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#13

in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $9,822 - $13,528
Original MSRP: N/A
MPG: 22 City / 28 Hwy
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2010 Mazda Tribute Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers have lukewarm opinions on the 2010 Tribute's performance and powertrain, though everyone agrees that is has very good fuel economy numbers.

  • "Pleasant, given the age of its basic design. Bumps are heard more than they're felt. Some float is noticeable at highway speeds, but it's not bothersome." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In general, the 2010 Mazda Tribute is pleasant to drive. The electric power steering system delivers good road feel and response, and around corners, this compact crossover SUV remains relatively flat and inspires driver confidence. The ride quality is also smooth, making the Tribute a suitable choice for commuting or hauling the family." -- Edmunds
  • "The Tribute offers a pleasant, car-like ride with good road feel, responsive handling, and plenty of power. The compact SUV doesn't have a soft or floating feel, but it handles bumps and other road imperfections with grace." -- Car Gurus

Acceleration and Power

The Tribute features two engine choices -- a 2.5-liter 171-horsepower four-cylinder base engine or a 3.0-liter 240-horsepower V6. Base Sport models are paired with a five-speed manual transmission, while others get a six-speed automatic with a manual mode. Reviewers find the acceleration adequate from either engine, though they're underpowered compared to top rivals.

At any rate, the Tribute's fuel economy is a plus. According to the EPA, the 2WD model with four-cylinder engine achieves 22/28 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 21/28 with the automatic. The 4WD model is rated at 20/26. A hybrid model, available in California only, is rated at 34/31 in 2WD and 30/27 in 4WD.

These figures are above average for the Tribute’s class (and the hybrid’s rating is the best in the class). But you can still get better fuel economy than the conventional Tribute and spend less. The Hyundai Tucson costs about $2,100 less and has a nearly best-in-class rating of 22/30 city/highway. Its engine, a 2.4-liter 176-horsepower four-cylinder, is even more powerful than the Tribute’s base engine.

  • "The 4-cylinder provides better than expected acceleration, even with AWD. The transmission shifts smoothly and kicks down quickly for more power. The 240-hp V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission makes for a very responsive compact SUV. The transmission is the highlight of this powertrain, providing smooth upshifts and snappy downshifts when needed." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Acceleration from both engines is adequate, though the V6 isn't as energetic as the more powerful mills in the Equinox and RAV4." -- Edmunds

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. But most of them agree that the brakes don’t stop the Tribute as quickly as they should and the pedal feels spongy.

  • "Body lean in turns is well controlled. The steering feels overboosted and numb, especially at low speeds. A tidy turning radius helps in low-speed maneuvering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Also damning, though, are brakes (discs in front but antiquated drums in the rear) that simply don't have the power to bring the Escape to a stop as effectively as other small SUVs." -- 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
  • "The antiquated rear drum brakes and a soft brake-pedal feel are the two biggest complaints when it comes to the Tribute's performance, and they are noteworthy negatives." -- Car Gurus

Next Steps: 2010 Mazda Tribute

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