Mazda shows Tribute rewrite in Melbourne

Mazda Australia is gettting a revamped Tribute SUV. Freshly unveiled at the Melbourne International Motor Show, the revised-for-2007 is set to go on sale later this year.

As seen here, the rather conservatively restyled front end is all-new, incorporating new clear-lens headlamps, revised grillwork with larger Mazda emblem and more prominent chrome edging, along with a fresh hood and bumper cap. New wheels, side mirrors (with turn signal repeaters), and the promise of tighter panel gaps are all welcome additions.

(More details and photographs available after the jump... be sure to click on each photo for high-resolution images!)

Perhaps the biggest change is inside, where the dashboard and interior materials have received a thorough going-over. In the main, the gearshift selector has rappelled down from the steering column and taken up residence in the center console (as is already the case in North America). Seen here in piano black trim, the center stack has been rationalized, resulting in better integration of stereo and HVAC controls, and the current Trib's decidedly downmarket polymers have given way to higher-caliber plastics. Gauge faces have changed, though the basic binnacle (and dashboard form itself) appears unchanged. In addition, the door cards are new, and though the sporty three-spoke wheel may look unfamiliar to U.S. Tribute owners, it is in fact a carryover piece for the AU market. In the back middle seat, those losing rock-paper-scissors can at least take solace in a new 3-point lap belt and headrest (a feature already on U.S.-spec Tributes).

Under the skin, both the 2.3-liter four and 3.0-liter six are now Euro III emissions compliant, and changes to the six-pot are being credited with a 10.6-percent fuel economy increase. In the braking department, rear drums have been tossed in favor of discs, and the existing front hardware has been upsized as well. Mazda is also claiming suspension improvements, though specific improvements elude.

It is as yet unclear whether U.S. Tributes will receive similar updates, but they would certainly help the aging trucklet in America's rapidly-evolving small SUV market.

[Source: Mazda AU and Global Automotive Index]

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