Compact SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,700 – $19,000*

2001 Mazda Tribute

2001 Mazda Tribute

2001 Mazda Tribute interior

2002 Mazda Tribute

2002 Mazda Tribute interior

  • Cargo room
  • Control layout (2001-03)
  • Noise

Solid, substantial feeling, roomy, comfortable, and even fun to drive, the Tribute and its Escape cousin rank as compact SUV all-stars. They are also eminently sensible alternatives to any number of midsize SUVs, especially truck-based wagons, which are less efficient in their use of space and fuel. Stay away from troublesome 4-cylinder models.


Mazda’s first sport-utility vehicle since the old Explorer-based Navajo was a slightly upscale version of the also-new Ford Escape. With an available V6 engine, it offered more power than a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, or similar compact SUVs.

Both the Tribute and the Escape were manufactured at a Ford plant, on a new purpose-designed Mazda platform but using Ford-sourced powertrains. The two makes used different styling and suspension settings. Like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, Tribute had carlike unibody construction and a fully independent suspension.

The base DX four-cylinder edition came only with manual shift, using the same engine as Ford’s Focus. Mazda borrowed the 3.0-liter V6 from the midsize Ford Taurus, making it optional for the DX and standard in the LX and ES. Only a four-speed automatic transmission was available with V6 power.

Tributes came with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, which lacked low-range gearing but had a dashboard switch that locked in a 50/50 front-rear torque split. All-wheel drive automatically directed up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels, if front-wheel slippage occurred.

Standard wheels were 16-inch, and the rear liftgate had a separately-opening hatch window. LX and ES Tributes could have optional antilock braking and front side airbags, and came with 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks. The ES also was fitted with leather upholstery.

Yearly Updates

2002 Tribute
Interior revisions keynoted 2002 changes for Mazda’s compact SUV.
In addition to redesigned front seats, the interior modifications included reshaped steering-column transmission and wiper levers, intended to improve access to dashboard controls. LX and ES models also gained steering-wheel audio controls.
2003 Tribute
Antilock braking became standard on the top-of-the-line ES for 2003. Still optional for the LX, ABS was unavailable on the DX model. Otherwise, the only notable changes were minor interior cosmetic revisions.
2004 Tribute
No new changes were made to the Tribute this year.
2005 Tribute
Mazda’s compact SUV gets more 4-cyl power and added safety features, including available curtain side airbags, for 2005. The engine grows to a 2.3-liter 153-hp 4-cyl. ABS, previously an option, is standard for ’05. Newly optional for s models are head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows.
2006 Tribute
There were no significant changes for the Tribute in 2006.
2007 Tribute
Tribute skipped the 2007 model year.
2008 Tribute
Tribute returned for 2008 with freshened styling. Added for sale in California was a gas/electric Hybrid model that came in Touring and Grand Touring trim. Hybrids paired a 133-hp 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor and didn’t require plug-in charging.
2009 Tribute
Tributes received a power boost for 2009. The i models got a 171-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder to replace a 153-hp 2.3-liter engine. The s models’ 3.0-liter V6 gained 40 hp for 240 total. Hybrids, still sold only in California, got a 153-hp 2.5-liter four that replaced a 133-hp 2.3-liter version.
2010 Tribute
The 2010 Mazda Tribute saw no major changes.
2011 Tribute
The 2011 Mazda Tribute is largely unchanged.


transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

DX models used a four-cylinder dual-overhead-cam engine that produced 130 horsepower and came only with a five-speed manual gearbox. A 3.0-liter V6 went into the DX V6, LX and ES editions, developing 200 hp and offered only with a four-speed automatic transmission. Tributes could have front-drive or all-wheel drive. The 4-cylinder grows to a 2.3-liter 153-hp engine in 2005. Tributes received a power boost for 2009. The i models got a 171-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder to replace a 153-hp 2.3-liter engine. The s models’ 3.0-liter V6 gained 40 hp for 240 total. Hybrids, still sold only in California, got a 153-hp 2.5-liter four that replaced a 133-hp 2.3-liter version.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 130
Engine Torque (lb-ft)
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/138
Engine HP 153
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 152
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc I4/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/153
Engine HP 153
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 136
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
CVT automatic


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/153
Engine HP 171
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 171
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
6-speed automatic
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 200-240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


EPA figures shown are for 4WD models.

Road Test

Tribute’s performance and accommodations mirror those of similarly equipped Escapes. No four-door compact SUV has as much power as a V6 Tribute. Therefore, V6 models are among the quickest compact SUVs, taking just 8.9 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph. More important, you get ample power for stress-free passing and merging, though some drivers might like more muscle on long upgrades. Not only is acceleration satisfying, but the automatic transmission shifts smoothly.

An extended-use AWD V6 Tribute averaged 19.5 mpg, including some long highway trips. Regular fuel is used by both engines.

Tributes and Escapes have different suspension tuning, but both feel markedly taut, without wallow or float over dips and swells at highway speeds. Some sharp bumps can register abruptly, however.

