What's New for 2001
More power is the big news for the ?01 B-Series. The B4000 boasts a new 4.0-liter SOHC V6, while the B2300 has a more-powerful 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The flexible-fuel feature on the 3.0-liter V6 has been dropped. To keep up with the additional horsepower, Mazda has made ABS standard on all models. The company has also created a new 4x2 Dual Sport trim level and modified every model's exterior and interior styling. To the chagrin of Troy Lee but probably nobody else, the B-Series Troy Lee edition has been dropped.
For people who need the functionality of a pickup but think a full-size truck is too big, Mazda offers its B-Series compact 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 -- B2300, B3000 and B4000 -- refer to the three different engine choices available. The B2300 replaces the previous B2500 model and uses a new 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 140 horsepower, 21 more horsepower than before. The B3000 has a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 150 horsepower and 185 foot-pounds of torque. The top-level B4000 features a new 4.0-liter SOHC V6 (the same one found in Ford's Explorer) with 207 horsepower and 238 foot-pounds of torque. It is mated to a new five-speed automatic transmission. The previous 4.0-liter V6 made only 160 horsepower.
The B2300 is fine for cargo hauling or light towing duties, but you'll want to step up to the B4000 to tow heavier toys (maximum trailer rating for the B4000 is 5,900 pounds). Different B-Series configurations include a regular cab, a two-door extended cab, and a four-door extended cab.
The B-Series gains new styling for 2001, including a restyled grille and new lights front and rear. Four-wheel-drive trucks get 16-inch alloy wheels, and a new two-wheel-drive Dual Sport model debuts with a monochromatic paint scheme on the grille, bumpers and fender flares. It also includes 15-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential (B4000 models only), wheel arch moldings and fog lights. The real advantage of the Dual Sport is that you get the look of 4WD (the Dual Sport has a raised suspension) without the extra weight and monetary premiums associated with 4WD.
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. For 2001, Mazda has revised the interior by updating the seats, door trim, gauges and steering wheel.
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 options and features with its Ranger, but the B-Series is still a fun and practical compact pickup.