Mazda’s fate in producing a competitive compact truck is, and has been for better or worse inextricably tied to the Ford Ranger. For the better part of 15 years, and even longer with pre-Ranger models, the two companies have collaborated in a series of Mazda pickups baring a variety of “B-designated” badges. Now that the current pickup for both automakers seems to be coming to an end, Mazda makes one last appeal for buyers with the 2009 B-Series Truck.
Though the relationship between Mazda and Ford goes all the way back to the 70’s, the latest generation of the Mazda B-Series pickup was introduced for the 2001 model year. Truly a compact truck, both the B2300 and B4000, remain highly functional, maneuverable and fuel efficient. Body styles consist of either a regular cab or extended cab which has two small folding seats. The model names, correspond to engine choices, and as such, the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 143 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque through the rear wheels is called the B2300, and the 4.0-liter V6 that achieves 207 horses and 238 pound-feet of torque and has 4WD is called the B4000. Transmission choices consist of either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. Fuel efficiency, especially for the 2WD remains competitive at 21/26 mpg in city and highway driving with the manual, and 14/19 mpg for 4WD versions. Inside, the available options and features are modest at best. Standard features include Anti-lock Brakes, Dual airbags, Tire-Pressure Monitoring System, A/C, and a basic stereo. The B4000 adds active 4-wheel drive with “shift on the fly” and dual-range transfer case. Pricing for the B2300 is between $16,780 and $17,780. The 4WD jumps up to between $22,870 and $23,870.
Although initially competitive, Mazda trucks have quickly become outdated and overwhelmed in comparision to other truck making rivals in terms of power, features and passenger capacity. The trucks from Mazda’s competitors now offer the latest luxury and safety features such as navigation systems, side airbags and stability control.
Although it is certainly not a bad vehicle, because of its inability to keep pace with safety and interior appointments, the Mazda feels outclassed. Say goodbye B-series!