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SEE ALSO: Mazda Buyer's Guide

1996 MAZDA B4000 4x4 EXT.CAB

by Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 20,715
     Price As Tested                                    $ 23,975
     Engine Type                             4.0 Liter V6 w/EFI*
     Engine Size                                 245 cid/4015 cc
     Horsepower                                   160 @ 4200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               220 @ 3000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  125.4"/69.4"/202.7"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3.52 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  20.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P265/75R15
     Brakes (F/R)                              Disc-ABS/drum-ABS
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                 85 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            16/21/20          
     0-60 MPH                                        9.3 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16.8 seconds @ 77 mph
     Max towing capacity                             5600 Pounds

     * Electronic fuel injection

(Mazda has been in the mini-pickup truck business in this country for nearly a quarter of a century. Its original offerings were strictly utilitarian machines with small four-cylinder engines and bone-jarring suspensions. Bob Hagin says the latest Mazda pickup they tried, the B4000 4X4 Cab Plus, is a far cry from the '74 model he used to haul rocks. His son Matt says that overall, a truck is still a truck.)

BOB - In this age of catchy names and model image-building, Mazda seems to be stuck in the past by giving this really fancy pickup the almost-military designation of B4000. Maybe if it was called the Majestic or the Montana it would have better success in the sports truck market. I almost expected to find a government field manual in the glove box instead of the owner's handbook.

MATT - That's true, Dad, and no matter what the ads say or how much they liken this Mazda pickup to a passenger car, it's still a truck. The chassis is a separate ladder frame, the front suspension is a rugged swing axle and the rear end is still carried on a pair of leaf springs. Underneath the rounded quasi-aerodynamic body work and fancy interior upholstery, there is still a heavy-duty truck. But the dimensions are slightly bigger than most of the competition, so it gives more leg room.

BOB - It's a good thing that Mazda gave us the extended cab model with the jump seats in back. Asking anybody to sit back there for very long could be deemed cruel and unusual punishment, but it does give the driver room to stretch out and a safe place to stow gear. That's one complaint I have against short-cab pickups. If you use it as everyday transportation, you either have to jamb your stuff under the seat-back, put it on the passenger's seat or install a lock box in the bed.

MATT - Most people don't pack around as much useless equipment as you do, Dad, but it's nice to have that extra room if you need it. I couldn't put the baby's seat back there but Suzanne fit pretty well. And when we put the baby's seat up front, I was able to shut off the passenger's side air bag. That's a major safety concern for families with infants.

BOB - You shouldn't take kids that little in a truck, Matt, but I guess it's nice to be able to if it's necessary. Even though this Mazda has a/c and a cassette player, you've got to remember that its primary purpose is to work. Although the 4.0 liter V6 engine is pretty antiquated with push rods and only two valves per cylinder, it puts out 160 horses, which is plenty for the job. Its carrying capacity is a bit less than 1500 pounds, but with the 3.73 axle ratio and the four-speed automatic transmission that our test rig carried, it can tow 5600 pounds - but I think it would be breathing hard pulling something that big.

MATT - I'd wish we'd had the opportunity to try this B4000 off the road. It can be taken in and out of four-wheel-drive from the driver's seat and all four corners are equipped with anti-skid brakes. On LE models, the tires size is upped a step to P265/75R15 and the fancy wheels are made of aluminum alloy. But if the truck was going to be used in the rough-stuff very much, I think that the SE model's steel wheels would be a better choice. They're a little heavier, but they're the same size and I think that they'd stand up better to being run over rocks and through streams.

BOB - Matt, I think that most of the high-end, tricked-out trucks like the B4000 that we tried are like the majority of the sports/utility vehicles that are sold in the U.S. The heaviest duty they'll ever see is when the owner has to put it into four-wheel drive low range to pull a power boat up the launch ramp. Maybe an occasional trip to pick up yard stuff or groceries, but that's about it. They're just too fancy to risk getting banged up.

MATT - And with a bed liner and a matching camper shell, they're respectable enough to take anywhere. And that's more than I can say about that second-hand '74 Mazda you had for years, Dad.

BOB - It ran great and did the job but it was so beat-up your mother wouldn't even let me park it in front of the house.

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