Just a month or so after its Ford Escape and Escape Hybrid brethren debuted, Mazda has introduced the 2008 Tribute Hybrid. It's gotten some styling tweaks, including a new grille and interior, plus a rear window that now looks more like the Escape's.
The outside of the Tribute Hybrid (and presumably the next conventional Tribute as well) didn't get as much of a face-lift as the Escape did. The grille loses its crossbar, and the Mazda logo has moved up, while the headlights and taillights are new. Fog lights are standard for both trim levels — the Touring and the Grand Touring. The windows taper and ascend toward the rear, in line with what many smaller SUVs are doing these days.
The Tribute still has seating for five, and there's a center console storage compartment that Mazda says is big enough to hold a laptop. The rear seat is split 60/40, and the Tribute has just shy of 30 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats up; it's 66 cubic feet with them down. The rear window opens independent of the liftgate if you just need to toss your stuff into the back.
Under the Hood
Mazda says the Tribute's hybrid drivetrain allows the SUV to run solely on electricity up to 25 mph, which would make it one of the least-polluting cars available, according to the automaker. The Tribute makes a combined 155 horsepower and uses a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The Tribute gets front airbags that can sense the weight of occupants and how far the driver is sitting from the steering wheel, allowing the airbags to deploy with the appropriate amount of force. The Tribute's standard side airbags are built into the seats, not the doors, to better protect occupants no matter where the seat is, Mazda says. Side curtain airbags and antilock brakes are standard.