Steering and handling beat most rivals. Directional stability is impressive, even in gusty crosswinds. In fast cornering, balance and grip are quite good. As in most SUVs, the body leans and the nose plows in quick, sharp turns. Otherwise, the Tribute is balanced and confident in directional changes. The Tribute has firmer steering than an Escape, but both are exceptionally direct.

Brakes have good stopping power, but some drivers might find nosedive excessive in hard stops. Noise levels are generally acceptable, but wind noise is prominent at speed and the tires whine on coarse pavement.

Instruments and controls are legible and generally well-placed. Climate and audio controls are high, within easy reach. Early automatic-transmission shift levers interfered with the driver’s reach to the radio. The Ford-designed climate system does not allow independent control of air recirculation or air conditioning.

Tribute interiors feel slightly upscale, compared to the Escape’s. Both are solid, with attractive materials.

Seats are firm and supportive. Taller riders might want more front head room in sunroof-equipped models, but clearance is otherwise generous. The airy, comfortable cabin belies the compact SUV’s exterior dimensions. Driver views are unimpeded to sides and rear.

Not only is the Tribute more comfortable in back than any other compacts, it offers more rear knee and foot room than most midsize SUVs. The rear bench is tall and well-contoured, even at the inboard position. The floor is nearly flat, and the cabin is wide enough for three-adult comfort on short trips. Doorways are wide but step-in is higher than most compact SUVs.

Cargo room is generous. Rear seatbacks fold flat, once the headrests are removed and the seat bottoms tilted forward. The standard separate-opening rear glass is an added convenience.


Model Tested: 2001 Mazda Tribute ES AWD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 7

Total: 55


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.1 173.0 71.9 69.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
63.9 15.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.3 38.9 41.7 36.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Tribute 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Coolant leak
Description: The low coolant light may come on in vehicles with the 3.0-liter engine because the float sinks in the coolant recovery tank and a revised assembly is available. (2001)
Engine stalling
Description: During closed-throttle deceleration, the 3.0-liter engine may stall and may not illuminate the check-engine light. (2001-03)
Ignition switch
Description: The key may bind in the ignition lock when trying to start the engine unless an improved lock has been installed. (2008-10)
Rough idle
Description: When driving over 75 mph, some 2.0-liter engines may lose power then, once at idle, may run rough due to a problem with the speed limiter algorithm in the computer which should be reprogrammed. (2001)
Windshield washer
Description: Windshield washers may leak into the engine compartment unless a hose repair kit has been installed. (2008-10)
Description: All of the warning lights may come on at once and tapping the instrument panel may make them go off and, if the engine is shut down when this happens, it will not restart requiring replacement of the I.P. (2008-09)
Transmission problems
Description: The transmission may revert to limp-home mode (fifth gear) after the grade assist function unless the engine control module software was upgraded. (2009-10)
Check-engine light
Description: The transmission may revert to limp-home mode (fifth gear) after the grade assist function unless the engine control module software was upgraded. (2009-10)

Recall History

2001 Tribute 2WD w/o antilock brakes
Description: Improper rear hubs may cause rear wheels to separate from vehicle.
2001 Tribute w/cruise control
Description: The speed-control cable can have a cracked or missing servo cap. Over time, corrosion could interfere with the function of the speed control.
2001 Tribute
Description: O-ring seats in the fuel line might be damaged, causing an odor or fire.
2001 Tribute
Description: Windshield-wiper linkage can disengage, resulting in possible loss of wiper function.
2001 Tribute
Description: Owner’s manuals do not indicate which seats are equipped child-restraint anchorages.
2001 Tribute
Description: Incorrect steering wheel nut can lead to steering-wheel separating from steering column.
2001 Tribute
Description: Seatbelt latch function could be affected by a faulty post, resulting in a release of the buckle under stress.
2001 Tribute
Description: Certain liftgates serviced with 2004-equivalent components fail to comply with requirements; if liftgate is left unlocked, it could open during a crash.
2001-03 Tribute
Description: On 3.0L V6 Duratec engines the engine may stall during deceleration at speeds below 40 mph.
2001-03 Tribute w/V6 engine
Description: Engine may stall during deceleration.
2001-04 Tribute w/ABS
Description: The ABS module connector may have missing or dislodged wire seals. This condition could allow contamination to enter the module connector, creating a potential for an electrical short.
2001-2002 Tribute
Description: Brake master cylinder reservoir cap can leak brake fluid, potentially corroding the electrical connector and leading to melting, smoking, or fire.
2001-2006 Tribute with 3.0L V6
Description: Inadequate clearance between engine cover and speed-control cable could result in a stuck throttle, resulting in very high speeds and difficulty slowing or stopping the vehicle.
2002-04 Tribute
Description: Accelerator cable may prevent throttle from returning to idle position.
2005 Tribute w/o side curtain airbags or moon roof
Description: The free motion head form registered a measurement above the permitted limit at the left hand A-pillar trim area, indicating person injury in a crash.
2006 Tribute
Description: Windshield wiper motor may not be greased properly, resulting in a loss of wiper function.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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