Full 2008 Mazda B-Series Truck Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Mazda B-Series compact pickup loses the B3000 (and its Dual Sport variant) trim level. Otherwise, this aging workhorse sees no changes.
Some things improve with age -- wine, for instance, or a baseball glove. Even Elton John's hair. But some don't, and you need not look any further for an example than the Mazda B-Series. This compact pickup truck rolls into 2008 little changed from a decade ago. Although it's not a bad truck -- it's nimble and pretty tough -- the B-Series is clearly outgunned by much newer rivals in virtually every area important to today's compact/midsize pickup audience.
As with its Ford Ranger platform mate, the Mazda B-Series is a true compact pickup, while others that were formally in that group have grown considerably and are now midsize rigs. The B-Series' smaller dimensions are an asset when tackling narrow trails off-road, dicing with city traffic or parking in crowded lots. And although the chassis is old, it's rugged, making this truck ideal for folks who need a no-frills workhorse, or for outdoor enthusiasts who want to indulge in their activities without spending a lot on a truck.
But compared to competitors such as the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier or Dodge Dakota, the B-Series comes up short in passenger- and load-carrying capacities, modern conveniences and safety features. While those models offer a crew cab body style, the B-Series does not. The other trucks also offer much more powerful engines and more safety features (such as stability control and side airbags) than the Mazda.
For those whose compact pickup requirements are minimal -- meaning they have no need for a roomy cabin, a nav system or brawny towing capacity -- the 2008 Mazda B-Series should suffice. But we'd be willing to bet that everyone else would find its far superior rivals much more appealing.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Mazda B-Series compact truck comes in two body styles: regular cab and extended cab (which features a pair of smaller doors to access the rear compartment). No crew cab style is offered.
There are two trim levels: base B2300, base B4000 and B4000 SE. The numbers indicate engine displacement (e.g., 2300 means 2.3 liters). The B2300 comes only as a two-wheel-drive regular cab, while the B4000 comes only as a four-wheel-drive extended cab. Standard equipment includes a sliding rear window, AM/FM stereo, air-conditioning (on B4000) and 15-inch steel wheels (16-inch on B4000).
The B4000 SE features foglights, skid plates, a limited-slip differential, 16-inch alloy wheels, upgraded upholstery, cruise control and a bedliner. Many of these features are available as options on the less expensive models.
Powertrains and Performance
Two engines are available. The B2300 comes with a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 143 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. The B4000 comes with a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 207 hp and 238 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual is standard on both models except the B4000 SE, which comes with a five-speed automatic. The automatic is optional on all trim levels.
Tow ratings stand at a paltry 2,260 pounds for the B2300 and a more respectable 5,580 pounds for the B4000.
Antilock brakes are standard on all models, but virtually all other modern safety features, such as stability control and side curtain airbags, are not available. Still, in government crash tests, the 2008 Mazda B-Series did well, earning five stars (out of five) for the driver and four stars for the front passenger in frontal-impact crashes. In that agency's side-impact tests, the B-Series scored five stars (standard cab) and four stars (extended cab). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this compact pickup truck a rating of "Acceptable" (the second highest of four) after conducting its frontal-offset impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
As expected, the cabin has a dated feel, and unlike its competitors, the Mazda B-Series doesn't offer leather upholstery or a premium sound system. There isn't much legroom and the seats are low and flat, so don't expect long-range comfort. Extended-cab models have a pair of jump seats in the rear. Those side-facing rear seats are by no means comfortable for adults, but they can be used by extra passengers in a pinch.
Despite its relatively low horsepower rating, the 4.0-liter V6 offers respectable acceleration for this class, and the five-speed automatic does a fine job of making the most of the available power. The B2300 feels underpowered. All models are easy to maneuver thanks to the truck's small size, but the basic platform and underpinnings are old-tech, resulting in a harsh ride over broken pavement. The 2008 Mazda B4000 is a solid performer off-road, but the lack of an optional off-road package means hard-core trail busters will have to explore the aftermarket to outfit it properly.