2008 Mazda B-Series Truck Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
July 2, 2008

Buying tip

The 2008 Mazda B-Series is an odd fit in Mazda showrooms, where sportscars and sports sedans take up much of the floor space. It's a slow seller,

The 2008 Mazda B-Series is an inexpensive, fuel-saving alternative to big pickups, but it feels every bit of its advanced age.

TheCarConnection.com's editors researched a wide range of road tests of the 2008 Mazda B-Series to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com's resident experts also drove the new Mazda B-Series to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

The 2008 Mazda B-Series is a clone of the Ford Ranger, and shares its dated styling and chassis design--as well as its good construction quality, its frugal four-cylinder option, its good crash-test performance, and its high towing capacity.

The 2008 Mazda B-Series comes in two- and four-door models, with rear- or four-wheel drive. The Cab Plus version has two small access doors that make it easier to reach into the cargo area behind the seats, but there's no real four-door option. The B-Series hasn't seen a complete makeover in a long time, and it shows, though the materials used in its cabin are put together well.

The Mazda B-Series is available as the B2300, with a base 143-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, or as the B4000 with a 4.0-liter V-6 that generates 207 horses. Each can be fitted to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic transmission. It can get 21/26 mpg, great figures for a basic pickup. The four-cylinder is grouchy, but frugal enough to indulge its slow acceleration. The 207-hp V-6 is reasonably smooth and powerful, though fuel economy drops to 14/17 mpg with the automatic.

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Handling is trucklike, and steering is vague even on rear-drive vehicles. Braking performance is acceptable. Its six-foot bed is useful for some weekend and professional tasks, but the ubiquitous 4x8 sheet of plywood won't fit in the Mazda B-Series. Towing is rated at 5,600 pounds.

The Mazda B-Series' front bench seats are comfortable for a few hours but sit low. The Cab Plus versions have two fold-down seats that should be used in emergencies only. There's no cargo-storage system inside, but a fold-down armrest and a decent-sized glove box are found inside.

The 2008 Mazda B-Series has a standard tire pressure monitoring system and an iPod jack; options include the off-road package, a 510-watt audio system, and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Anti-lock brakes and dual airbags are standard on all versions. No curtain or side airbags are offered, nor are stability and traction control. The 2008 Mazda B-Series is rated at "acceptable" by the IIHS for front impacts; it scores five and four stars for front and side impacts from the NHTSA, but its rollover rating of three stars points out the limits of its taller, older design.


2008 Mazda B-Series Truck


The 2008 Mazda B-Series' styling isn’t as notable as its functionality.

The 2008 Mazda B-Series trucks still look like their Ford Ranger counterparts after more than a decade in production.

As Edmunds puts it, the 2008 Mazda is "essentially a Ford Ranger wearing different clothes." TheCarConnection.com notes that very few sources have much to say about the Mazda 2008 B-Series' outward appearance at all, except for Kelley Blue Book, which comments that for 2008, Mazda has performed "a front-end freshening, with more brightwork around the grille and headlamps and a raised 'power dome' hood."

Car and Driver expresses disappointment that there is no four-door club cab available, although an extended cab is offered as an option. Edmunds reports that the Mazda 2008 B-Series has remained true to its roots by staying relatively small while similar pickups have grown in size, remaining a "true compact."

Autoblog reports "four different cabin configurations" for the 2008 Mazda B-Series and says that "the interior is fairly elegant." Car and Driver considers this Mazda 2008 model's interior dated; "no hiding the fact that the fundamental design work on this truck...aesthetically, was done a decade ago." Edmunds is in agreement here, stating that "the cabin has a dated feel." ConsumerGuide does note that the Mazda has a "convenient dashboard design with easy access to audio and climate controls."

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2008 Mazda B-Series Truck


The 2008 Mazda B-Series is a reasonably capable workhorse and a good off-road performer, but the dated design hurts ride and steering.

As with its styling, there's not much to excite the reviewers at TheCarConnection.com or elsewhere about the 2008 Mazda B-Series’ performance.

There are two different engines available for the 2008 Mazda B-Series truck, and the number tells you which has what: the 2300 is powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and the 4000 a 4.0-liter V-6, reports Edmunds, who also says that "for 2008, the Mazda B-Series family lost the B3000," which was the 3.0 liter V-6. At "143 horsepower, 154 pound-feet of torque" for B2300 and "207 hp, 238 lb-ft" for the B4000, this source also reports that compared to its current rivals, the Mazda 2008 B-Series is "outclassed." Car and Driver agrees, saying it is "underpowered versus most of the competing mid-size pickups." However, ConsumerGuide reports that the 4.0-liter models they tested "have fine power at all speeds and mesh nicely with the automatic transmission."

