2006 Mazda Tribute SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Mazda Tribute SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mazda Tribute Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.3 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 153 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2006 Mazda Tribute

  • Roomy on the inside, stylish on the outside and fun to drive wherever it goes, the 2006 Mazda Tribute is one of our favorite small SUVs.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Roomy and comfortable interior, peppy V6 engine, drives more like a car than a truck, long list of standard features.

  • Cons

    Mediocre fuel economy and range on V6 models, can't get side airbags on four-cylinder models.

  • What's New for 2006

    After receiving significant updates last year, the Mazda Tribute SUV enters 2006 unchanged.

Full 2006 Mazda Tribute Review

What's New for 2006

After receiving significant updates last year, the Mazda Tribute SUV enters 2006 unchanged.


The 2005 model year marked the first serious refresh for the Mazda Tribute. The previous generation's weak four-cylinder base engine was replaced by a 2.3-liter four with 153 horsepower and 152 lb-ft of torque. Styling revisions were in evidence inside and out, and a revised suspension system took care of things underfoot. A new electronic four-wheel-drive system, called Active Torque Control Coupling, uses an electromagnetic clutch to control the amount of torque sent to the rear wheels. In other words, power is split front to rear according to the engine control computer, and the system can react appropriately before traction is ever lost.

As always, the Mazda Tribute is more a car masquerading as a truck than a truck masquerading as a car. It drives like a tall, sporty station wagon, feeling nimble and surefooted on pavement. The trade-off, of course, is that when you get a Tribute into the mud, it is somewhat limited in its capability to bash boulders and scrabble up mountainsides. Thus, it is perfectly suited to the lifestyles of the majority of its buyers, who live in cities and suburbs and use it to haul groceries, children and the occasional piece of furniture. Stylish, speedy (with the V6) and spacious, the 2006 Mazda Tribute is one of the best small SUVs on the market.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The four-door Mazda Tribute is available in base i and high-line s trims. The i comes with a decent amount of standard equipment, including 16-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, air conditioning, a CD player and power windows, mirrors and locks. The s adds privacy glass, a height-adjustable driver seat and cruise control. Key options include leather upholstery, a power driver seat, an upgraded seven-speaker audio system with a CD changer, a moonroof and a class II towing package. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system can be ordered on any Tribute as long as a sunroof isn't involved.

Powertrains and Performance

Two engines are available in the Mazda Tribute. The i comes with a 153-hp, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine matched to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The s gets a 3.0-liter V6 engine good for 200 hp. A four-speed automatic is standard with the V6. Both Mazda SUV models are available with either front-wheel drive (2WD) or an electronic four-wheel-drive system (4WD). Maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.


Four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist are standard on all models. Side curtain airbags are optional on the s model only. The Tribute scored very well in governmental crash testing, earning a perfect five stars for the driver and four stars for the front passenger in the frontal-impact category, and five stars across the board for side impacts. Frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS told a different story, however, as the Tribute earned a "Marginal" rating (the second lowest of four). The Tribute did earn a "Good" in IIHS side-impact testing when equipped with side airbags.

Interior Design and Special Features

Tribute cabins are roomy and functional with plenty of room for four passengers and a simple control layout. All radio head units are satellite radio-compatible (Mazda dealers can install a Sirius receiver). In general, materials quality is not as impressive as that of other Mazda vehicles, but considering the economical nature of this small SUV, most buyers won't find it lacking. Cargo capacity is generous for a small SUV with 30 cubic feet behind the rear seats and a total of 66 cubic feet when the seats are folded.

Driving Impressions

Mazda markets the Tribute as the Miata of SUVs, and the claim isn't far off the mark. With a wide track and powerful V6, the Tribute handles better than most SUVs on the road, driving more like a sporty car than a truck. Ride quality is smooth, making this SUV a suitable choice for commuting or hauling around the family. Equipped with 4WD, the Mazda Tribute can easily take on snow and ice during the winter. One of the few drawbacks to this Mazda SUV is the V6 engine's mediocre gas mileage. This year's new 153-hp four-cylinder is a good option for buyers on tighter budgets -- expect adequate acceleration and better mileage than what you'd get with the V6.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Fun at first...but then

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mazda Tribute s 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

When we first got the Tribute we really loved it. We got an extended warranty since we bought the car used. This was a good thing because wheel bearings, the 4WD shift controller, Rear Suspension where just some of the things that needed to be fixed in the first few months. We took on a trip through the Maritimes and it had lots of pick-up, no issues on climbing some hilly terrain or passing. The comfort inside was great, but the radio broke and cup holder kept coming off. The all leather interior on our model was great and easy to clean.

