Mazda. Mmmmmmmazda. Maz-Daaaaa! What do I think of when someone says Mazda? What does Mazda evoke? I can remember jingles, catch phrases, mottos, logos, and the images the cars project. I like to think this is not indicative of my moldable, mushy brain, but rather my awareness of marketing tactics. In any case, instead of remembering "Zoom-Zoom," like Mazda currently wants me to, I usually remember that Mazda marketing jingle from my youth. You know the one, don't you? "Sakes alive, sakes alive, the Mazda something something for just fifty-seven ninety-fiiiiiive!" I want Zoom-Zoom because the song is better, but Sakes Alive just sticks. Anyway, I look to the 2006 Mazda Tribute to get me back on board with Zoom-Zoom, and to plant an image in my head about Mazda in general.

The Tribute is a small, good-looking-yet-not-remarkable SUV. Two Latch connectors, three tethers, airbags, side curtain airbags, cruise control, A/C, 6-CD in-dash changer, fog lamps, and power windows, locks and seats. It has what I need. I can only fit two kids in child car seats back there, though. The black and grey marbled interior trim is a little um ... cheap-looking. But the dash and the rest of the compartments are pretty clean and make up for this digression in aesthetics. It's comfortable, basic, and I start to enjoy my Mazda test-drive.

Why? Well, it's because I don't bonk my head or my kids' heads on the door when I put them in their car seats; because my children can look out the window, and enjoy being "so much up high!" as my son puts it; because the cupholders are good for all sizes of beverages, even though I think they should be relocated in front of the gearshift, rather than behind it so I don't whack the beverages when using the gearshift. I also like the general overall interior size. It is car-ish inside, allowing me to reach the kids if I need to, or my purse on the passenger seat. I don't feel like I'm driving the Mazda Gigantor (not a real car), or filling it up at the pump. And the headrests are comfortable even when my hair's up. It's such a girl thing, but I'm a mom and my hair is up 97% of the time.

Here's the hitch. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want a small SUV but maybe just a little bit bigger than the Tribute. I'd love a place for my purse. I'd love bigger, better storage compartments. There are little ones in the driver and passenger doors, but none in the back. No cup holders in the back. The small glove box has room for the manual but not much else. The cargo space fits my stroller just fine, but it's a bit daunting to do a big grocery trip because I have to stack all the bags on top of the stroller for them to fit. I hate rebagging my groceries when I get home. I guess I could put the stroller up on its side, but then it falls over and mashes the bananas. Just a little bit more space, just a couple inches to turn my stroller the long way to make room for other stuff, and we're golden.

And hey, what about visibility? It's got a big blind spot in the front corners that I have to get used to. There are big handles there that are odd and annoying. One could use them to get in, I suppose. I don't think the Tribute is big enough to merit the use of these handles. Certainly they're not there to replace the dry-cleaning hooks that don't exist in the rest of the car. To the back, I can't see anything close to the vehicle. With three headrests, the bulky defrost tape on the window, two tethers going up to the roof behind the car seats, and a small window to begin with make the visibility out back like looking through a big spider web.

As for the Zoom-Zoom part, there's a bit of it in the 6-cylinder engine, a bit that takes a little coaxing to come out. That's really all I have to say about it. Sakes alive Mazda, make an impression! It's a good car, could be better, more mom-friendly. But maybe Mazda's content. There's a lot to be said for being content. In spite of its shortcomings I guess I too, am content in the Tribute.

*For more information about the Mazda Tribute and its safety features, visit


LATCH Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5


Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair


Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some