Mazda and Ford combined the best of both worlds in the early 2000s, when they paired the platform of a Mazda 626 sedan with Ford engines and upgraded truck suspension to create the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute compact SUVs. The rebadged twins shared nearly all their parts, but neither creation was particularly well-suited to towing heavy loads.
Factors Affecting Tow Rating
Mazda offered two powerplants for the Tribute. The base 2.0-liter inline-four engine, which came paired with a five-speed manual transmission on the DX model, provided insufficient trailer-hauling power, with 130 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 135 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. Then there was the 3.0-liter V-6, which provided plenty of thrust and a four-speed automatic and came with the LX and ES models. This engine put out 200 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 200 foot-pounds of torque at 4,750 rpm. Four-wheel independent suspension came standard, but four-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes were options on the Tribute, which sported 7.9 inches of ground clearance on the base ES and 8.4 inches on the upgraded models.
Mazda rated the underpowered Tribute ES for a maximum towing capacity of 1,000 pounds, which corresponded to a maximum trailer tongue weight of 100 pounds. The Japanese automaker didn't offer a trailer hitch receiver for the ES, but for the LX and ES, this add-on was a $355 option. Mazda rated these models for a maximum tow rating of 2,000 pounds with a Class I trailer hitch, and 3,500 pounds with a Class II hitch.