Used Mazda Tribute 4x4 2001 - 2004 review

Category: Large SUV

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

Mazda Tribute 4x4 (01 - 04)
  • Mazda Tribute 4x4 (01 - 04)
  • Mazda Tribute 4x4 (01 - 04)
Used Mazda Tribute 4x4 2001 - 2004 review
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Steve Huntingford
Published01 January 2006

What's the used Mazda Tribute 4x4 like?

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.


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

  • The Tribute offers a reasonable blend of practicality and equipment
  • There's no diesel, it's not great off-road and refinement could be better

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.

Ownership cost

What used Mazda Tribute 4x4 will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mazda Tribute 4x4?

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Mazda Tribute 4x4 should I buy?

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.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Mazda Tribute 4x4?