All B-Series 2008 Mazda trucks are equipped "with either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic," reports Cars.com. According to Kelley Blue Book, when equipped with "the five-speed manual, the 2.3 performs adequately, although you have to get it past 4000 rpm to feel any inspired acceleration."

Although underpowered, the Mazda 2008 truck does offer a distinct advantage at the gas station. According to ConsumerGuide, EPA estimates for the truck range from 14/17 mpg for the B4000 with automatic transmission to 21/26 mpg for the B2300 with a manual.

Despite the fact that it rides fairly high up above the ground, ConsumerGuide reports the Mazda B-Series corners “with a stable feel, moderate body lean, and nicely weighted steering," but adds that suspension components "jiggle some on rough roads but absorb big bumps fairly well." It's comfortable, perhaps, but not compelling. Also, the "flexy chassis and tepid powerplants reduce fun-to-drive index to almost zero," says Car and Driver.

Despite the engine's lackluster performance, when equipped with optional four-wheel drive (available only on the 4000), this 2008 Mazda makes a "great off-road warrior," according to Kelley Blue Book. This source, along with ConsumerGuide, emphasizes that the four-wheel drive system is for off-road or bad weather driving only, and should not be engaged on dry, paved roads.

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2008 Mazda B-Series Truck

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Mazda B-Series trucks are surprisingly comfortable for what they are, but don't expect a luxurious ride.

It's a pickup truck--a vehicle historically built for utility, not comfort—but the 2008 Mazda B-Series is better in this regard than many similar vehicles.

Car and Driver says there's "not much passenger space" in the Mazda 2008, although Cars.com reports a "roomy cab with a standard three-place front bench seat." As for Mazda B-Series' standard cab vs. extended, the latter offers slightly more headroom and storage room behind the seats, but beyond this, there's little difference between the two. ConsumerGuide notes that the 2008 Mazda's extended "cab model has slightly more seat travel and seatback recline angle than class rivals," but Kelley Blue Book advises that the small jump seats behind the front row are "best used for short trips only."

Cars.com reports that Mazda 2008 "occupants get a fold-down armrest, and storage pockets are installed on the seatbacks." ConsumerGuide also likes the "better-than-average behind-seat storage space" of the regular cab, and says the extended version "can carry lots of stuff." Overall, the 2008 Mazda B-Series is "designed for the active person who needs to haul stuff like jet skis, scuba gear and mountain bikes," according to Autoblog; there's plenty of room for all that gear in the generous 6-foot bed as reported by Cars.com.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the seats of the 2008 Mazda "have a richer pattern and the instrument panel features [more readable] white-faced gauges." While not a glowing endorsement, ConsumerGuide says that "interior materials are appropriate for the price, and all models we've tested have been solidly built." As for noise, this source reports "the interior is well isolated from engine, wind, and road noise," though the Mazda 2008 is not "as car-quiet as the Dodge Dakota."

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2008 Mazda B-Series Truck


The 2008 Mazda B-Series scores acceptably in crash tests, but many modern safety features are not offered.

The 2008 Mazda B-Series has most of the basic safety features found on comparable vehicles reviewed by TheCarConnection.com.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the driver is well protected in collisions. Front- and driver-side impacts both received a rating of five stars with the regular cab of the Mazda 2008; scores for the passenger and driver with the extended cab version of the 2008 Mazda were slightly lower. Both variants received a rollover rating of three. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2008 Mazda B-Series an overall rating of "acceptable” for frontal offset crash tests.

According to Edmunds, standard safety features on all variants of the Mazda 2008 include anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags, and a tire pressure monitoring system; however, "all other modern safety features, such as stability control and side curtain airbags, are not available." Cars.com reports that the 2008 Mazda's passenger-side airbag can be deactivated with the use of a key-activated switch and confirms that "side-impact airbags are not available."

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2008 Mazda B-Series Truck


The 2008 Mazda B-Series is a relic in terms of features.

The 2008 Mazda B-Series is a basic work truck, with very few advanced features offered.

Edmunds reports "two trim levels: base B2300, base B4000 and B4000 SE,” and that four-wheel drive is standard on B4000 trucks. ConsumerGuide tells us that four-wheel drive is completely unavailable for the 2300 trim, as does Edmunds: "The B2300 comes only as a two-wheel-drive regular cab." This model of the 2008 Mazda does include AM/FM stereo and a sliding rear window, however.

Cars.com reports some other minor goodies available for the B-Series 2008 Mazda: A fold-down armrest and storage pockets installed on the seatbacks are standard on all models. Kelley Blue Book notes power steering, a tachometer, and front cup holders are also included on all of these Mazda 2008 model's trims.

Optional equipment for the Mazda 2008 B2300, according to Edmunds, includes "foglights, skid plates, a limited-slip differential, 16-inch alloy wheels, upgraded upholstery, cruise control and a bedliner"; these features are standard on the B4000. Features like iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as power sliding rear windows, are unavailable.

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