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2009 Mazda Tribute Review

The 2009 Mazda Tribute has a well-appointed interior and good fuel economy, but its poor performance lessens its appeal.

Pros & Cons

  • Good fuel economy
  • Quality interior
  • Cumbersome folding rear seats
  • Mixed performance reviews

New for 2009

  • Engines received a power boost
  • Six-speed automatic transmission added

Rankings & Research

The 2009 Mazda Tribute's #6 ranking is based on its score within the 2009 Affordable Compact SUVs category. Currently the Mazda Tribute has a score of 8.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 28 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 7.2
Interior: 7.8
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.4
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 Mazda Tribute Overview

Sharing a platform with the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner, the 2009 Mazda Tribute wasn’t well-liked by most reviewers. For 2009, Mazda added a six-speed automatic transmission and upgraded its engines. As a result, reviewers thought that the Tribute had adequate power, but still couldn’t keep up with better performers, like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Reviews on the Tribute’s handling were mixed. Some reviewers said it is comfortable and corners well, while others said the ride is uncomfortably rough and the handling subpar. On the plus side, the Tribute has good fuel economy from its base model, at 23 mpg combined city/highway.

When it was new, reviewers thought the Tribute had comfortable front seats. While they felt that overall rear-seat space is good, some reviewers complained that the back seats are a bit too flat to be comfortable. Like the performance, reviews of the Tribute’s controls were mixed. Some reviewers disliked the way that controls blended into the dashboard, making them hard to distinguish. Others thought they were easy to use and well-placed. Standard features on the Tribute include cruise control, automatic headlights and a four-speaker CD player system with an auxiliary audio input. Higher trims come equipped with a seven-speaker sound system, heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver seat. Cargo space inside the Tribute is class-competitive, but reviewers thought folding the rear seats for maximum cargo space was cumbersome.

See the full 2009 Mazda Tribute specs »

Other Cars to Consider

Based on the same platform, the 2009 Ford Escape is a solid alternative to the Tribute. While they have comparable safety scores and fuel economy, the Escape is a better performer.

With a spacious interior, the highly-ranked 2009 Toyota RAV4 is a smart choice for a used compact SUV. With the RAV4, you gain a more-powerful base engine that delivers better performance and fuel economy.

Compare the Tribute to the Escape and RAV4 »

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