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2003 Mazda Tribute Sport Utility Crossover

3.0L Auto ES

Starting at | Starting at 19 MPG City - 25 MPG Highway

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  • $23,430 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Mazda Tribute Sport Utility Crossover

Printable Version

2003 Mazda Tribute Sport Utility Crossover

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2003 Mazda Tribute

Source: New Car Test Drive

Introduction

It's a well-worn cliche, but the Mazda Tribute really puts some sport in sport-utility. Responsive handling and brisk V6 performance make Tribute one of best of the small SUVs sold today. Mazda and Ford worked jointly on developing the Mazda Tribute and Ford Escape, and together they outclass the other small utilities, at least on dry pavement.

Mazda Tribute delivers an excellent value for people who want the image and versatility of a sport-utility, coupled with refinement and better on-road handling than truck-based utilities can offer.

Tribute ES, the top model, comes loaded with leather seating, a six-disc in-dash CD player and other luxury features. Upgrades for the 2003 Tribute ES include dash trim designed to look like carbon fiber, side-impact airbags that come standard, and available heated seats and mirrors.

Model Lineup

Mazda Tribute is available in three trim levels: DX ($18,295), LX ($21,680) and ES ($23,270).

DX is powered by a 130-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission; it is not available with an automatic.

LX and ES are fitted with a 200-horsepower V6 and a four-speed automatic transmission. In fact, 90 percent of all Tributes are sold with the V6 and automatic.

All models are available with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive and other equipment included with it adds $1200 on V6 models and $1700 to the DX.

DX is well equipped, with air conditioning; power windows, mirrors and locks; remote keyless entry; tilt steering; a roof rack; 16-inch alloy wheels rear privacy glass.

LX adds cruise control, fog lights, wider tires and appearance items. A 60/40 split rear seat replaces the one-piece folding rear seat found in the DX.

Side airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on ES. Side airbags are optional ($250) on LX, but to get them you must also order ABS ($300). A six-way power driver's seat, standard on ES, is optional on LX for $250.

Walkaround

Mazda Tribute has an aggressive look due to its forward-tilted stance, short overhangs and wide track. Thick bumpers, side cladding and wheel lip moldings smoothly integrated into the bodywork convey a sense of stability and refined ruggedness. Large multi-reflector headlamps with clear lenses and rear combination lamps with crystal lenses add a sporty dash. A two-tone color scheme and minimal use of chrome create a clean appearance. The Tribute is aerodynamically superior to several of its competitors.

Mazda Tribute's external dimensions are comparable to those of the Jeep Liberty and Honda CR-V. It is longer than a RAV4 and nearly as wide as a Ford Explorer.

Interior Features

Tribute offers lots of front and rear legroom. It's capable of seating five, but more comfortable with four, and no shoulder belt is provided for the rear-center position.

Tribute's front bucket seats were improved last year (2002). They are comfortable and of higher quality than those found in many SUVs. The same is true of the Tribute's rear bench seat. But as in many small sport-utilities, the Tribute's rear-side windows do not roll down all the way.

The second-row seat folds down, revealing a flat cargo floor and nearly 64 cubic feet of cargo space. The Tribute will even accommodate 4x8-foot sheets of plywood, if you don't mind flipping open the rear hatch glass and letting the plywood stick out the back. The glass does not have to be closed when opening the rear hatch. A 12-volt power outlet is located in the rear of the cargo compartment.

Radio controls are easy to use, and the heating, air conditioning and ventilation controls are simple. Cruise controls are mounted on the steering wheel. The instrument panel is straightforward and easy to read. New for 2003 is a two-tone color scheme for the instrument panel, in either gray or beige. The center panel is finished in brushed aluminum in the DX and LX, and with faux carbon fiber in the ES.

Noise, vibration and harshness levels are low when underway. Visibility in all directions is very good. The shape of the Tribute's hood combines with its seating position to allow the driver to clearly see both front corners of the vehicle, an advantage over the Honda CR-V. Narrow A-pillars (front) and D-pillars (rear) minimize blind spots. The low bottom edge of the rear window maximizes visibility, and there's no spare tire hanging off the liftgate to block the view.

Leather seating surfaces and a six-way power driver's seat are standard on the ES model. Mazda is using different leather for 2003 and says that it's softer than before.

Driving Impressions

The Mazda Tribute is an agile and powerful little SUV. It handles better than other sport-utilities. Its sharp steering allows the driver to guide it precisely. At high speeds, the Tribute is supremely stable. Handling response is relatively taut, without that mushiness that characterizes SUVs with big off-road tires and long-travel suspensions. Tribute handles better on the road than a Jeep Liberty, and it's more fun to drive than a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.

Steering response is direct and accurate without a big dead spot in the center. There's enough feeling in the steering to impart a sense of control. The tires provide respectable grip in paved corners. The Tribute offers surprisingly good transient response in left-right-left lane-change maneuvers. (The suspensions on front- and four-wheel-drive versions are identical.)

The Tribute's ride quality is smoother and more sophisticated than that of the other small sport-utilities in its class, also, with firm damping and a good control of body motions.

