Sports Truck of Sports Trucks
2000 Mazda B-Series
© 1994-2000 NewCarTestDrive.com
It's sort of like
those "Tastes great" versus "Less filling" beer commercials that have
been running for years: If you're partial to a sporty look you probably
prefer the Mazda B-Series trucks over their cousins the Ford Rangers.
Beyond trim and other treatments that give the Mazda pickup line its own
distinctive identity, they are two trucks in a pod, so to speak. Both
are solidly built ("Ford tough", in this case, equals "Mazda tough"),
dependable, and fun to drive.
There is now another
distinction between Ford-labeled Rangers and some of the Mazda B3000 and
B4000 models. Where Ford has (or had) Eddie Bauer, Mazda has enlisted
the services of noted graphic designer Troy Lee. Well known for his designer
line of racing helmets, Lee specializes in extreme sports apparel and
equipment. Mazda introduced the Troy Lee Edition B-Series truck as a production
model in 1998. With its flashy looks, graphite-looking trim, any extreme-sports
enthusiast would feel right at home in a Troy Lee-branded B-truck.
Mazda makes it easy
to understand the B-series line-up: B2500 trucks feature a 2.5-liter,
4-cylinder engine. The B3000 uses a 3.0-liter V6, and the B4000 is powered
by a 4.0-liter V6. The two V6s are available in 4x4 and 4X2.
Three cab configurations
are available: regular cab, two-door extended Cab Plus, and 4-door extended
Cab Plus 4.
In addition, there
are three trim levels: the basic SX, the upscale SE, and the extreme Troy
Lee Edition. (The Troy Lee Edition is only available as a B3000 4X2 or
B4000 4X4.) All told, with various combinations of drivetrain, layout
cab configuration, and trim level, there are 13 different B-series models
to choose from in the 2000 model line-up.
Mazda likes to say
that a Troy Lee-branded B-truck has a "No holds barred, take no prisoners"
look. That's really not too much of an exaggeration. The Troy Lee Edition
4X2 B3000 and 4X4 B4000 both feature fog lights, fender flares and 16-inch
all-terrain tires mounted on custom alloy wheels designed by Troy Lee.
The sides of the TL trucks are emblazoned with a reflective flame graphic,
though you can knock $200 off the sticker if you forgo the flames. The
4X2 TL Edition comes with a raised suspension that gives it the look and
ground clearance of a 4X4, an effect reinforced by its 16-inch tires.
The Troy Lee interior
features gray, two-tone seats; graphite-looking trim panels; leather-wrapped
steering wheel; and a Troy Lee Designs logo monogrammed in the door panels.
Most important, Troy Lee trucks are Cab Plus 4 configurations, giving
them four doors.
The four-door extended
cab design is much more convenient than the two-door extended cab. If
you have ever tried to wrestle anything (including your own body) out
of the rear cab of a two-door, extended-cab truck, you know the clearances
As for power plants,
the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the B2500 puts out 119 horsepower.
That's really marginal for a vehicle with a gross weight of about 3000
pounds. (For comparison, Toyota Tacoma's 2.4-liter 4-cylinder puts out
142-horsepower, and weighs 200 pounds less than a comparable Mazda B2500.
On the upside, the B2500 qualifies as a low-emission vehicle when equipped
with a returnless fuel system and an automatic transmission.
Speaking of fuel,
the B3000 V6 is a flexible fuel vehicle that can run on either regular
unleaded gasoline or E85 (a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent
gasoline). Powerwise, it's obviously a better choice than the 4-cylinder:
It turns out 143 horsepower and 180 foot-pounds of torque at 3750 rpm.
But if you want to
cruise around everything on the road, uphill and down, loaded and unloaded,
invest in the B4000 with the 4.0-liter V6. With an output of 160 horsepower
and 220 foot-pounds of torque, it will power any version of a B-truck
over and around anything with ease.
As far as transmissions
go, Mazda offers three: a 5-speed manual, a 4-speed auto, and a 5-speed
auto. The 5-speed automatic is standard on the B4000, optional on the
B-series Mazda 4X4s
feature Ford's pulse-vacuum hub-lock system. Introduced in 1999, the system
allows nearly instantaneous shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive at any speed.
Another plus is that, when the system is disengaged, the front drive train
is disconnected at the wheels. As a result, the trucks get better fuel
economy, better ride (less vibration), and lower noise levels.
This is a well-designed,
comfortable truck. The instruments are positioned so that they are nicely
framed by the steering wheel. The seats are plush and comfortable (at
least they were on our B3000 Troy Lee Edition test vehicle). All the controls
are thoughtfully and intuitively placed.
