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2008 Mazda Tribute – Still Great Crossover SUV

OK, the Mazda Tribute has been around for years. Mazda has practically forgotten about it. There is very little advertising for the Tribute especially since Mazda has its more modern and upscale CX-7 and CX-9 Crossover SUVs to pitch. Because Tribute lives in the shadows of its “more important” brethren it is easy to forget about it. That’s a shame, because the Tribute is a fine Crossover SUV overall, with only a few warts that could be corrected with very little investment or cost.

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Mazda Tribute Derived From Ford Escape – Sweet Spot Among Crossover SUVs
Over the years, AutoPacific has had Ford Escape Crossover SUVs in product clinic research. Since introduction the Escape and its derivatives – the Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute – have represented the sweet spot among small to mid-size Crossover SUVs. Easy to live with, easy to get into and out of, good interior package. Wow. Very well thought-out and executed. Ford knew the solution to the SUV equation when they developed the Escape and Mazda benefits.
One of the advantages of the new 2008 Mazda Tribute and the 2008 versions of the Escape and Mariner are that they have more differentiation than they have ever had before. You can actually tell which is a Mazda, Ford or Mercury at a glance.
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Not big, not small, the Tribute is a handy size. Easy to maneuver. Easy to see out of. Reasonably large rear seat and usable cargo area. All product attributes that measure up to a pleasant and affordable package. For a bit over $23,000 this Mazda Tribute is an excellent value.
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Nitpicks – NVH and V6 Finesse
What are the problems? Well, there needs to be some work done on engine noise and road noise. Not insurmountable problems. The venerable 3.0L V6 engine pleasant around town but thrashy when pushed. I’d love to drive a Tribute with Ford’s new 3.5L V6, but that’s not in the cards.
No Passion? But Would Make a Great Car for a Young Driver
What did the office say? Of course, folks around the AutoPacific and VehicleVoice offices have strong opinions about vehicles like the Tribute. One gray hair contended that when describing all the virtues of the Tribute the one word that was not mentioned was “passion” or and other word “enthusiasm”. True enough, but the Tribute, overall can be a very persuasive package without being headturning or making your blood run hot.
Others in the office observed that the Tribute would make a great vehicle for a teenager just out of high school and going off to college. The Tribute has enough room for the driver and a few friends plus the cargo room to carry their stuff. In fact, my high school buddy Bill Spiers in Metarie, Louisiana just bought one for his youngest daughter as a graduation present. She was pleased to say the least.
Also, as Bill learned, the Tribute can be found with tremendous discounts that make buying a Mazda a much better deal than a Honda CR-V or a Toyota RAV4.


  • Bill Spiers| August 11, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    My daughter’s Tribute now has 3500 miles on the odometer and has been the source of a lot of smiles for her. She likes the peppy suspension and V-6 acceleration. The gas mileage is in the acceptable range, but not fantastic. I can however, afford a lot of gas for the price I paid for it compared to the CR-V I had planned to buy. My sister-in-law liked the Tribute enough to buy a 2008 model with a 4 cyl and a few bells and whistles. Thanks, George for the advice on the Tribute. I expect this to be a dependable vehicle for her to take to college.

  • Mr.Vent| July 20, 2007 at 1:39 am

    What I like from this car is its peppy performance, good fuel economy, and excellent visibility all the way around the car. The Tribute has the ride and handling of a much smaller sports car. But I don’t like is the second-row seat because its really difficult to fold down to extend the cargo floor.

  • Tamika| June 20, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I have seen Mazda Tribute on the road but just a few compared to Ford Escape. One notable difference of Mazda Tribute from Ford Escape/Maverick is its suspension which is tuned for a firmer ride than the latter to correspond with Mazda’s sporty image. There are few changes made to this 2008 Mazda Tribute like its tail gate which will have a new Mazda tail gate handle, headlamps and new grille design.

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