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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Tribute offers a reasonable blend of practicality and equipment

Against There's no diesel, it's not great off-road and refinement could be better

Verdict It's better on-road than off, but it's not particularly impressive anywhere

Go for… 2.0 GSi 4WD

Avoid… 3.0 V6 auto 4WD

Mazda Tribute 4x4
  • 1. There's plenty of space in the cabin, and the Tribute makes a decent family car
  • 2. Fuel economy's not great: a 4WD Tribute does 29mpg, but the RAV4 does 3mpg more
  • 3. Despite the car’s off-road image, it’s more at home on the road, although it’s not that great there
  • 4. With 60/40 split/folding rear seats, the Tribute's already good boot can be made bigger still
  • 5. The cabin is bland and unappealing, but there are no complaints about how it's laid out
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Mazda Tribute 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The Mazda Tribute was jointly developed with the Ford Maverick, and shares the same two petrol engines: a 2.0-litre or 3.0-litre V6 with a standard automatic gearbox. Uniquely for a car of this age, there are two- and four-wheel-drive versions of the 2.0-litre car.

Despite the car’s off-road image, it’s more at home on the road, although it’s not that great there. Despite good steering and a decent ride, there’s too much body roll.

The Tribute’s cabin borrows much from the Maverick’s, which is good and bad news. Good because it’s all well laid out and easy to use; bad because it’s terribly bland and unappealing.

At least the driving position is good, and there’s plenty of room in the front. Headroom is a little tighter in the back, but with plenty of storage in the cabin and a good-sized boot and 60/40 split rear seats, the Tribute can make a decent family car.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Has to be cheap to be worth it

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Given the Tribute’s at its best on Tarmac, you may expect the 2WD model to be our favourite, but no. The 2WD only came in basic GXi trim, so it’s worth spending the extra for the plusher GSi, which (in addition to four-wheel drive) added the likes of alloy wheels, an electric sunroof and a CD player to the air-con, airbags and anti-lock brakes of the GXi.

When the car was new, jumping from GXi to GSi would have cost you £2000, but the gap has narrowed considerably now they're on the used market. Plus, with the extra driven wheels, you also gain some useful extra versatillity.

The V6 comes with its own unique trim level over and above even GSi, and includes an automatic gearbox, CD changer and leather upholstery. However, it costs significantly more to buy than the 2.0-litre versions, as well as more to fuel, service and insure.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Anonymous so interest is low. Avoid V6 as 2.0 GXI will do

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The most obvious car to compare the Tribute to is the Maverick, with which it shares so much. And, unsurprisingly, the two cost almost the same to buy and run.

The insurance and fuel costs for the 2.0-litre versions also look pretty good next to the Land Rover Freelander's. However, if you compare them with cars such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, which are designed more for road use, it’s not so good. A 4WD Tribute does 29mpg, whereas the RAV4 does 3mpg more.

The V6 is much more expensive in every way – fuel, servicing and insurance – but the real problem with the Tribute is that there was never a diesel version.

If you ever need unscheduled work on your Tribute, it should be pretty cheap. Warranty Direct says labour rates are typically among the lowest at Mazda dealers, and the average total cost of repairs is also very low.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Has to be cheap to be worth it

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The Tribute was not on sale for very long as a new car in the UK, and relatively few were sold, so it’s not that easy to form a complete picture of whether there are any consistent problems. However, owners are almost all very positive about the car’s reliability, and Mazda cars generally do pretty well in our surveys.

Figures from Warranty Direct consistently put them among the most reliable models and in the past Mazda has finished top in our Reliability Survey for four years, only dropping to second place in 2005.

The Tribute has never been included in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but if the experience of other Mazda owners is anything to go by, you should have nothing to fear. Mazda may not consistently figure alongside the other Japanese brands at the top of the table, but the company is always in the top half of the table at least.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Anonymous so interest is low. Avoid V6 as 2.0 GXI will do

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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