Mazda says the revamped 2008 Tribute looks bolder and tougher - but has a more comfortable, more upscale interior than did its previous version.
The Tribute is the brand's most traditionally styled SUV, Mazda adds, compared to its slinky CX-7 and sleek CX-9 crossovers.
Offered in both front- and all-wheel-drive versions, the Tribute sport-utility vehicle shares platforms and powertrains with the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner and their hybrid editions, though the Tribute carries its own distinctive styling inside and out.
A 153-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine powers the base version through a five-speed manual, while a 200-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 is included with the top model. Both engines can be mated to an optional four-speed automatic transmission. Anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution are standard, and an available four-wheel-drive system features Active Torque Control Coupling, which manages the amount of engine torque that's sent to the rear wheels on a real-time basis as needed to maintain traction.
For 2008 the Tribute comes in three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Along with a touched-up exterior design, it adds standard stability and roll control, traction control and tire pressure monitors, as well as 16-inch wheels, fog lamps, and a restyled interior.
Side-curtain airbags, a DVD entertainment system, heated seats, Sirius satellite radio, and a power moonroof are on the options list.
And for the first time, the Tribute gets a hybrid version, dubbed the Tribute HEV. The Japanese automaker says the Tribute HEV will be one of the least-polluting vehicles on the road. Its four-cylinder gas engine and battery pack will combine to produce 155 horsepower while meeting PZEV and SULEV-II emissions standards, the strictest applied to any vehicle sold in the U.S.
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