One of the best inside
features is the cruise controls. Mazda's controls are mounted on the steering
wheel and are illuminated, so you won't find yourself hitting the wrong
button in the dark because you can't remember where Set leaves off and
Resume resumes. Interestingly, the Ford Ranger we tested a few weeks later
didn't have lighted cruise control controls.
versions come with rear jump seats. Unless your passenger is a child or
a circus performer, don't take these inward-facing perches too seriously.
That space is better suited for carrying groceries (or helmets or chaps
in the Troy Lee Editions) than people.
We drove our Mazda
Troy Lee B3000 on Southern California freeways and on some dirt tracks
at the base of the Eastern Sierra Nevadas in Northern California. It handled
well on freeways - surprisingly well, considering it boasts a serious
off-road suspension between the tires and the body. While there was a
bit of a bounce at freeway speeds, it wasn't bad. The truck might look
like a 4X4 (which is wasn't), but it certainly didn't ride like one.
There was also a
surprising amount of wind noise for such a solidly built truck. We tracked
much of it down to the sliding rear window. A camper shell would certainly
take care of the problem.
While the B3000 Troy
Lee might look like a 4X4, it pays to remember that it isn't. We found
ourselves fishtailing on dirt roads. And we came close to getting stuck
in some mud on the shore of Lake Crowley. The big 16-inch tires and some
careful rocking got us out of trouble.
If you have to stomp
on the brakes the rear ABS keeps the truck in a nice, straight line, even
on dirt. Going over bumps (say your average speed bump), it had the rear
end bounce of an unloaded pickup. The off-road suspension helps on this
point, but the bounce is still pronounced. Aside from the occasional fishtail,
the truck was as much fun to drive off highway as it was on. Okay, it
was more fun to drive off road.
Besides being solid,
well-built, and fun to drive, one of the best things about driving a Troy
Lee-branded Mazda is the stares it gets. People don't seem to be able
to take their eyes off the truck, particularly the flames on the side.
While it might just be our imagination, it seemed that we got quicker
service than normal when we pulled into the yard at our local lumber store
from the young, might-be-a-dirt-biker yard worker who hustled out to help
us. In other words, people do notice the distinctive look of this truck.
That's no mean feat when you consider the Ford Ranger is ubiquitous.
Mazda is going after
the motocross, snowboarding, extreme sports crowd with the edgy Troy Lee
editions. The rest of the B-series line should appeal to the less radical
but sporty crowd. All the Mazda trucks look good and have a solid pedigree.
The B-Series trucks
are fun to drive, and comfortable enough to sooth aching bones at the
end of an extreme day. In short, we found that the Mazda B3000 Troy Lee
tasted great and was less filling than the regular trucks.
B-Series Specifications and Prices
B2500 SX 4X2
B3000 SX 4X2 Regular Cab
B2500 SE 4X2 Regular Cab
B3000 SE 4X2 Regular Cab
B3000 SE 4X4 Regular Cab
B2500 SE 4X2 Cab Plus
B3000 SE 4X2 Cab Plus
Plus 4 (4-door)
B3000 SE 4X2 Cab Plus 4
B3000 TL 4X2 Cab Plus 4
B4000 SE 4X2 Cab Plus 4
B3000 SE 4X4 Cab Plus 4
B4000 SE 4X4 Cab Plus 4
B4000 TL 4X4 Cab Plus 4
SOHC 8v inline-4
3.0-liter OHV 12v V6
4.0-liter OHV 12v V6
anti-lock brakes (4-wheel ABS optional on B4000); dual airbags w/passenger
side deactivation switch; full-box section front frame rails; steel
side door beams
years/50,000 miles, plus Mazda Emergency Roadside Service for the duration
of the warranty
Edition 4X2 ($18,445)
manual transmission; power rack-and-pinion steering; power brakes; 16-in.
alloy wheels; raised white letter tires; Troy Lee designs graphics;
front fog lights; Immoblizer antitheft system; leather-wrapped steering
wheel; CFC-free air conditioning; AM/FM/CD stereo with 4 speakers
transmission ($1095); trailer hitch ($140); Convenience package ($700)
includes bedliner, sliding rear window, opening rear quarter window,
tilt steering wheel, cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls,
floor mats; Power Package ($535) includes power mirrors, power windows,
power door locks, remote keyless entry with two transmitters; destination
143 hp @
@ 3000 rpm
room, front: 39.2/52.7/42.2
(1620 w optional payload pkg)
wishbone/semi-floating live axle
otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
effective as of August 27, 1999 and do not include manufacturer's destination
and delivery charges.
Information not available or not applicable.