Monday, January 21, 2013

Used Car Review - Mazda Tribute (2004-2009)

A new week had started and Myk Belmonte treats you by dissecting out a bargain and explains why is it a steal.

2004-2009 Mazda Tribute

Mazda has been using the "zoom-zoom" corporate philosophy for some time now, and to relate things, Mazda vehicles were infused with sports car genes. We all know that they built the popular Mazda MX-5 Miata and the rotary engine powered RX-7, and they even decided to extend it to the 3 and 6 sedans. But how about the Tribute compact SUV, is it sporty enough? We'll see in this review.

Basically the twin of the Ford Escape from day one, this is Mazda's first SUV (the Navajo is basically a rebadged Ford Explorer) which was based on the Mazda 626 sedan. In fact, the Escape and the more luxurious Mercury Mariner were based from the Mazda. The main difference between the Escape is that the suspension is more tuned for a firmer ride to fit in with Mazda's sporty image. All models are the same until 2007, with a refresh that separated North American models with the one being offered in the Asia-Pacific areas. The Tribute was phased out in 2010 for the Asia-Pacific regions and 2011 in North America.

Arriving two years later after the Escape, the Mazda brethren (together with the 3 and 6 sedans) were launched in correspondence to the brand's comeback under Ford Group Philippines. It received a mid cycle refresh in 2007 together with the rest of Asia-Pacific and discontinued in 2009, with the CX-7 replacing it.

Value and Costs
If you decide to purchase a second hand Tribute, prices for these units range from P320,000-P600,000. In fact, you can also spot Ford Escapes of the same period flirting in these prices, but the added bonus of the Mazda is you get a firmer suspension for a sporty ride. Majority of the units you'll spot in the classifieds are mostly the 4-cylinder models, while the 6 would rarely appear.

Mechanical parts are similar to the Ford Escape, especially if you decide to either go with the 4 cylinder or the V6. However, you may easily purchase parts for the 2.3 models due to sales reasons. Cost of maintenance are similar to its peers which utilizes regular fuel. There are minor problems so better have them fixed before signing the contract.

Exterior and Interior
If the Ford Escape carries a rugged design, the Tribute is somewhat bland and forgettable, especially that the two share the same shell. Checking out the exterior design of the 2007 models, at least it has a character but not a standout against a sea of competitors. While scouting for units, you'll encounter Tributes with single tone or a two-tone paint scheme. The grille and headlamps are reshaped in the refresh which gives it a distinction from the Ford counterpart.

Same could be said with the interior, as it shares with the Escape. I imagined while assembling the Tribute, they took the Ford's body, remove the cladding, and add Mazda badges, presto! But in 2007, the interior was redesigned and given enough distance from the Ford (not anymore resembling the Escape) and the column shifter was relocated to the floor (previous ones had it behind the steering wheel). Enough of nit-picking, the Tribute is one comfortable SUV to be in, rear visibility is excellent, and interior room is excellent.

From 2004-2006, buyers had a chance to fit their brand new Tributes with either a L3-VE 2,261cc 4-cylinder with 157hp at 6,000rpm and 203Nm at 4,500rpm or a AJ 2,967cc V6 that has 204hp at 6,000rpm and 276Nm at 4,750rpm. However, come 2007-2009 the V6 was dropped from the line-up and the 2.3 engine remained with no changes. The 4-cylinder engine is a lively companion and does the job well while the V6 is a joy to drive, but at the expense of fuel. Do take note that electronic throttle control is standard in Tributes in 2007.

Driving Impressions
Despite the presence of a stiff suspension for a "sportier" drive, the Tribute feels more like the Escape in the first models. On the twisties, it exhibits some body roll; on the expressways, it shows the comfortable side. But in the mid-cycle refresh, the Tribute now possess a character of its own by possessing a quicker reaction from the start, and a firm ride but the vehicle is planted firmly on the ground. Between the Escape and the Tribute, the latter consumes less fuel.

While the Ford Escape is reserved for those who wanted a comfortable ride, the Mazda Tribute chooses its driver, the one who likes the thrill of the drive. A good bargain especially if you need a practical vehicle that can fit four people and their baggage.

The Good:
  • Spacious interior
  • A great bargain for used car prices
  • More kit than the Escape
The Bad:
  • Not sporty as advertised
  • Lacks soul
  • No 4WD option
The Pick: 2007-2009 models

Engines: 2,261cc L3-VE I4 and 2,967cc AJ V6 gasoline
Power: 157hp @ 6,000rpm (2.3), 204hp @ 6,000rpm (3.0)
Torque: 203Nm @ 4,500rpm (2.3), 276Nm @ 4,750rpm (3.0)
Fuel Consumption: 6-8km/L (city), 7-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link (2004-2006), rear independent dual-link strut (2007-2009)

Price (New): P1,029,000-P1,275,000 (range from 2004-2009)
Price (Now): P320,000-P600,000
Rivals: Chevrolet Captiva, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Toyota RAV4
On Sale: 2004-2009

Mazda Quezon Avenue - (02) 712-3355
Mazda Greenhills - (02) 722-1102
Mazda Alabang - (02) 772-3618

Photo from

1 comment:

  1. Impressive article! This is great and wonderful car, it has the best engine and have a higher quality. I learn a lot for this article, it shared many things about Mazda Tribute. Keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays.