2006 Tribute New Car Test Drive
It's a well-worn cliche, but the Mazda Tribute puts some sport in sport utility. Responsive handling and brisk performance from the available V6 engine make the Tribute one of the sportiest of the compact SUVs.
The 2005 model line was recast to complement the rest of the Mazda lineup, and little has changed with the 2006 model. The Tribute i model is available with a four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic, while the Tribute s features a powerful V6 and four-speed automatic. Both models are available with a four-wheel-drive system that uses electronics in place of a previous hydraulic system to better split power between front and rear tires according to driving conditions.
The Tribute received a more polished look for 2005 and it continues without alteration, as its redesigned front fascia and other styling revisions already added zest to what was one of the better looking contenders in the class. The suspension had also been revised for improved handling. Available side-impact airbags and curtain airbags enhance safety.
The Mazda Tribute delivers an excellent value for drivers who want the versatility of a sport utility, but with the superior refinement and on-road handling of a car-based utility can offer. Mazda and Ford worked jointly on developing the Mazda Tribute and Ford Escape and they share much in common, but the Mazda offers sportier handling.
Mazda Tribute is available in two pairs of trim level: Tribute i 2WD ($20,115) and 4WD ($21,815), and Tribute s 2WD ($23,200) and 4WD ($24,700).
Tribute i is powered by a 153-horsepower four-cylinder engine. It comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed automatic is optional for both the 2WD ($820) and 4WD ($620) models. The Tribute s is fitted with a 200-horsepower V6 and a four-speed automatic.
Tribute i comes standard with air conditioning; power windows, mirrors and locks; remote keyless entry; tilt steering; a roof rack with cross bars; 16-inch alloy wheels; four-speaker AM/FM/CD satellite-ready stereo; rear privacy glass; delayed accessory power; two power points; and, new for 2006, electronic cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls. Seats are upholstered in cloth, the rear seat is a 60/40 split fold-down bench, and there's full carpeting and front and rear floor mats.
The s model adds fog lights, upgraded cloth trimmed seats, an upgraded driver's seat with adjustable lumbar, and sundry appearance items.
Options for both i and s include a cassette player ($200), an in-dash six-disc CD changer ($500), a DVD entertainment system ($1,200), various cargo area accessories, a perimeter alarm ($115), side step tubes ($400), color-keyed door edge guards ($70), all-weather floor mats ($40); compass and outside temperature gauge and auto-dimming rearview mirror ($230 and $300 with Homelink); moonroof deflector ($50); rear bumper step plate ($50); rear spoiler ($300); and wheel locks ($40). Some of these options are not available with certain packages.
A Premium option package ($1,610) for Tribute i automatic features leather-trimmed seats, a six-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lamps, overhead console with storage bins, illuminated vanity mirrors, maple-look wood-grain center stack and center console, painted bumpers, lower body-side and wheel-arch trim, and body-colored mirrors. The s is available with any one of three option packages: The first ($1,480) adds six-way power driver's seat, seven-speaker premium audio with six-disc in-dash CD changer, power moonroof and retractable cargo cover and a single overhead storage bin; the second package ($1,745) adds to the first leather-trimmed upholstery, the black-maple-look wood-grain center stack and console and leather-wrapped steering wheel; the third package ($2,595) adds heated front seats and outside mirrors to the contents of the other two packages. The s is also available with a Class II trailer tow package ($350) consisting of a frame-mounted trailer hitch with 3,500-pound capacity and wiring harness. A Preferred Equipment group ($175) adds a cargo net, cargo tray, rear bumper step plate and wheel locks.
Safety features that come standard include anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. Side-impact airbags, designed to provide torso protection for driver and front-seat passenger, and curtain airbags ($565), designed to offer head protection, are available only on the Tribute s models.