Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4×4 . Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Mazda Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Mazda B-Series

Ah, the mid-Nineties. I had hair, a 33-inch waist, and a wife with whom I was going to live happily ever after. Funny how drastically things have changed. Or have they? If we’re talking trucks, your best bet for waxing nostalgic these days is the Mazda B-Series, a.k.a. the Ford Ranger. The mid-Nineties saw the erasure of the original B-Series in favour of the rebadged Blue Oval. Some folks are still convinced that their Mazda IS a Mazda, even with the obvious Ford logos staring back at them. Even Mazda itself has left the top off the correction fluid a little too long in the propaganda department, as evidenced by this blurb on the mazda.ca webbie: “Handling more in line with the Mazda sports car DNA.” Blink! I’ve never had an RX-8 rear axle jump seven inches to the left after hitting a dip at a paltry 50 clicks.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4×4 . Click image to enlarge

On the plus side, the B-Series/Ranger is an environmental darling, when equipped in four-cylinder five-speed trim, as per Transport Canada. There have been plenty of reports circulating surrounding the death of the truck, as plant closings will often do. (What an opportune time to FINALLY get the sensible Ford Transit on these shores.) Whatever its fate, the B-Series is, as we say in the car business, “For Sale”. This week’s Inside Story tester is the Cab Plus 4X4 version, with the SE Plus option package and MSRP of $25,790. (Pricing shown does not include freight or regional incentives.)

The Cockpit

The four-spoke wheel includes oversized cruise control tabs, while the column gets tilt positioning via a traditional lever pull. Wiper controls are found on the turn signal stalk, while the five-speed automatic shift is a column mount, with an overdrive cancel switch.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4×4 . Click image to enlarge

Instrumentation is Spartan, with only RPMs and engine temperature present. One would think that any truck equipped with a receiver hitch would start adding a transmission temperature gauge. The driver’s door pod includes the power mirror controls, and an auto-descent for the driver’s side door glass. Headlamps are a dial switch, with no auto setting.

The Centre Stack

You can really smell the Ford here, with the obvious HVAC script and CD head unit. Controls are easy to manipulate, with the 4X4 transfer case dial switch found to the left, at eye level. While the dual 12-volt powerpoints are appreciated, the oversized plugs have no tether, allowing them to roam freely around the floorboards. At least the stereo system gets an auxiliary music player jack.

Cubbies!

I keep thinking of those screw-in consoles that were all the rage in the days of vanning.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4×4 . Click image to enlarge

The cupholders get removable bladders for clean-up, and minimal depth. The coin holder is out in the open, so stay out of neighbourhoods that turn a blind eye to crack dens. Flip back the armrest, and you’ll find an inner cubby, with an organizational grid for those CDs that all the kids are listening to these days. Oh, wait, that was 1995! The front storage floor cubby is wide open, with a hint of Canadian Tire aftermarket. Directly below the HVAC controls is an inner cubby, best suited for the MP3 player or flip phone stow. Of particular note are the black hole-sized voids in the rear swing-out doors. Both driver and passenger doors incorporate thin lower door pockets. The non-locking glovebox can barely hold the factory literature. Two low-depth cupholders are found in the rear, part of the jacking tools cover.

The Overhead

There’s only one mirror pane, unlit, on the passenger side visor. (And boy, did that cheese off the first wife!) The visors do not provide for sun-shading slide action. And the winner of the IS Complete Afterthought Award goes to the roof-mounted SIRIUS radio antenna! I’m sure this could get mistaken for some form of tree slug in rainy climates, resulting in dents and scrapes from snow brush whacks.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4×4 . Click image to enlarge
Seat treat

There’s little to report on articulation abilities for the front seats, though it should be noted that the upholstery finish is truck-tough, without feeling like sandpaper. The rear jump seats are best suited for ages 8-to-12, preferably vegetarians. This is one of the few vehicles still in existence that gets away with lap belts for the rear passengers.

Cargo embargo

Forget about finding an exciting aluminum track system with tie-down cleats here; this is old school! The interior box sides have lumber indents, to allow for the creation of a second level of cargo stowage. (Very 1988.) The interior cargo cleats look more intent on tearing ropes than holding onto them. There are the typical box rail cavities for tie-down plugs, or fashionable stake-box sides.

Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
Inside Story: 2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4x4  mazda inside story
2008 Mazda B4000 Cab Plus 4×4 . Click image to enlarge
Spare care

The theft factor is reduced for the wind-down full-size spare, thanks to the removable keyed lock cylinder. Mazda will change that rubber biscuit for you during the first three years or 60,000 kilometres of ownership. Interesting to note is that the B-Series roadside allowance is 20,000 kilometres less than the rest of the Mazda stable. Hmmmm….

The mill

Practically every fill point on the 207-horsepower 4.0-litre V6 is easy-access, though one must question the thought process behind choosing the same colour coding for both the oil and the transmission dipsticks.

Tough Truck Stuff

I felt it was necessary to add this category for truck reviews, for those that like to get a little dirt on the tires. There are dual tow hooks up front, as well as the first of three skid plates. The remaining plates are found guarding the transfer case and the gas tank. Salt-belt residents take note: the B-Series is definitely built to corrode, as evidenced by the open gaps on the bottoms of the rocker panels. Road rash is kept to a minimum, with rigid mud flaps front and rear.

The Verdict

One has to ask how far a truck should go when it comes to the science of future development. There is the work purpose, which could easily be served by rubber-floored beasts, secure in their gross vehicle weight ratings. The issue for most truck buyers is that the utilitarian quotient during their ownership years is next to nil. They like to know that six feet of stuff void is behind them, and get their interior comfort gravy too. And 1995-thinking simply doesn’t cut it anymore. One star.

Next week: 2009 Toyota Corolla




About Paul Williams

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).