Is it any good?
Is the latest generation of the Mazda BT-50 in 2021 a viable ute for 4WD touring Australia? We’re talking weekend camping trips to full-blown touring around Australia like many Grey Nomads aspire to do since they can’t easily travel overseas!
A lot of ute manufacturers seem to collaborate and share platforms to help save costs while also leveraging each other’s strengths to improve their vehicles.
Previously, the Mazda BT-50 was the cheaper alternative to the more premium Ford Ranger. They shared all the same chassis and running gear.
However, that collaboration is over, making way for a new partnership with a shared parts agreement with the Isuzu D-Max. Check out this article: Is Mazda BT-50 the same as Isuzu D-Max? to see what the main differences are.
The 2021 Mazda BT-50 shares the same running gear as the D-Max. They are even made in the same factory in Thailand.
What’s interesting is that Mazda is now the more premium option at a slightly higher price point.
This review will determine just what we’re working with when buying a 2021 Mazda BT-50. Will it be worth the extra coin to have the latest model?
How BT-50 Has Evolved
In 2006 Mazda rejected the idea that a Ute had to look like a crossover to bring in the utilitarian minded consumers and built a tough-looking ute.
It looked much like the Nissan of the day but was dawned with the Mazda badge. Built-in Thailand and then shipped to Australia, a short journey that has been made since its inception.
Fast forward to the top tier 2021 Mazda BT-50 Thunder with all the luxury styling and power to back it up and you can see just how far the B-series has come.
The Thunder model option makes the 2006 B-series look like a wooden wheeled buggy in comparison. Featuring options like a 9-inch infotainment system, sat-nav, heated mirrors and seats, dual-zone climate control and much much more.
The Mazda B-series Lineage
If Mazda kept with the B-Series name it might have been the longest ute lineage ever. Nonetheless, Mazda has been in the ute market since 1964 and for the most part has been a formidable competitor amongst other car companies.
Keeping with the ladder frame foundation over the years, the latest model Mazda 4×4 Ute offers a 3.0 turbo diesel engine and price ranges between an estimated $44,000 – $68,990 (+ on-road costs) without optional accessories.
Is The 2021 Mazda BT-50 4×4 Any Good?
The most attention-grabbing revision of the 2021 Mazda BT-50 is definitely it’s styling, inside and out. The design language they are using now seems to be a leapfrog jump compared to its predecessors, but with that said, that’s just our subjective opinion.
What do you think?
The new interior has all the buzz for 2021 and it’s 100% Mazda styling. Including a 7” (9” on Thunder models) infotainment system with Android™ Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay®. The Thunder model also includes some very plush leather bucket style seats. Mazda have always excelled with technology, something that Isuzu has also no doubt benefited from in this partnership.
The safety additions have reached a 5-star ANCAP rating while being functional for the user behind the wheel. Such features as lane keep assist, parking sensors, and autonomous emergency braking come standard in the base XT 4×4 models (more on this later).
With the 3.0L turbo diesel and the Isuzu running gear we think this could be a solid foundation for years to come, however, as with anything new, only time will tell.
Australian conditions can be quite harsh but the new Mazda BT-50 has all the creature comforts of a mid-size SUV while having the capabilities of an offroad ute with a locking rear differential, hill descent control and low range as standard.
In the 4×4 models, you also get a slightly higher ground clearance than previous models at 240mm and a water level of 800mm
Four-wheel drive models feature electronically switchable 2H, 4H, and 4L.
Major Seating Changes For Freestyle Cab
One thing many of the vehicle reviews online miss is that in order to maintain a 5-star ANCAP rating, Mazda had to remove the rear seat from the Freestyle Cab models.
We see this as a major change, because the biggest appeal of the Freestyle Cab models, other than that you can fit more secure storage in the cabin compared to a single cab, was that if you had to, you could take more than 2 people.
Many of our customers loved this, and the extended cab models of the Hilux, Ranger, Mazda & Isuzu were definitely the most popular. Because you could fit a full-size Trayon 1980 or the more popular Trayon 1980 Camper, while still having the option to take someone to the airport.
We are just hoping that this is limited to the Mazda & Isuzu, and won’t extend to the new models of the Hilux & Ranger.
