NEW FOR 2008:

– Reduced ride height
– Step bars and Class III hitch receiver standard on 4×4 and Cab Plus models
– Front suspension skid plate standard on 4×4 models
– Added security bracket for powertrain control module for additional anti-theft protection
– SIRIUS Satellite Radio standard on SE Plus 4×4 models and included with Power Package
– New push/pull window switches with revised door finish panel and switch bezel

For 2008, the Mazda B-Series of pickup trucks undergoes minor changes, mostly to trim items. Most notably, ride height is reduced by 16 to 35 mm.

A Mazda-trimmed version of the Ford Ranger, the B-Series is available in four versions. Regular Cab models come with a 2.3-litre four-cylinder, in 4×2 configuration only, as the B2300 in SX trim. Cab Plus models have rear-hinged back doors that can only be operated when the front doors are open, and come in three lines. The B3000 uses a 3.0-litre V6 in 4×2 configuration, in DS trim. The B4000 uses a 4.0-litre V6, in 4×2 configuration and DS trim, or in 4×4 configuration and SE trim.

The B2300, B3000 and B4000 4×4 use a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a five-speed automatic. The B4000 in 4×2 configuration comes only with the five-speed automatic.

Features on the B2300 include 15-inch steel wheels, block heater, manual mirrors, sliding rear window, privacy glass, intermittent wipers, four cargo box tie-down hooks, four-pin trailer tow wire harness, removable tailgate, CD/MP3 stereo with audio jack, 60/40 split cloth bench seat, and tire pressure monitoring system. Available options include air conditioning.

The B3000 adds 15-inch alloy wheels, limited-slip axle, wheel lip mouldings, fog lamps, Class III hitch receiver, side-facing cloth rear jump seats, and anti-theft system. Available options include air conditioning, power mirrors, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, tilt wheel, and power locks and windows.

The 4×2 B4000 adds air conditioning, power mirrors, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, tilt wheel with audio controls, power locks with keyless entry, and power windows.

The 4×4 B4000 builds on the B3000, adding 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, skid plates, chrome grille and bumpers, front tow hooks. An available SE Plus package adds power mirrors, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, leather-wrapped wheel, cruise control, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, and sport bucket seats.

The Mazda B-Series is a small truck compared to its competitors which have bulked up to midsize; and that’s a bonus: not everyone wants or needs a big truck. Still, shorter drivers may find that the Mazda’s seating position favours larger drivers, with a long reach to the clutch. Unique in the Mazda line-up is the B-Series’ basic warranty: 3 years or 60,000 km, as opposed to 80,000 in other Mazda vehicles, which puts it in line with the Ford Ranger’s coverage.

It’s an older design and lacks some of the refinement in other pickups, but its low price is appealing to those who want a basic truck, and it’s nice to see that adding 4×4 capability doesn’t automatically add all the luxury items as well, for those who just want it for handling tough or dirty jobs. The rear jump seats in the Cab Plus are uncomfortable for adults, but they fold out of the way for cargo space. They’re suitable for older children, but must not be used with supplementary infant or child seats.

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