2011 Mazda Tribute

2011 Mazda Tribute Review: Affordable Family Hauler

by Deiondre van der Merwe

The Mazda Tribute is not a shoddy SUV by any measure, but it is a little long in the tooth in comparison to its competitors in the US. Sharing a platform with the Ford Escape, the Tribute offers the choice between three powertrains, the strongest one being the 3.0-liter V6 that produces 240 horsepower. The bulky family hauler is available in a wide variety of configurations, making it likely that you will find the right one for you. It may not be the worst option, but the competition is fierce. The contenders against the Mazda Tribute include the Honda CR-V, the Kia Sportage, and the Toyota RAV4.

Pros and Cons

  • Frugal fuel economy
  • Affordable prices
  • Reliability ratings are good
  • Features are respectable
  • Average safety ratings
  • Rivals have better interiors
  • Feels outdated

Best Deals on Tribute

2011 Mazda Tribute Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
i Sport
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
i Touring
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
i Grand Touring
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
s Grand Touring
3.0L V6 Flex-fuel (FFV)
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
See All 2011 Mazda Tribute Trims and Specs

Tribute Exterior

The Tribute's blocky profile, large dimensions and dated styling do not add up to a family hauler with a truly ugly exterior appearance, but there are better-looking family haulers on the market in the USA, especially because its exterior design hasn't changed in years. The width of this vehicle is measured at 81.3 inches including the mirrors, and curb weight ranges from 3,272 lbs to 3,555 lbs. Still, it is far more attractive than it used to be in the early 2000s. Halogen headlights dominate the front end and blocky taillights are found at the rear. Roof racks are standard on all specs, except the base, for extra practicality and a bike attachment can also be had. The lower fascias are fashioned from body-color metal and black plastic, and all trims sit on a set of 16-inch rims. The high-rider adopts a "function over form" attitude, and despite its generally uninteresting appearance, the lump must be praised for its reliability.

2011 Mazda Tribute Front Angle View Mazda
2011 Mazda Tribute Front Angle View 1 Mazda
2011 Mazda Tribute Rear Angle View Mazda
See All 2011 Mazda Tribute Exterior Photos

Tribute Performance

Engine and Transmission

There are a host of configurations within this lineup. Tribute trims rely on a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-pot that produces 171 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, but the six-speed automatic that comes with the V6 is optionally available. S models are powered by the most powerful mill in the range, the 3.0-liter V6 that delivers 240 hp and 223 lb-ft. HEV variants are the only ones to receive a hybrid powertrain, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder coupled with an electric motor. It sends 177 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque to a CVT.

  • Engines
    2.5L Inline-4 Gas, 3.0L V6 Flex-fuel (FFV)
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, FWD
2011 Mazda Tribute Front View Driving Mazda
2011 Mazda Tribute Side View Driving Mazda
2011 Mazda Tribute Engine Bay Mazda

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Mazda Tribute SUV was built to be durable and comfortable and, as such, does not reach top speeds in the blink of an eye. Those with the V6 equipped go from 0 to 60 mph in around 8.1 seconds according to independent testing. That is a rather slow achievement in comparison to rivals, but it'll certainly do for average daily driving. It is pleasant to drive for the most part, and comfort levels are admirable. The steering is direct and offers a good amount of road feel and the slight body roll is not enough to make one hesitant to go into corners. Still, if you're after any form of athleticism, you should look elsewhere. Performance is relatively respectable, but the V6 is a little lethargic. It is worth sticking to the smaller engines if you're after instant power. All models come with FWD, but AWD can be had on all except for the entry-level version. Despite its chunky appearance and middling handling, the Tribute deserves a test drive before you write it off.

Tribute Gas Mileage

The most frugal of the bunch by far in terms of gas mileage is the hybrid variant that returns EPA estimates of 34/30/32 mpg. That is vastly more economical than the FWD-equipped 2.5-liter's figures of 21/28/23 mpg and the AWD-equipped V6's 18/23/20 mpg figures.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    17.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 23/28 mpg
* 2011 Mazda Tribute Sport Manual FWD

Tribute Interior

When you're inside, it is hard to tell whether you're sitting in a Tribute or a Ford Escape. Interior build quality is cheap but durable, making it a fair trade. The Tribute is spacious enough to accommodate five occupants, though the front is the better place for six-footers. A tilt-only steering wheel may hinder certain drivers in finding a comfortable seating position. Seats are comfortable and supportive enough for longer journeys and lower-spec models have cloth upholstery, while higher variants have leather upholstery. A six-way power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support is standard on most, excluding the base-level spec. Cargo capacity is where the Tribute truly shows the superiority of high-riders over other cars, offering 31.4 cubic feet behind the second row and 62.7 cubes with the seats folded.

2011 Mazda Tribute Dashboard Mazda
2011 Mazda Tribute Dashboard 1 Mazda
2011 Mazda Tribute Seat Details Mazda
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Tribute Equipment and Safety

Gripes aside, the Tribute is stocked with an admirable list of features considering its base price. Standard-fitted indulgences on Sport variants include keyless entry, a tilt-only steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, and cruise control. Touring versions welcome a multifunction steering wheel and heated seats. As for infotainment, entry versions boast a CD player and an AUX input that send audio to a four-speaker sound system. The Touring is upgraded with a seven-speaker sound system and a six-disc CD changer. Driver-assist features are inclusive of dynamic stability control, a traction control system, daytime running lights, and a tire pressure monitoring system. The Touring adds a rearview camera to the mix.

The Mazda Tribute's review in terms of safety from the IIHS is rather average, which counts against it when you consider that the Kia Sportage received a Top Safety Pick award. The reviews in terms of safety is a welcome advantage for conscious shoppers.

🏁Price and Verdict of Mazda Tribute Cars

If taking a small family from point A to B without too many complaints is all you need in a car, the Tribute does a decent job of it. Is it the best? No, but it comes at a relatively affordable price and is not disappointing by many measures. It has a starting MSRP of around $21,000 but can range up to as much as $30,000, depending on the cost of the packages you equip and the individual trims. For how much you pay, you get a good deal, but many competitors offer good or even great deals.

Check out other Mazda Tribute Styles

Mazda Tribute Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2011 Mazda Tribute:

$20,555 - $29,065
Price Range (MSRP)
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