Mazda Tribute Mililani HI
2004 Mazda Tribute Compact Sport Utility Vehicle
By Sandra Kinsler and Brian Leshon
New Car Review of the 2004 Mazda Tribute Compact Sport Utility Vehicle.
Description: Compact SUV
Options & Features
The SUV from a company steeped in the production of fun-to-drive cars is a so-called crossover wagon for the compact class. Mazda promotes it as a sport-ute reared by a family of sports cars. The claim comes from the fact that Tribute differs from the typical lumbering hulk of a sport-utility box built on the platform of a RWD truck. Instead, it rides on the chassis of a FWD sedan and carries lively independent suspension elements and crisp rack and pinion steering to fashion a nimble wagon.
All power from Tribute's four-cylinder or V6 engine goes directly to the wheels in front -- the ones that also steer. This ability of front wheels to both turn and steer the wagon makes it quite agile, and entirely predictable.
Another unique feature is Tribute's monocoque platform, a structure that integrates frame and body to forge a single unit that's extremely rigid when set to the dynamics of motion.
Tribute first appeared in Mazda's line of 2001 but returns this year without change. Tribute's models show three trim variations and each is available in FWD or optional all-wheel-drive (AWD). Tribute DX is the price leader with standard features including a four-cylinder engine, roof rack, tachometer, tilting steering wheel, and power windows with one-touch down for driver's window. Tribute LX adds a V6 and upgraded cloth seat fabric, while deluxe ES has leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and power-motivated driver's seat. The frugal engine for Tribute DX is Ford's twin-cam 2.0-liter four-cylinder Zetec plant that hits 130...
2008 Mazda Tribute Compact Sport Utility Vehicle
It's clearly still based on an old design that's bumpier and noisier than its more recently designed competitors.
What was tested? 2008 Mazda Tribute S Sport ($21,555).
Price as tested: $21,555.
Pros: It looks like a traditional off-road SUV, with a high seating position and beefy driving feel. It has a new, good-looking and well-designed interior.
Cons: It's clearly still based on an old design that's bumpier and noisier than its more recently designed competitors.
It has a new, good-looking and well-designed interior.
There comes a point in every person's life when they realize they're no longer young.
For me, that moment came when I heard a Nirvana song playing as background music at Wal-Mart. Hearing Kurt Cobain wailing while people shopped for their deodorant and ground beef, I instantly knew I was on my way to becoming an old man.
But pop culture isn't the only way to tell. Some new cars do the exact same thing.
When the Ford Escape first came out around eight years ago, I remember being absolutely amazed at how quiet and smooth it drove. It was one of the first car-based SUVs on the market, and -- compared to the traditional truck-frame SUVs -- it was heaven on wheels. The Escape's refinement made it such a success that buyers snapped it up, and suddenly every other car maker had their own car-based SUV to compete with it.
That's the problem.
It's not that the Tribute has gotten worse; it's that all its competitors have simply gotten better.
Today I'm driving a Mazda Tribute -- essentially a clone of the Escape -- and instead of thinking it's smooth and quiet, I think it's rough, bouncy and noisy. It's no...