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2008 Mazda Tribute

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2008 Mazda Tribute Review

Several upgrades don’t only make it a viable selection for its class, but on par with its closest competitors in many respects.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2008 Mazda Tribute continues to fill the compact SUV crossover segment that encompasses many other brands on the market including the Ford Escape. Many consumers flock to the Tribute for its spacious interior and more than adequate cargo room for a middle-of-the-line SUV.

Thanks to numerous upgrades throughout the exterior and interior, the 2008 Mazda Tribute looks sporty, sleek, and almost boxy, in addition to carrying many perks inside the cabin. The 2008 Mazda Tribute divides into two equal models known as the i and the s. Within each of these model offerings you can shop from three trim packages dubbed Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.3-liter four-cylinder, 3.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Mazda Tribute i Sport, Mazda Tribute i Touring, Mazda Tribute s Sport, Mazda Tribute s Touring, Mazda Tribute i Grand Touring, Mazda Tribute s Grand Touring

What's New

For 2008, the Mazda Tribute sees great improvements and upgrades in both the exterior and interior. Along the exterior, the body design gets revamped to include sleek lines and a shape comparable of other SUVs in the category. The interior also upgrades with the implementation of stylish and practical materials and gadgets.

Under the hood, the 2008 Mazda Tribute does not differ from previous models. Many reviews claim the Tribute inches closer and closer to the Escape in design and performance, but the nuts and bolts of the Tribute remain practically untouched. The comfortable drive and spacious interior highlight this year’s model.


The platform responsible for the 2001 launch of the model can still be found today. Slight improvements occur under the body frame, including the electric power steering system. The base Sport offers 16-inch alloy wheels, while the Touring boasts a roof rack and tinted windows. Moving up to the Grand Touring drivers get a sunroof, a retractable cargo cover, and automatic headlamps. All three trim levels of the 2008 Mazda Tribute offer optional features including, but not limited to, a towing package.


For some it may be more noticeable what the Tribute lacks, rather than what it adds. Many 2008 SUVs adapt to the current trends and respond by offering Bluetooth connectivity and navigation, but unfortunately the 2008 Mazda Tribute has yet to stay with the times. Controls on the dashboard upgrade in terms of style and design, with noteworthy features located on the HVAC and stereo. Many find the interior on par with the Ford Escape, but others still feel the Tribute offers a more modern look with the two-tone color options.

The inside cabin feels spacious with this smaller SUV and the seats can fold down to create additional cargo space for a total of 66 cubic feet. With the second row of seating upright you can still place plenty of your much-needed items in the 29 cubic feet of trunk space.

Performance & Handling

As mentioned earlier, the 2008 Mazda Tribute offers two engine variations: a 2.3-liter that reaches 153 horsepower and a 3.9-liter that boasts an impressive 200 horsepower through a V-6 engine. A four-speed automatic transmission pairs with both, but you can also opt for the i Sport with a manual transmission. All-wheel drive remains available on all 2008 Mazda Tributes. For those searching for a small SUV with a powerful towing capacity, the V-6 engine can move 3,500 pounds with ease.


For a small SUV the Tribute offers a powerful set of safety features that make you feel comfortable when behind the wheel. A wide range of airbags include the front and full-length side-curtain standards. In addition, you can also depend on anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and a tire-pressure monitor to help you arrive safely.

Although, when it comes to the government crash tests, the 2008 Mazda Tribute only earns three out of five stars in the head-on collisions/driver protection category. It gets a full five stars for front- and rear-occupant protection in the event of a side impact.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mazda Tribute i Sport: 22/28 mpg city/highway
Mazda Tribute i Touring: 20/26 mpg city/highway
Mazda Tribute s Sport: 18/24 mpg city/highway
Mazda Tribute s Touring: 18/24 mpg city/highway
Mazda Tribute i Grand Touring: 20/26 mpg city/highway
Mazda Tribute s Grand Touring: 18/24 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Great cargo space
  • Improved interior design
  • Safety features

You Won't Like

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Minimal frame upgrades
  • Minimal engine variations

Sum Up

Several upgrades don’t only make it a viable selection for its class, but on par with its closest competitors in many respects.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Escape

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