Loose lips sink ships, and we discovered that Mazda's got a hole in its boat big enough to drive the next generation Tribute through without being caught. Mazda shouldn't feel bad about these leaked photos and computer renderings of the 2008 Tribute and its interior (follow the jump for those), especially considering the Mercury Mariner has already been unveiled and Ford's done a terrible job so far of keeping the next Escape under wraps. So what do we have here? Pretty much what you'd expect, a virtually identical version of the Escape save for the grille, headlights, taillights, front and rear bumpers and side skirts. Unfortunately it's your basic badge engineering job on a vehicle that doesn't even need to exist in Mazda's lineup. This is the brand that's supposed to be sporty (Zoom Zoom, anyone?), so why does it need a boxy, unathletic SUV that looks like the least soulful of the three versions that will be sold to the public? It's place in the world is even more suspect when you consider that the very well-received CX-7 is a swoopy, athletic CUV with the sould of a sport compact. Common sense tells us that this next-gen Tribute probably cost next to nothing for Mazda to develop since Ford was picking up the tab on the Escape and Mariner. In our eyes, however, there are other costs involved with offering a discordant model in your lineup than the kind emblazoned with dead presidents.
Follow the jump for a rear 3/4 shot of the 2008 Tribute, along with computer renderings of the interior.
Thanks to anonymous for the tip!