About 90 percent of all Tributes come with Ford's 3.0-liter V6. Similar in design to the Duratec V6 used in the Ford Taurus, this specially tuned 200-horsepower engine gives the Tribute a distinctive advantage in performance over the other small utilities. It isn't the smoothest V6 on the market, nor is it the roughest. But it is smoother and more satisfying than the four-cylinder engines found on most small sport-utilities, including the Toyota RAV4.

The V6 engine and four-speed automatic transmission communicate well. The transmission shifts smoothly up and down, appropriately for the situation. A broad power band means the engine never lugs or strains. Mazda tuned the transmission for slightly more aggressive shifting and mapped it for quicker acceleration than in the Ford Escape. Properly equipped, the Tribute can tow trailers up to 3500 pounds, which covers lightweight ski boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, and small boats.

The Tribute is more than capable of heading down remote two-tracks on trout fishing excursions. It is not offer off-road capability, however. The Jeep Liberty is better for that. Though it performs well on primitive unpaved roads, the Tribute is not intended as an off-road vehicle. There is no traction control system, nor is there a low-range set of gears. Neither its four-wheel-drive system nor its suspension is up to tackling the Rubicon Trail. The four-wheel-drive versions should get to most of the places most of us want to go. More important, the four-wheel-drive system improves driver control on wet pavement, ice and snow. Front-wheel-drive (2WD) Tributes may have trouble slogging through silt or mud without getting stuck.

Specifically developed for the Tribute, the four-wheel-drive system works full time, automatically transferring power between the front and rear wheels as needed through a gadget called a rotary blade coupling. This coupling (similar to a torque converter in an automatic transmission) will, for example, send more power to the rear wheels if you stomp the gas at a traffic light on wet pavement and front wheels start to spin. On some models, a switch allows the driver to lock the torque split 50/50, which is useful when driving off road or on snow-covered roads.

Smooth and responsive, the brakes do a good job of slowing the Tribute down in a hurry. Optional anti-lock brakes (ABS) come into play just when expected and are detectable by the familiar pulsating sensation. We highly recommend opting for ABS.

Summary

Mazda Tribute offers more power than the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and other small SUVs with four-cylinder engines. On the road, it is more sophisticated than the Nissan Xterra, Isuzu Rodeo, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, or Suzuki Vitara. And it costs less than a similarly equipped Xterra. Tribute is a joy to drive and is at the top of its class.


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: DX 2WD ($18,295); DX 4WD ($19,995); LX 2WD ($21,680); LX 4WD ($22,880); ES 2WD($23,270); ES 4WD ($24,470)
Engines: 130-hp, 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder; 200-hp, 3.0-liter DOHC 24-valve V6
Transmissions: 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): dual front airbags
Safety equipment (optional): ABS, side airbags
Basic warranty: 3 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in: Kansas City, Missouri

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Mazda Tribute ES 4WD ($24,470)
Standard equipment: ABS, side-impact airbags, air conditioning, power windows w driver-side express down, rear wiper, rear privacy glass, tilt steering column, 16-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, luggage rack, dual power fold-away mirrors, three power outlets, CD, tachometer, fog lights, cruise control, cargo area cover, reclining front bucket seats with six-way power for driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seating surfaces
Options as tested (MSRP): Luxury Package ($1090) includes Premium Audio Package with 6-disc in-dash CD, power sliding glass moonroof, overhead console; Tow Package ($355)
Destination charge: ($540)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $26,455
Layout: four-wheel drive
Engine: 3.0-liter DOHC 24-valve V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 200 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 200 @ 4750
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 18/24 mpg
Wheelbase: 103.1 in.
Length/width/height: 173.0/71.9/69.9 in.
Track, f/r: 61.0/60.2 in.
Turning circle: 36.8 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 38.3/NA/41.7 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 36.9/NA/36.9 in.
Trunk volume: 63.9 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 3500 Lbs.
Suspension, f: independent, MacPherson strut, coil springs
Suspension, r: independent, multi-link
Ground clearance: 8.4 in.
Curb weight: 3455 lbs.
Tires: P235/70R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/drum w ABS
Fuel capacity: 16.4 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of November 15, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges.

N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-222-5500 - www.mazdausa.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2003 Mazda Tribute Sport Utility Crossover

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade n/a
Passenger Crash Grade n/a
Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front n/a
Side Impact Crash Test - Rear n/a

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Fog Lamps Std
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

2003 Mazda Tribute Sport Utility Crossover

Mazda Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Each Mazda Certified Pre-Owned vehicle comes with a 12-Month / 12,000 Mile Vehicle Limited Warranty with no deductible on covered components, which begins when the factory warranty ends. If it's out of warranty, the 12-month/12,000 miles warranty begins on the certified retail date.

Coverage begins on the limited powertrain warranty from the original retail sales date and covers 7-Years /100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2008-2014 model years and less than 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 150-Point Detailed Inspection

Autocheck® Vehicle History Report with 3-year buyback protection from Experian, subject to all Experian & Experian Automotive buyback terms and conditions.

Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 24hr Roadside Assistance for the life of the Powertrain Limited Warranty offers confidence on the road around the clock.
Special Financing Yes, see your Mazda dealer for details.
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $0

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Mazda Tribute Sport Utility Crossover

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