Kinship of Mazda's B-Series with Ford's Ranger is evident both on the surface and beneath. That's because both compact pickups are built at the same New Jersey factory, from the same design, and employ virtually identical powertrains and four-wheel-drive setups. Both are competent and attractive, differing only in detail and pricing structure.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard on all 4WD models. SE models equipped with the SE-5 Plus package also include this safety feature. A rear-wheel system is standard on all other B-Series trucks. All B-Series models come standard with a driver's side airbag. A passenger's side airbag is available as part of the SE-5 Plus option package, and the airbag can be deactivated for those times when small children must ride in the front seat.
Horsepower of the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that powers B2300 models measures 112. Those who like to flex their truck's muscle are likely to be attracted to the B4000 end of the scale. Its 4.0-liter V6 delivers 160 horsepower, plus a 220 foot-pounds torque wallop--just right for heavy hauling and easy merging/passing on the highway. For 1997, this engine can be mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and can tow up to 5,900 pounds when properly equipped.
Two cab configurations are available with either two- or four-wheel drive. Two trim levels are marketed, down from three in 1996: base and sporty SE. The slow-selling luxury-oriented LE trim level is dropped this year. Your ticket to the options list is the SE trim level. Base models can only be equipped with air conditioning, power steering, an automatic transmission, and a bedliner.
A B2300 pickup looks truly basic inside, but carries full gauges (without graduations) and simple climate controls. In base form, a Mazda with a simple vinyl bench seat looks to be all truck--pristine and practical, almost like a cargo hauler out of the 1940s. Add such amenities as air conditioning and power steering, though, and you get a comfortable-driving, highly functional machine for only a moderate financial outlay.
Select any Mazda truck, and you get rugged construction, good looks and with the B4000, a spirited powertrain. Best of all, Mazda offers one of the best comprehensive truck warranties in the business. It's hard to go wrong with a Mazda B-Series pickup.