So if you need to occasionally carry more than two people, your only option is the Dual Cab models for the Mazda.
Major Warranty Changes If You Add an Aluminium Tray
A very common trend in Australia is to buy a top-spec model of a ute, remove the factory style side tub and put an Aluminium tray on the back to build your ultimate touring or work vehicle. Or in the case of the Ranger & Hilux, they offer top-spec models in cab chassis.
A tray gives you the added benefit of a larger flat surface to put things like a pallet, toolbox or even a slide on camper.
However, Mazda has said you can only put a tray on to the entry model Cab Chassis variants, otherwise you will void the warranty and possibly insurance because if you have the tub removed it is considered “tampering” with the sensors.
So, this means if you plan to tour Australia in a slide on camper, or just want a nice ute with a tray for work, you have to choose the base models, rather than the more comfortable high tech, top of the line models.
Ford and Toyota offer the top spec models in cab/chassis to allow for tradies and adventurists to add a tray.
They make it in the factory without a tub and the sensors are redistributed to compensate which negates the “tampering” scenario when you want a comfy top-spec cab ute with a hard working rear tray for loads
The BT-50 Interior Features
The redesign has everything to ensure your trip to the pitch or the worksite is as plush and functional as it can be.
All Mazda BT-50 models come standard with autonomous emergency braking, turn assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention monitoring and anti-lock brakes.
There are also front, side and curtain airbags, plus a driver’s knee airbag and a front-centre airbag. Automatic models feature lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control that reads the traffic around you to keep a safe distance from other drivers on the road.
The styling of the interior has received a full makeover, and Mazda it’s a definite upgrade to the utilitarian bunch.
The subtle yet stylish interior seems underdone a bit. It’s functional of course but advertised as a premium-class interior and it isn’t until you get into the dual cab Thunder model. At the given price point more options should be available or rather standard. With only one colour option of leather seats, it might leave consumers wanting more.
- 0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay and DAB+ digital radio
- Cloth upholstery (leather options available)
- Carpeted floors
- Air-conditioning with zone control
- Power windows
- Cruise control (automatic is adaptive)
- Reversing camera with in-dash viewing
- Satellite navigation
- Heated front seats
The Exterior Kodo Design Elements
Exterior styling went through the wringer for 2021, perhaps with the drive gear sorted with Isuzu, Maza was able to focus on design. Massive changes to the grille and body lines, nothing is the same yet it still has hints of that “Mazda” look.
The aggressive grille design and sharp angles give the BT-50 some flare. Where previous models fell short and felt simple in the design category, everything was a bit too sharp.
The Kodo design language elements shine through.
Mazda brings both single cab and the 4-door to the table across the options available in either 4×2 or 4×4. A 6-speed automatic and manual gearbox are available for all 4×4 models.
What engine does a 2021 BT-50 have?
The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder intercooled engine is more than capable but is, unfortunately, the only option for this ute.
However, we are happy about that. Many of the competitors are forced to go with a sub-3L engine due to emission standards. So we are glad to see that this 3.0L engine is here to stay for a while longer.
This engine produces 140kW of power and 450 Nm of torque and is mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Everything this engine has to offer all the while maintaining 7.7L/100 km of urban fuel economy and plenty of torque for the test. The six-speed automatic option gets you an additional litre of fuel economy in both the 4×2 and 4×4 setup!
Even still, the heavily revised engine offers heaps of torque when you need to test it. Though not as responsive as the VW Amarok V6, it does get the job done well.
- 0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine
- Six-speed automatic transmission and manual transmission
- Power: 140kW@3600rpm.
- Torque: 450Nm@1600rpm.
Payload, Towing & GVM
Standard GVM for the BT-50 4×4 models is 3100kg, with a GCM 5950kg.
The payload ranges from 887kg to 1220kg, depending on which model you choose. The single cab and extra cab have higher payloads, while the dual-cab Thunder variant only has a payload of 887 kg due to the additional accessories.
Cab-chassis models will have bigger payloads listed on their websites, sometimes companies use this wording so it looks like the vehicle has a payload over 1 tonne. However, they don’t have a tray yet, which can weigh between 120 – 500kg depending on how it is built and what size it is.