Dead at 47,000 miles

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mazda Tribute i 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl 4A)

I've had this car for 6 1/2 years and just paid it off months ago. I loved this car the entire time I had it. Rarely had to put any money into it other than maintenance. It was the perfect size for me and went great in the snow. Until last week. The valves started to tap and before I could get to a gas station to put oil in it, the engine locked up. No warning. Got it to the repair shop and upon inspection, they found that the engine was dead - $5,300 for a new engine. Since that is about what the blue book value is, I decided to just buy a new car. The oil had been changed last 4,000 miles ago. There was no reason for the oil to have leaked, but apparently it did. Trade in $500.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Zoom zoom my tail!! bad

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mazda Tribute i 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 4A)

I posted about 2 months ago because the Tranny went out! This has been the most terrible vehicle that I have ever owned! In addition to the transmission going out at about 108k now my engine is shot. The vehicle has a 112k on it now. It's the 2.3 4 cylinder 2x4. Very Slow, very little performance at all. They look sharp but without doubt a true money pit disaster. I drive my car very easy and perform routine maintanence ahead of time!! All out just a bad vehicle!!!

Crappy crappy transmission!!!!

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mazda Tribute i 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 4A)

I bought my Tribute w/ 77k on her 17 months ago and first off it is VERY weak. I maintain my vehicle myself and do so very OCD like. The transmission gave out on me @ 108k. My only complaints are the noticable lack of power and the PATHETIC transmissions Mazda designed and installed on these vehicles! Thank Goodness I have a GREAT hookup here in NC which rebuilt the tranny with much better than factory parts. I took out and reinstalled the transmission myself which saved $400. The rebulid alone was $900 which is a deal. If you buy a Tribute be prepared to replace the tranny without ANY doubt. For someone without help or ability its gonna be $1800-$2500..EASY Good luck, You'll need it!!!

Will never buy a mazda

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Mazda Tribute s 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

At first this vehicle was great. Loved how sturdy it was and how it drove. UNTIL I hit 70,000 miles. Things went south and fast. So far the oil pan had to be re-sealed TWICE, the transmission was leaking, the rack and pinon leaking (for break fluid), the starter had to be replaced, and now the alternator is bad. This all has happened in under a year. The dealership I bought it from stated I had an extended warranty for buying it and they also did not honor that warranty so all of the above was paid out of pocket. I really got a crappy Mazda. With 2 kids and hubby being the only one that works and me in school, This car has really put us in a hole and that is an understatement.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

2006 tribute can't tow

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Vehicle: 2006 Mazda Tribute s 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

I researched and bought my 2006 Tribute s AWD, but it did not have the factory tow package. The dealer told me that you can add a hitch. The only problem is that it won't accept aftermarket wiring! I had two different trailer wiring harnesses installed by a pro and they both fired the module. The second one burned out the Tribute's computer. Mazda replaced it as a "good will gesture", but said that it can't accept an aftermarket trailer harness. My tribute also needed the leather driver's seat cover replaced, and a sunroof switch. Can anyone help with the wiring issue. I really want to tow a small trailer and also want to keep the tribute. BTW- it only gets 18-20mpg around town.

Talk About The 2006 Tribute

2006 Mazda Tribute Discussions See all Started By

Can/Should we trade-in the Mazda for say, a Honda CRV or Mazda Tribute, and end up with a new 5-year lease at a similar payment (about $300/mo.)? Or will we need to put more $$ down?...

I can. I am the original owner of my 2006 Mazda Tribute 3.0L V6 AWD & the truck has always performed well for us. I ordered the truck with a towing package although I've newer towed anything. ...

Tribute will remain in line-up when cross sport arrives... the cross sport will be very car-like and larger compared to the Tribute....

Gas Mileage


  • 21
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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