Mazda Motor Corp. begins production of the right-hand-drive Tribute crossover in Japan on Oct. 17, 2000.
The crossover was developed jointly by Ford and Mazda, with Mazda taking a lead engineering role.
The Tribute also shared a platform with the Ford Escape.
The only panels common to the first-generation Escape and Tribute were the roof and floor pressings.
"Tribute is not only the first model jointly developed by Mazda and Ford based on the strategy of using a common architecture, but also the vehicle to lead Mazda into the coming century," Mazda President Mark Fields said at the time. "From planning to manufacturing ... both companies learned a great deal from each other, and the success of this model in the market will give us even more knowledge as to how we can work together."
The Tribute featured a 3.0-liter V-6 engine or a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder motor.
Production of the left-hand-drive Tribute began in June 2000 at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant, with North American sales launched in August 2000.
The Tribute hybrid went on sale in 2005.
Both the Tribute and Escape were dogged by early quality bugs.
Some Tributes built in Japan developed contaminated brake booster seals. American-built Tributes and Escapes were recalled early for failing windshield wiper linkages, leaking fuel lines, sticking cruise control throttles, incorrect wheel hubs and steering wheels that could come off in a driver's hands.
"The first-generation Tribute had sound handling and braking, impressive cabin space, and adequate acceleration with the optional 3.0-liter V6," Consumer Reports said. "Downsides include a stiff ride and noisy interior ... A tip-up in the government rollover test and a Poor [rating] in the IIHS side-crash test without side and curtain airbags are concerns."
Mazda stopped producing the Tribute in 2011, and U.S. sales peaked at 49,512 in 2003.