What's New for 2000
Two B3000 regular-cab models are added: SX and SE. The B2500 Troy Lee edition has been discontinued. Foglights are standard on all 4x4 models. A CD-equipped audio system is standard on all B4000 models. P225/70R15 tires are standard on SX models, and air conditioning is standard on SE and Troy Lee edition models. A 6,000-pound trailer hitch is standard on B4000 4x4s and optional on B4000 4x2 models. Troy Lee editions get standard leather-wrapped steering wheels.
For people who need the functionality of a pickup but think a full-size truck is too big, there's the Mazda B-Series Pickup. Along with its mechanical twin, the Ford Ranger, the Mazda offers a wide range of configurations, four-cylinder and V6 engines, and good reliability.
The different B-Series designations -- B2500, B3000 and B4000 -- refer to the three different engine choices available. The B2500 uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 119 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. The B3000 gets a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 150 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. The top-level B4000 features a 4.0-liter V6 with 160 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque.
All three models are available with a manual or automatic transmission (B2500s and B3000s have a four-speed automatic; B4000s get a five-speed automatic). The B2500 is fine for cargo hauling or light towing duties, but you'll want to step up to the B4000 equipped with the automatic transmission if you plan to use your truck to tow heavier toys (maximum trailer rating for the B4000 is 9,500 pounds).
The current B-Series Pickup has a stylish exterior, and it arguably looks better than the Ranger. This is especially true when the vehicle is fitted with the optional 16-inch wheels. For each series, Mazda offers a regular cab, an extended cab, or a four-door extended cab.
The four-door extended cab is our favorite as it increases the functionality of the interior considerably. The side-facing rear seats on this model are by no means comfortable for adults, but they can be used in a pinch. The rest of the interior is clean and well laid out. The B2500 SX base model is pretty bare bones, but B2500 and B3000 SEs can be ordered with convenience and power packages. Combined, these add items like a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, a bedliner, a sliding rear window, power windows and locks and remote keyless entry. B4000 4x4 models get all of this standard.
The Troy Lee edition adds black paint, two-tone leather bucket seats, fake carbon-fiber interior trim, glow-in-the-dark decals all around and six-spoke alloy wheels to a B2500 2WD regular cab, B3000 2WD extended-cab four-door (Cab Plus 4 in Mazda parlance), or a B4000 4WD Cab Plus 4. "Garish" describes the Troy Lee edition best, and we doubt that's the identity Mazda seeks with this cosmetic upgrade. The best part of the deal is the cool-looking set of unique alloy wheels.
On the road, the B-Series trucks provide a stable ride. It's not quite Lexus RX 300 quality, of course, but the overall ride is comfortable for a compact pickup. Four-wheel drive is an option on B3000s and B4000s. This shift-on-the-fly system features pulse vacuum hub-lock technology, allowing the driver to engage four-wheel drive at speeds up to 70 mph. No stopping or backing up is required when shifting into or out of 4-Lo.
With a rugged design, solid good looks and an excellent warranty, Mazda has done truck buyers right with its latest B-Series. Ford offers more powertrain, body style and option configurations with its Ranger, but the B-Series is still a fun and practical compact pickup.