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#21

in 2011 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $11,396 - $15,843
Original MSRP: $20,555 - $29,065
MPG: 23 City / 28 Hwy
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2011 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 2011 Tribute's performance and powertrain, though everyone agrees that is has very good fuel economy numbers.

  • "Pleasant, given the age of its basic design.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "In general, the 2011 Mazda Tribute is pleasant to drive." -- Edmunds
  • "This hybrid SUV gets the job done quietly and smoothly, and I don't really have a negative thing to say about it. That's not to say that my family and I fell in love with it; the Tribute Hybrid lacks that bit of flair or personality that makes a car memorable." -- Mother Proof

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 least the Tribute's fuel economy is a plus. According to the EPA, the front-wheel drive model with four-cylinder engine achieves 23/28 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 21/28 with the automatic. The four-wheel drive model with base engine is rated at 20/26. A hybrid model, available in California only, is rated at 34/31 in front-wheel drive and 30/27 in four-wheel drive.

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 23/31 city/highway. Its engine 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-horsepower 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 upgrade engines found in its many competitors." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Reviewers generally complain about the 2011 Mazda Tribute’s handling. In a time when most compact SUVs ride smoothly and comfortably, the Tribute feels truck-like, old and dated.

  • "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
  • "Bumps are heard more than they're felt. Some float is noticeable at highway speeds, but it's not bothersome." -- Consumer Guide
  • “If you're looking for the sort of dynamic driving experience indicative of Mazda's other vehicles, you won't find it with this aging, rebadged Ford." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2011 Mazda Tribute

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