2004 Mazda Tribute

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$18,797

starting MSRP

2004 Mazda Tribute

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Easy-to-manage size
  • Maneuverability
  • V-6 performance
  • Four-cylinder fuel economy
  • Crash-test ratings

The bad:

  • Noise
  • Short seat bottoms
  • Occasional floatiness
  • ABS not standard
  • Lack of Low-range gearing

3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2004 Mazda Tribute trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Carlike driving feel
  • Available 4WD
  • Compact dimensions
  • Sporty suspension tuning

2004 Mazda Tribute review: Our expert's take

Vehicle Overview
Ford owns a controlling interest in Mazda, so there’s a close kinship between the popular Ford Escape sport utility vehicle and the related Mazda Tribute. Both SUVs were introduced for the 2001 model year. Subtle styling differences between the two are noticeable, their interior features are not the same, and the Tribute has different suspension settings.

Claimed to be the sportier member of the pair, Mazda’s car-based SUV has been attracting considerable interest even if its sales lag well behind the Escape. Both models compete against such rivals as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Nothing has changed for 2004, but an updated Tribute is expected in the spring. The Tribute is available in DX, LX V6 and upscale ES V6 trim levels and with front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The Tribute and Escape aren’t considered to be truly offroad capable.

Exterior
The Tribute has the same overall shape as the Escape, but the Tribute features unique exterior trim and a different grille, front fascia and headlamps. Both exhibit a conventional small-SUV profile, and their dimensions are similar. The Tribute sits on a 103.1-inch wheelbase and measures 173 inches long overall; that’s nearly 7 inches longer than the RAV4. Standing 69.9 inches tall, the four-door Tribute has a rear liftgate that includes a flip-up window. A fully independent suspension and 16-inch tires are installed.

Interior
The Tribute carries five people on twin bucket seats up front and a three-place rear seat. The 60/40-split, folding rear seat on the LX and ES models expands cargo room from approximately 17 cubic feet to a more useful 63.9 cubic feet. Leather upholstery and a power driver’s seat are standard on the top-of-the-line ES model.

Under the Hood
Mazda and Ford offer the same powertrain choices for their comparable SUVs. The standard engine in the DX is a 130-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and a 200-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 is equipped in all LX and ES models. A five-speed-manual transmission is the sole gearbox available with the four-cylinder engine, while a four-speed automatic teams with the V-6. The Tribute may be equipped with front-wheel drive or a Ford four-wheel-drive system that engages automatically but has no Low-range gearing.

Safety
Antilock brakes are standard on the ES and optional on the LX. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are optional on those upper models.

Driving Impressions
Mazda’s small SUV creates mixed reactions, but its sporty nature earns the highest marks. The Tribute is noisier than some of its rivals. One example emitted a low growl from its driveline while accelerating at low speeds, as if sound insulation was lacking. In addition, a touchy gas pedal made it difficult to start off smoothly.

The Tribute’s energetic throttle response is satisfying. Automatic-transmission shifts are barely noticeable, and downshifts for passing and merging come swiftly. The Tribute steers with a somewhat light touch. It handles adeptly but sometimes displays a floating sensation that makes the driver feel less than fully connected to the highway.

Ride comfort is pleasing on the highway, but wavy pavement produces substantial up-and-down motion. Coping ably with bumps and holes, the Tribute exhibits no raucous behavior.

 

Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com;
Posted on 8/27/03

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.0
  • Interior design 3.9
  • Performance 4.3
  • Value for the money 4.3
  • Exterior styling 4.3
  • Reliability 4.1

Most recent consumer reviews

4.4

Reliable car

I bought a used Mazda Tribute 2004 4wd with 175000 miles for my teen daughter. So far everything is great had it check out its in great shape. There some squeaky sound with the suspension, later will see if we need to replace the shocks. But every thing else is great!.

4.4

Good older vehicle

Plenty of room and plenty of power, bought this used, so far so good. I had an 06 Saturn, this one has much more room in it.

2.1

bought new 6 cylinder fully loaded.

Gently driven , changed oil every 3 k miles ect, planned to keep. After about 2 years the paint started coming off above the rear window. ,interior door panel covering came loose, radio knob broke ect. What finally did it was the engine started running rough and the ding, ding, ding of a door open would sound for no reason. Took it to the dealer 1800 for a new computer, lasted for awhile then started being possessed again. 1200 more bucks to just get it running enough to sell on e-bay. Wouldn't wish this car on my worse enemy. Buy a Toyota or Honda if you want quality.

See all 16 consumer reviews

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