Northwest NEWS

April 30, 2001

Features

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TEST DRIVE - 2001 Mazda Tribute ES

Mazda has entered the sport utility market with the introduction of the 2001 Mazda Tribute. With the options of a V6 engine and on-demand 4-wheel drive, plus many attractive standard features, the Tribute is getting quite a bit of attention.
   This is a smart looking SUV with sharp creases in the hood and fenders and a rugged look. The five-point grille has a large chrome Mazda symbol.
   The Tribute seats five with plenty of cargo space behind the back seat. You can gain extra space by folding down the rear seat. The interior is roomy and comfortable.
   My test drive model was galaxy blue metallic with a grey leather interior.
   Powered by a 24-valve, 200 horsepower V6 engine with torque at 200 ft-lbs. @ 4750 rpm, the drive was great. Getting out of tight spots, pulling in and out, and fast acceleration were all done with ease.
   The ES comes with the 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.
   The brakes are power assisted with dual diagonal hydraulic circuits with an optional 4-wheel, 4-sensor ABS with electronic brake distribution.
   The on-demand Rotary Blade Coupling four wheel-drive system used by Mazda is great. It automatically senses when the front wheels begin to slip and hydraulically transfers power to the rear wheels for improved traction. You can also lock the system in four-wheel drive on the instrument panel when driving in difficult conditions.
   There is no problem with visibility in the Tribute. The 6-way power control of the driver's seat allows you to get comfortable. There are plenty of spaces for all your stuff and the sound system has an in-dash six-disc CD changer making it easy to load CDs and change them at will. The 190-watt AM/FM/cassette/six-disc CD audio system has seven speakers, including a 90-watt subwoofer. Roy Orbison sounded like he was right in the car with me.
   My test model came with an optional power sliding glass sunroof.
   A tow package is available. The Tribute can tow up to 3,500 lbs. There is a three-year roadside assistance program, a free loaner car with any warrantable condition and a three-year/50,000 mile warranty. This is a SUV I would take a look at if I were in the market.