2009 Mazda Tribute Review

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2009 Mazda Tribute Overview

Following an exterior and interior redesign in 2008, the Mazda Tribute SUV receives two new engines as well as a number of minor updates for '09. For starters, Mazda has replaced the previous year's 153-hp, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with a more powerful and more fuel efficient 171-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which drives the Tribute i trims. Mazda also introduced a new 240-hp, 3.0-liter V6 engine, which drives the s trims and replaces the previous year's 200-hp, 3.0-liter engine.

Both powerplants feature an aluminum block and cylinder heads that helps keep the weight down while improving the power-to-weight ratio. Fuel economy ranges from 22/28 for the front-wheel-drive i trim with a manual transmission to 17/24 for the V6-powered s trims with four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission.

Tributes at both the i and s levels come in Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trims, and all Tribute trims are available with either front-wheel drive or Mazda's ATCC (Active Torque Control Coupling) four-wheel-drive system, giving drivers a wide range of choices. The ATCC four-wheel-drive system monitors various inputs from the transmission, wheel, and throttle and delivers torque to the wheels as necessary to ensure optimal traction in all types of driving conditions.

All trims except the i Sport receive a new six-speed transmission for 2009, which replaces the previous year's five-speed transmission. The i Sport retains its manual transmission. Other new features for all trims include redesigned front and rear seats, automatic on/off headlights, and an Easy Fuel capless fueling system. The Touring and Grand Touring trims receive standard steering wheel audio controls, while the Grand Touring trims add a one-touch open/close moonroof, an electrochromatic rearview mirror, and Sirius satellite radio as new standard features. In addition, the Tribute comes in three new exterior colors, including White Suede, Brilliant Silver, and Sport Blue.

Standard safety features for all Tribute trims include Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control, and a Traction Control System, as well as side impact airbags, side air curtains, and antilock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, which boosts braking power in emergency situations.

The five-passenger, four-door Tribute offers numerous storage areas, including four storage areas within reach of the driver's seat and five more areas within reach of the passenger's seat. With the rear seats up, the Tribute offers 29.2 cubic feet of rear cargo space, which expands to 66.3 cubic feet with the 60/40 split rear seatbacks folded flat.

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Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.

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