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2006 Mazda B-Series

2006 Mazda B-Series New Vehicle Review
Martha Hindes

Mazda B-Series
2006 Mazda B-Series

Leave it to the "Zoom Zoom" crowd to think of a new twist. Mazda calls its B-Series pickup the "load lugging sports sedan of the truck world." Sporty driving is almost synonymous with Mazda, so the designation is probably a natural. Think Mazda and even with its minivan you get attention to handling, ride and road authority. As any Mazda owner can tell you, other roadworthy necessities can pale in importance.

But the self-described title also is a way to differentiate this version from its Ranger kissing cousin over at Ford. These two pickups remain a less gas guzzling compact size just as nearly everyone else's has grown in overall stature -- and undoubtedly in fuel consumption as well.

B-Series come in rear-drive, or optional four-wheel-drive with a shade less fuel efficiency. Mazda offers the expected "driver's" five-speed manual as standard. A smooth, five-speed automatic is available for those less inclined to play. Three engines grunt out power from base to bold capability. The entry level's B2300 gets a 2.3-liter, 143-HP four that ekes out an enviable 24/29 MPG in manual mode; 22/26 with five-speed auto. A 3.0-liter, 154-HP V-6 powers the mid-range B3000 (18/23 MPG manual; bested by 18/22 with auto). The 4.0-liter B4000, with 207 horsepower and manual gets 16/19 MPG, or 16/20 with auto.

New colors add splash for 2006. Volcanic Red and Redfire replace Performance and Sunburst Red; Dark Satin Green just disappears. Some models get standard anti-theft, letting Mazda truckers work or play with more abandon.

A Dual Sport version with wide, high-riding stance, has road racing's "pre-runner" feel. For slopping through mucky trenches, all B-Series compacts get standard front and rear mudguards.

Mazda calls its pickup a "value story" for 2006, that sports the mandated usability of a small, functional pickup for hauling or towing, with enough tough and tie-downs to handle bumpy roads. With an entry sticker of $15,340 (base of $21.9,000 for top line B4000), it also might get a best deal at the showroom since its redesign dates to 2001. And while the splash of new products get the most attention, time tested fine tuning can mean getting it absolutely right. Just ask Mazda. They give their "B" a solid "A."