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2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Hybrid, SUV, Test Drives

2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Test Drive – “SUV Versatility With Compact Car MPG”

While gas prices continue the fall, the smart money is still being played in the high mpg rated vehicles. First introduced in 2008, the 2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) gives back 30+ mpg with all the flexibility and comfort found in a SUV.

The 2009 Tribute hybrid comes with a new 2.5 liter iVCT 4-cylinder gasoline engine with Atkinson-cycle combustion for improved efficiency, and produces 153hp. At speeds over 25mph, when maximum acceleration is desired, the 70-kWatt electric traction motor also provides an added boost to the drive wheels. Also new for 2009 are front and rear stabilizer bar, power-assisted ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes, automatic on/off headlights, standard satellite radio, steering wheel audio controls and Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control and Traction Control.

A full hybrid, the Tribute HEV can run on 100% electric power up to about 25mph, maximizing in-city fuel economy and making it one of the least-polluting vehicles sold.

Still, the Tribute HEV stays true to the Zoom-Zoom Mazda owners have come to expect by delivering the performance required by SUV owners via a sporty, fully independent suspension.

The Tribute HEV provides plenty of power yet meets the California Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) requirements by achieving Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle II standards, plus zero evaporative emissions standards-the strictest emission regulations a gasoline-fueled vehicle can meet.

The high-tech features under the skin include a special 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine that features Atkinson-cycle combustion for improved efficiency while producing 153hp at 6,000rpm. A 70-kWatt (equivalent to 94hp) electric traction motor provides an added boost to the drive wheels when maximum acceleration is desired. A generator-motor recharges the batteries, starts the engine and helps regulate how the two propulsion channels blend together in the transaxle. A special electronically control, continuously variable transmission (eCVT) harnesses internal combustion and electric power sources to drive the vehicle. A 330-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack located and sealed at the rear load floor stores the electrical energy. Finally, an electronic vehicle system controller manages charging, drive assist and engine-starting functions. This device shuts the engine down during coasting and at stoplights to save fuel. It also converts the traction motor into a generator during braking to help recharge the batteries.

The Tribute HEV offers superior environmental performance with its 2.5 liter gasoline engine and the Atkinson cycle that modifies the timing of the closing of the valves, enabling the engine to realize more power with cleaner emissions. At low speeds or in low-load situations, drive is provided by a permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor, producing 70kW at 5,000rpm and 330 V maximum voltage. I experienced a top speed of 35mph in the electric mode on a flat street in LA with very little throttle.

In transition through four modes-all-electric, gas-electric, gas-only and charging the battery pack-is seamless, and the only clue to the mode in which the vehicle is operating is the ‘charge/assist’ gauges on the instrument cluster. The electronic vehicle system-controller manages charging, drive-assist and engine-starting functions. This device shuts the engine down during coasting and at stoplights to save fuel. It also enables the traction motor to convert to a generator to provide engine-braking and recharge the batteries.

Equipped with standard front-wheel-drive or optional electronic four-wheel-drive, Tribute HEV is offered in two trim levels-Touring and Grand Touring. Mirroring design cues shared by its gasoline-powered sibling, Tribute HEV offers a bold, rugged exterior set off by 16in. alloy wheels, power side view mirrors and standard fog lamps.

Like all good SUVs, the Tribute HEV has a commanding driving position, great visibility, good ground clearance, a tall roof and large cargo area. The elevated seating position and superb visibility mean passengers get a better view of the road when weather conditions are bad, such as heavy driving rain. The Tribute seats five adults in comfort.

Storage compartments in both front doors provide easily accessible storage options. In addition the black veneer styled console has a storage compartment with removable bins large enough to store a laptop. There is 27.8cu.ft. of carrying space behind the rear seat when it’s up, and 66.1cu.ft. when the seatback is folded flat. The rear seat is 60/40 split to improve carrying versatility. For extra practicality, the tailgate features a rear window that lifts separately, ideal for loading less heavy objects.

Safety is also a priority as the all-steel unibody construction is not only very rigid, it is also enormously strong. The crumple zones and ‘Triple H’ construction are designed to absorb and redirect energy away from the passenger cabin. ‘Triple H’ refers to the H-shaped structures in the sides, floor and roof that provide a rigid cell around the cockpit. Side impact door beams are also fitted to further improve safety in a side impact.

The Tribute also comes standard with advanced dual-stage front airbags, front side impact airbags fitted to the seats rather than the doors, side-impact air curtains with rollover protection, front 3-point safety belts have pretensioners, 3-3-point safety belts in the rear, LATCH system for child seats, daytime running lights, remote keyless entry, anti-theft engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitor, traction control, and ABS brakes to help you maintain control during braking on slick surfaces.

Standard features inside the Grand Touring Tribute include a roof rack with chrome accents, body-color heated side view mirrors, power moonroof, variable-intermittent wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer, leather-trimmed seating surfaces with heated front seats, 6-way drivers seat, dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel leather-wrapped shifter in a chrome bezel, dual map lamps, sunglass holder, shiny black veneer center stack/center console with dual cup-holders/door armrest, power windows/door locks, cruise-control, compass/outside temperature gauge, AM-FM-CD changer with 6-speakers, floor console with a 110-volt plug, illuminated dual vanity mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror, front seatback map pockets, thick-pile carpeting with signature Tribute floor mats, and a retractable cargo cover. Options include Mazda’s DVD based Navigation System with a higher-grade audio system and subwoofer.

This very fuel efficient yet powerful sport utility vehicle comes nicely loaded for just $31,695.00 plus destination charges.



Price: $28,175 – As Tested: $31,695
Type: Compact SUV
Where Built: United States
EPA Class: Sport Utility Vehicles


Length: 174.9 in.
Width: 71.1 in.
Height: 70 in.
Wheel Base: 103.1 in.
Ground Clearance: 8.3 in.
Curb Weight: 3843 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4880 lbs.
Front Head Room: 39.3 in.
Front Hip Room: 53.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 56.6 in.
Rear Head Room: 37.5 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 55.9 in.
Rear Hip Room: 49.1 in.
Front Leg Room: 41.6 in.
Rear Leg Room: 35.6 in.
Luggage Capacity: 27.8 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 66 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 4
Base Engine Size: 2.5 liters
Base Engine Type: Inline 4
Horsepower: 177 hp
Max Horsepower: 6000 rpm
Torque: 136 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4500 rpm
Maximum Payload: 1037 lbs.
Drive Type: AWD
Turning Circle: 36.7 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 15 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 29 mpg / 27 mpg / 28 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 435 mi. / 405 mi. / 420 mi.


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