUV and the perfect size for 2.

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The Mazda has done everything we have needed it to do. We did have to replace the transmission after the trans cooler ruptured in the radiator and I understand we were not the first to experience this. We have... + More »
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