The Mazda Tribute Has Some Sketchy Reliability Scores

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The Mazda Tribute hasn’t been available at dealers for over a decade. Originally released in 2001, the automaker discontinued the subcompact SUV 10 years later. 
Some consumers might wonder why a company would stop producing a model from such a popular segment, but a look online at the critic’s opinions gives a pretty clear explanation. 
A number of sites gave the Tribute subpar reviews. Cheap interior materials didn’t help the SUV’s chances, but the main culprit was the thing no driver wants to hear about a vehicle: poor reliability scores.
A blue 2010 Mazda Tribute driving down the road.
The Mazda Tribute has had some poor reliability scores, but doesn’t mean you should avoid the car.

What went wrong with the Mazda Tribute?

Most car magazines only focus on cars once they enter the market, but a few keep an eye on models after they end up in the hands of drivers. These sites show the true performance of a vehicle, and they reveal the troublesome problems with the Mazda Tribute.
A quick search of the Mazda Tribute on CarComplaints presents an unflattering account, with “engine problems” exposed as the model’s the worst category of problems. 
A closer look divulges just how deep the problems go. Misfires, lost power mid-drive, and loud knocking noises plagued the 2006 and 2005 model years. 
Transmission failure before and around the 100,000-mile mark was noted by owners of the 2001 and 2008 model years.
Consumer Reports reported a similarly rough picture, with the Tribute’s “reliability verdict” never reaching past a three-out-of-five in any of its model years. 

Did anyone like their Tribute?

Despite the ugly story of Tribute ownership told by CarComplaints and Consumer Reports (CR), the response to the subcompact SUV wasn’t all negative. In fact, of the 28 reviews left on RepairPal, only 13 gave three stars or less out of five.
Drivers reported that over years of ownership, they only needed to pay for common wear-and-tear repairs like worn-out breaks and shocks. One person says it’s the best car he’s ever owned for the money he paid for it.
Criticisms found on other sites creep their way into the reviews that gave lower ratings, like the transmission failing before reaching 80,000 miles, but one person claims that after the transmission was replaced (under warranty) he didn’t have any other major problems.

Should you buy a Mazda Tribute?

With the current high prices for many used vehicles, the $8,000 to $2,000 range for a Mazda Tribute shown on CR’s website might entice you to roll the dice and buy one despite the poor reviews. But a quick look at competing models suggests that it’s probably not worth the risk.
CR says a 2011 Honda CR-V, for example, can be found for only a few thousand more, and its score from the industry watchdog is much more comforting. Reviews on other sites, including RepairPal, show a similar picture.
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