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Outside of its badges and a few minor styling details, there's not much that separates the Tribute from the Ford Escape, in fact, the disparity between the two has grown even smaller after last year's thorough revision of the two compact crossover SUVs. Therefore, if the two already share so much, it's only fair that this Mazda gets the same hybrid powertrain that its Ford corporate cousins, the Escape and Mercury Mariner, have enjoyed for a few years now.
It's like the regular Tribute, the hybrid version (officially known as the HEV for Hybrid Electric Vehicle) features revised styling and a greatly improved interior that make it more competitive in the rapidly expanding compact-to-midsize crossover SUV field. Despite these changes, though, the gasoline-electric drivetrain that powers the Tribute is essentially carried over from the original Escape/Mariner hybrids. A 2.3-liter inline-4 provides the gasoline part of the equation, while a pair of electric motors (three with all-wheel drive) produce enough juice to allow the Tribute to travel up to about 30 mph on battery power alone. This lends a tremendous advantage in an urban environment, where stop-and-go driving leads to greater electricity use and generation (by way of regenerative braking).