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 like heaven on wheels.
The Escape's refinement
made it such a success that car, truck and SUV buyers snapped it up, and
suddenly every other carmaker had their own car-based SUV to compete
with it. That's the problem.
Today I'm driving a
Mazda Tribute, essentially a clone of the Ford Escape, and instead of
thinking it's smooth and quiet, I think it's rough, bouncy and noisy.
It's not that the Tribute has gotten worse; it's that all its
competitors have simply gotten better.
Mazda is trying to eke
out a few more drops of life from this mini-SUV by giving it a new skin,
but its guts remain essentially the same. The new body and interior
styling both look nice and should draw some more interest to its aging,
yet still respectable, basic design.
Compared to Mazda's
newer, award-winning SUVs, the CX-7 and CX-9, the Tribute looks more
boxy and traditional, which isn't bad. It definitely looks tougher than
those bulbous Mazda’s and would seem more at home in the woods than in
It feels tougher, too.
While it's not designed for serious off-road driving, the Tribute still
has the meaty, hefty feel and high, upright driving position of an SUV.
While newer crossover designs are certainly more light and car-like in
their driving feel, which makes me happy, other people may like the
Tribute's classic SUV grunt. It's a matter of taste.
In addition to the
restyled body and slick new interior, the Tribute gets some new standard
safety features including side-impact air bags and curtains, stability
control, traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Mazda also streamlined
the trim options for 2008. Now you have three simple choices: the basic
Sport model at $19,495, the mid-level Touring Edition for $21,090, and
the luxurious Grand Touring for $23,280. And if you want a V6 engine,
that will cost roughly $1,500 more depending on the trim. Another option
will soon be the Tribute Hybrid, which is expected to cost around $3,000
more and get about 35 MPG Highway.
All Tributes come with
a well-thought-out interior. While it's not particularly roomy, there
are lots of little places to store things, including four within reach
of the driver and five within reach of the front passenger. A center
console is big enough to store a laptop and there's plenty of cargo
space in back.
One word of caution:
Mazda likes to pretend all its vehicles are worthy of the racetrack,
even its minivans, but don't believe it about the Tribute. It drives
like a run-of-the-mill SUV, and even if you were to try to have fun in
it, the traction control kicks in far too early to enjoy yourself.
Overall, I think the
Tribute is a fine vehicle for people who want the style and driving
position of a traditional SUV. For those of us who prefer the smooth,
silent, sleek crossovers, and there are a lot of us, I hope Mazda and
Ford bring the next generation Tribute to market quickly. After all, I'm
not getting any younger.
What was tested?
The 2008 Mazda Tribute S Sport with a base price of $21,555. Options on
test vehicle: None.
Total MSRP Price as
Why avoid it?
It's clearly still based on an old design that's bumpier and noisier
than its more recently designed competitors.
Why buy it? It
looks like a traditional off-road SUV, with a high seating position and
a beefy driving feel. It has a new, good-looking and well-designed
interior. The Mazda Tribute has a new body that looks fresh without
losing its traditional, muscular shape. And an all-new interior looks
nice with its contrasting color scheme and modern style. It's also well
designed with lots of storage nooks.
By Derek Price ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Car Review
provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Mazda Home Page
Column Name: Mazda
Tribute feeling its age
Topic: The 2008 Mazda
Word Count: 810
Photo Caption: The 2008
Mazda Tribute SUV
Photo Credits: Mazda
Tribute Internet Media
Series #: 2008 - 52
the Microsoft Word version here:
2008 Mazda Tribute
Download the Original Image File here:
2008 Mazda Tribute