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Tribute - Eng. The Tribute
Business Structure
The Tribute/Escape programme is the first collaboration in terms of R&D and production by Mazda and Ford. To avoid "cannibalisation" within the Trustmark group, Mazda and Ford have positioned their products differently:
TRIBUTE: 'Stylish', 'Sophisticated'
ESCAPE: 'Tough', 'Truck-ish' (based on the traditional image of Ford SUVs in the US market).

The TRIBUTE is different from the ESCAPE for the following:
- Suspension-Maneuverability, handling and driving comfort.
- Transmission-Driving feel.
- Appearance-Exterior and interior.
- Powertrain-PT control.

Mazda and Ford created a joint team to collaborate on the R&D of both vehicles.
For the first time, Mazda/Ford engineers teamed up spending two years working together on the project at the collaboration office located in Hiroshima, JAPAN.

Mazda's engineers interfaced directly with the Ford engineering system (WERDS), as Ford's engineers did with the Mazda engineering system (MIDAS).

Drawing Information: Mazda had US Ford-oriented suppliers learn about Mazda's R&D system.
Drawing Format: Mazda and Ford set up a common format for the drawing work and defined a common engineering process.


At the production stage both companies 'bridged' their different production systems but at this point no longer used a common interface.


The Mazda Tribute and Ford Escape, while built on the same platform, are uniquely different, with different positioning and product concepts. Almost all panels are unique. Only the roof panel, windshield and front door glass are shared by both models. B- and C-pillars are different and the outer door handles are different. There are even unique exterior colors.

On the inside, only the A- and B-pillar trim, center console, rear door trim and speakers are common. Everything else is unique to the Tribute, including the instrument panel and cluster design. Even the Tribute's audio system was tuned by a Mazda engineer.

There is unique tuning in the steering, suspension, and transmission. In fact, six months were added to the normal development process to allow for an additional stage of tuning to achieve performance characteristics unique to the Tribute.

On V6 models, the Tribute has a unique steering gear [ratio is 15.0, while the Escape is 16.7]. The class-leading suspension is a Mazda design and was tuned by Mazda engineers. The front stabilizer bars have a different diameter, and the front and rear shock absorber damping gives the Tribute the handling feel of a sports sedan.

The calibration of the automatic transmission is unique to the Tribute, using a more aggressive shift schedule for quicker acceleration at higher speed. The manual transmission is a Mazda unit.

Mazda had overall responsibility for the engines, which were based on the Mazda Engineering Standard. Mazda designed the overall packaging, intake and exhaust, air cleaner, intake manifold, engine mounts, battery and alternator.

Over-the-hood visibility is regarded as significantly better in Tribute due to the shape of the fenders.

The rear liftgate incorporates flip-up rear glass. A sheet of plywood can be loaded through the flip-up glass, only possible in the Tribute because of the shape of the rear glass.

Differences in the seat cushion give the Tribute better lateral support.