B4000 4X4 model shown. Images: Mazda. Click image to enlarge
By Jil McIntosh
We are a force with which to be reckoned.
It’s estimated that women purchase half of all new vehicles, and influence eighty per cent of all sales, but it’s still a man’s automotive world, and in many cases, we end up buying a vehicle that doesn’t necessarily fit us. That shouldn’t happen. Women need to start on the showroom floor, and continue through with an in-depth test drive. The vehicle needs to fit you; you shouldn’t have to adapt to the vehicle.
What brought this home was the 2004 Mazda B4000. Like an increasing number of women, I like trucks. And as many women do, I thought that a compact truck like the B-series would be a sure thing – smaller person and smaller truck seem like a natural fit. But I discovered that it ain’t necessarily so. B-series may be a compact envelope, but it’s still designed for bigger drivers. That’s not to say that it can’t work for smaller women (or men), but you may have to select specific features and options.
My two-wheel-drive tester didn’t have a tilt wheel (oddly, it’s only available on the 4×4). To sit my 5-foot-4 frame safely back from the airbag and still reach the throttle, I had to sit slightly offside. If the truck had had a standard transmission, I might not have been able to drive it. I couldn’t have put two pedals all the way down at the same time. My 6-foot-4 neighbour had no trouble fitting, though – something I wouldn’t have expected in a compact pickup.
Made by Ford, Mazda’s B-series (which also emerges as the Ford Ranger) is available in three lines. The base 2.3-litre, in-line 4-cylinder, 2-wheel-drive B2300 comes in regular cab only for $17,395. The mid-range 3.0-litre V6 B3000 is 2-wheel-drive only, at $18,395 in regular cab and $21,895 in cab-plus. The 4.0-litre V6 is cab-plus only, and is $24,845 in 2-wheel-drive, or $28,495 for 4×4. An automatic transmission adds $1,380 to each.
“Cab-plus” adds a second set of rear-hinged access doors, which open for easy loading without a pillar in the way. Two small centre-facing rear jump seats fold flat for storage, or swing down to provide uncomfortable seating for transportation-desperate adults. They’re great for older children, but parents take note: they must not be used with child seats.
My B4000’s ride was firm but not unpleasant; with the “carification” of so many utility vehicles, it’s nice to drive a truck that actually feels like one. The seats are comfortable, and the truck feels tight and well-made. Controls are simple and easy, and there are lots of cubbies for small storage.
This is a decent truck, but if you’re smaller, take your time and assume nothing. Check your seating position and be sure you can push every pedal to the floor. Make sure you can reach every control; if anything is tough to access, look into options or models that make it easier. Something that’s wrong doesn’t become right the longer you drive it. Compromise is for human relationships, not for a woman and her truck.
|Options||$1,380 (5-speed automatic transmission)|
|Price as tested||$27,450|
|Type||4-door, 4 passenger compact pickup truck|
|Layout||longitudinal front engine/rear-wheel-drive|
|Engine||4.0 litre V6, SOHC|
|Horsepower||207 @ 5250 rpm|
|Torque||238 ft-lb. @ 3000 rpm|
|Transmission||5-speed automatic transmission|
|Curb weight||1667 kg (3675 lb.)|
|Max. trailer weight||2613 kg (5760 lb.)|
|Max. payload||572 kg (1260 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||3197 mm (125.9 in.)|
|Length||5123 mm (201.7 in.)|
|Width||1763 mm ( 69.4 in.)|
|Height||1715 mm ( 67.5 in.)|
|Ground clearance||185 mm (7.3 in.)|
|Bed inside length||1824 mm (71.8 in.)|
|Bed inside width||1320 mm (52.0 in.)|
|Bed inside depth||419 mm (16.5 in.)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 15.4 l/100 km (18 mpg) (Imperial gallons)|
|Hwy: 11.4 l/100 km (25 mpg) (Imperial gallons)|
|Warranty||3 yrs/80,000 km|