SNOQUALMIE, Wash. — Traveling at a high rate of speed through a northern-woods evergreen forest on a twisty and bumpy off-road track, I approach a tight corner, apply brakes while driving in a straight line and throw the truck sideways. It responds beautifully, with crisp steering, potent power, and tires that grip the soft dirt below.
Back on throttle, I encounter a series of undulating bumps and notice that the suspension travel and ground clearance of this pickup allow me to carry far greater speeds than I would have imagined possible and, despite the fact that I have no weight in the bed of this pickup, its handling is predictable. Yee Haw!! I dream momentarily that I’m participating in an off-road race and running at the front of the pack. Truth is, I’m simply putting the freshened Mazda B-Series truck through its paces and am delighted by what I experience with this newest 2001 version.
Believe it or not, Mazda has been selling pickup trucks to the American market for three full decades. And, over that time, this Japanese automaker and Ford subsidiary has developed a loyal customer base that appreciates these compact, affordable trucks as an alternative to more pricey American models.
For its latest revision, the 2001 B-Series sports an eye-catching new front-end design, increased engine performance for all three engine choices and a slightly raised suspension system on the 4x2 Dual Sport models. It’s clear that Mazda’s focus is to provide as many as possible alternatives for truck buyers within the compact pickup category.
The B-Series—which now includes the newly named B2300 (replacing the entry-level B2500), the intermediate class B3000, and the top-of-the-line B4000—ranges in price from $12,225 (remarkably affordable for a truck) up to $22,220. Within this nearly $10,000 price difference are options like two- or four-wheel-drive, Cab Plus Extended Cab, and engine sizes ranging from 2.3 to 4.0 liters.