Ford owns a controlling interest in Mazda, so there’s a close kinship between the popular Ford Escape sport utility vehicle and the related Mazda Tribute. Both SUVs were introduced for the 2001 model year and upgraded for 2005. When comparing the two SUVs, there are subtle styling differences, unique interior features in each and different suspension tuning.
Serving as the sportier member of the pair, the car-based Tribute attracts considerable interest even if its sales lag well behind the Escape’s. Both models compete against the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
New Tribute i and s trim levels replace the previous DX, LX and ES for 2005. A new 2.3-liter four-cylinder in i models produces 153 horsepower, versus 130 hp in the prior version. For the first time, four-cylinder models can be equipped with an automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are available, but the Tribute and Escape aren’t considered true offroad machines. Mazda says the new Active Torque Control Coupling four-wheel-drive system reacts faster than a hydraulic unit
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