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Mazda Navajo
Mazda-Navajo
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1991–1994
Assembly Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Successor Mazda Tribute
Class Compact SUV
Body style(s) 2-door SUV
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive
Engine(s) 4.0L 160 hp (119 kW) V6
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Wheelbase 102.1 in (2593 mm)
Length 175.3 in (4453 mm)
Width 70.2 in (1783 mm)
Height 68.1 in (1730 mm)
Related Ford Explorer
Ford Ranger
Mazda B-Series
Ford Aerostar

The Mazda Navajo was a 2-door SUV introduced in 1991, and Mazda's very first off-roader. Also, the Navajo was Mazda's only truck-based SUV. Available only as a four-wheel drive, two-door vehicle, the Navajo was essentially a rebadged Ford Explorer Sport. It was marketed in the United States only, as Mazda Canada did not want to market an SUV. All Navajos were built in Louisville, Kentucky, where the Explorer was built.

To set the two apart, the Navajo had a different grille, taillights and wheels. Inside, it was even harder to tell one from the other, as seat fabrics, typeface on the instrument cluster (but the same design) and the steering wheel hub were the only apparent differences. Two trim levels for the Navajo were offered, base and LX. The base version offered power windows, power locks and power mirrors as standard. The LX added features such as extra interior illumination and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. An optional premium package loaded up the Navajo with luxuries including air conditioning, a stereo system with cassette deck, cruise control, sport seats with power lumbar adjustment and a pop-up/removable moonroof.

A rear-wheel drive Navajo was available for 1992, geared towards people who liked the sporty image of an SUV, but did not need four-wheel drive. Base models were now called the DX, more in keeping with the Japanese manufacturer's way of referring to their base versions (such as Mazda's own 626 DX). Otherwise, the Navajo changed so little that most of the photography used in the 1991 brochure was reused for the 1992 brochure. As expected, the 1993 Navajo picked up the same mechanical upgrades as the Explorer, such as increased power for the V6 engine and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Unlike the Explorer, however, the only other change was an optional CD player. New five-spoke alloy wheels for the Navajo LX were the only change for 1994, which was the Navajo's last year. Sales were poor, and the Navajo was eventually replaced with the Mazda Tribute (based on the Ford Escape) in 2001, seven years after the Navajo was discontinued. The Navajo was Motor Trend magazine's Truck of the Year for 1991.

Firestone Tire ControversyEdit

Main article: Firestone vs Ford Motor Company controversy

In May 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contacted Ford and Firestone about the high incidence of tire failure on Mazda Navajos, Mercury Mountaineers, and Ford Explorers fitted with Firestone tires. Ford investigated and found that several models of 15 in (381 mm) Firestone tires (ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT) had very high failure rates, especially those made at Firestone's Decatur, Illinois plant.

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