There is also a braked towing capability of 3500kg on all 4×4 models.
GVM Upgrade Options
You can obtain what’s known as a second stage manufacturing GVM upgrade through Pedders for the Mazda BT-50 up to 3450kg. That’s an additional 350kg.
This will give you offroad suspension upgrades and brake upgrades to help you carry a heavier load and handle tougher terrain.
Remember that an upgrade to the GVM does not automatically upgrade the GCM. This means that the more you have, the less you are able to tow.
The BT-50 Safety
Taking Safety in as their number one priority Mazda has achieved a 5-star ANCAP rating for all models except the Thunder edition. Including 20 intuitive automated safety systems to keep you safe both on and off-road.
With features such as blind-spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alerts it’s no wonder the Mazda BT-50 received a 5-star rating.
All of the standard safety features will ensure you arrive at your destination safely and sound and instil confidence in between point A with wherever you decide. Electronic stability control and hill descent control will keep all four wheels exactly where you want them in contact with the trail or the road.
Pedestrian and cyclist detection will keep you and other road-goers safe while the intuitive autonomous emergency braking is pleasant and not a harsh reaction.
SUV style options in the form of front and side curtain airbag systems will deploy in the event of an accident keeping you and your passengers safer all around. Rest assured the backup camera option and parking sensors will kick in automatically while you navigate the mall or local grocery.
- Lane keep assist
- Reversing camera
- Lane departure warning
- Adapting cruise control
- Parking sensors
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Rear cross-traffic alerts
- Pedestrian and cyclist alerts
Mazda BT-50 Model Lineup
Mazda has made it quite easy to build your ute online whether it be your next workhorse or your adventure machine. All pricing below is approximate and does not factor in accessories or model-specific options:
Note: Pricing is subject to change, please do your own research with your local dealership.
XT Cab Chassis Ute (Price approx $42,928 + on-road additional costs)
- 0-inch touchscreen
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights
- Cloth upholstery
- Carpeted floors
- Power windows
- Cruise control (manual models) or adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go (automatic models)
- Reversing camera
XTR Ute (Price approx $46,357 + on-road additional costs)
- 0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay, DAB+ digital radio and satellite navigation
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights with auto levelling
- LED front fog lights and daytime running lights
- Side steps
- Dual-zone climate control
- Rear air vents
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter
- Auto-dimming interior mirror
- Rear seat centre armrest
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- Keyless entry
- No Cab-chassis option
THUNDER Ute (Price approx $69,990 + additional on-road costs)
- Steel bullbar with Lightforce led light bar
- Black side steps and fender flares
- Class-leading interior
- 18″ alloy wheels
- Electric roll cover
- Brown leather upholstery
- Eight-way power driver’s seat
- Heated seats
- Remote engine start (automatic only)
- Front parking sensors
- Heated chrome exterior mirrors
- No Cab-chassis option
Is the Mazda BT-50 Good?
The dual-cab chassis Mazda BT-50 makes for a great family car with a solid offroad drivetrain built by Isuzu. The interior is well equipped, but by no means is it cutting edge. It’s comfortable, has upgraded technology and all the mod cons compared to previous models.
The top-spec Thunder Model is quite a similar price to the competing Hilux, but still cheaper than the more premium Ford Ranger Raptor.
The ultimate question: Is the 2021 Mazda BT-50 worth the price?
Becoming more and more common after the long-awaited release of the 2021 Mazda BT-50 onto the Australian market, the Kodo designed, Isuzu D-Max sibling is more than able to handle whatever you throw at it.
Undoubtedly a top tier vehicle in the mid-sized ute segment in Australia, competing with the likes of the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux is no small feat and the redesign has definitely solidified Mazda’s position on the top 5 utes among Trayon Camper customers.
With the constant updates coming from the Ford camp, and a new model of the Ford Ranger expected in early 2022, it’s hard to stay relevant, but Mazda refuses to take a back seat to the action.
We believe this latest rendition of the Mazda is definitely a huge leap forward for the segment both in technology and looks. And personally, I prefer the looks of the Mazda over its sibling, but that’s a personal preference.