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Mazda is currently one of the biggest automakers on the market. However, before Mazda SUV models were as iconic as they are now, the automaker made the Tribute. The Mazda Tribute entered the market in 2001 and remained in production until 2011. Though the Mazda Tribute is still on the road, it’s one of the least discussed Mazda SUV models.  

Is it Mazda’s worst SUV?

The Tribute is not a Mazda SUV model with ample power

2011 Mazda Tribute in blue
2011 Mazda Tribute | Mazda

The problem with the Mazda Tribute is that a comparison exists between it and later SUVs from the automaker. On its own, the Tribute has pretty decent performance. However, compare it to the CX models, and it’s a bit lackluster. The first model Mazda Tribute comes powered by a 3.0-liter 200 horsepower engine. 

According to Car and Driver, the final Mazda Tribute model has the same engine capacity. However, the horsepower was increased to 240. According to reports, the 2011 Mazda Tribute accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour between 5.9 seconds and 8.6 seconds. This isn’t far off from the first model. 

This Mazda SUV has a history of horrible reliability 

2011 Mazda Tribute in Blue. One of the worst Mazda SUV models
2011 Mazda Tribute | Mazda

One of the biggest reasons the Tribute is perhaps Mazda’s worst SUV has to do with its reliability. Beyond being a bit slow and bland, this isn’t one of the Mazda SUV models buyers should trust. The most significant indicator of this is that the SUV never got more than three stars for reliability from Consumer Reports. The biggest complaint is the ill-fated transmission failure; many say it happens before or at the 100,000-mile marker. 

Many complaints about the mechanics of the Mazda Tribute have to do with the engine. There are numerous online stories of drivers losing power, misfires, and loud knocking noises from the engine. The engine noises primarily impacted the 2005 and 2006 Mazda Tribute models. Despite this, many owners say they have only ever needed to fix normal wear and tear issues; they call it a favorite Mazda SUV model.

The Mazda Tribute interior is cheaply made

2011 Mazda Tribute interior 
Mazda SUV models
2011 Mazda Tribute | Mazda

People also dislike this Mazda SUV model due to its interior. Of course, this was before vehicle interiors were as advanced as they are now. However, people still expected durable materials inside their cars. Unfortunately, the Mazda Tribute interior was anything but durable. 

There are many reports of cracked materials in the Mazda Tribute. While this isn’t the worst complaint a vehicle could have, it’s still unsightly damage that the owner has to deal with. Even items commonly used as the center console sustained damage in many Mazda Tributes. Making matters worse, the inside of this Mazda SUV model is bland and uninspired, even for the times. 

Overall, the Mazda Tribute is not a great reflection of the automaker. Today, people know Mazda for top-of-the-line crossovers and not the relic that the Tribute is. While it does have a reasonably attractive exterior, it’s simply a vehicle that used SUV buyers should not take the risk with.

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