2009 Mazda Tribute Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Mazda Tribute was new.


Performance: 7.2

Opinions are mixed on the 2009 Tribute's performance and powertrain, though everyone agrees that is has very good fuel economy numbers.

  • "The Mazda Tribute is a compact SUV known for its sporty handling, carlike ride, surprising V6 performance and rewarding value for the money. It's always been more of a car masquerading as a truck than vice-versa and feels nimble and sure-footed as long as you stick to the pavement." -- Edmunds
  • "Riding on the same platform on which it was introduced for the 2001 model year, the Mazda Tribute doesn't match the levels of overall refinement offered by so many of its fresher competitors." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

An increase in horsepower for 2009 should alleviate reviewers' past concerns about the Tribute's underpowered engines -- but we'll have to wait until test drives come in to know for sure. At any rate, high fuel economy is a plus. According to the EPA, the 2WD model with a four-cylinder engine and manual transmission achieves 22/28 mpg city/highway. The least efficient Tribute, the 4WD model with automatic transmission, achieves 17/24 mpg.

  • "Standard on i models is a 171-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Standard on s models is a 240-hp 3.0-liter V6. Compared to the 2008 Tribute, that's an increase of 18 hp for the 4-cylinder and 40 hp for the V6." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Reviewers are split on the Tribute's handling. Some say it's surprisingly car-like, while others find it bumpy and uncomfortable. 

  • "Like many of its compact peers, the Tribute is easy to drive and easy to live with on a daily basis. While the suspension never feels overly soft or 'floaty,' spirited cornering does elicit noticeable, but not unexpected or extreme, body lean." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Handling is respectable, with the SUV remaining flat through corners and composed in quick transitions. Ride quality is relatively smooth, making this SUV a suitable choice for commuting or hauling the family around." -- Edmunds
  • "Specifically, we were disappointed with the spongy brake-pedal feel and even spongier steering. Making matters worse were two handfuls of torque steer (ours didn't have the optional four-wheel drive), gobs of road noise, and an unbecoming susceptibility to freeway tramlining, the latter making one particular shot from L.A. to San Diego a two-hour white-knuckle experience." -- Car and Driver

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