The Mazda BT-50 shares much of its DNA with the big-selling Ford Ranger including the gutsy 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel turbo engine.
The XTR dual cab sits between the XT and range-topping GT and has a well-equipped interior making it comfortable for both private and workhorse duties.
Highly capable off road, the BT-50 XTR Dual Cab Pickup with six-speed automatic that we tested retails for $51,700 though at the time this review was published it was offered for $49,990 drive-away.
- The BT-50 is highly practical and with the auto transmission has 3500kg maximum towing capacity, 1082kg payload and a 1549mm x 1560mm cargo floor area.
- Handling is surprisingly agile, with reasonably direct and well weighted hydraulic steering, and while you feel every bump through the leaf-spring suspension – especially with an empty tray – it’s not uncomfortable.
- The 3.2-litre five-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel gives it plenty of grunt – the 6-speed automatic version takes off surprisingly well from a standing start despite a little turbo lag.
- It’s a highly capable off-road performer, helped by the 232mm empty ground clearance, 800mm wading depth and 28.2 degree approach angle. Off-road handling is assisted by the chunky stock tyres on 17-inch rims, low range 4WD and hill descent control.
- It’s highly underrated. In our dual cab ute comparison held last year, the BT-50 XTR scored equal second with Ford Ranger XLT and was best off road.
- It comes with trailer sway control to help steady things should the trailer or caravan you’re towing become unstable.
- The interior finish manages to combine work-ute ruggedness and SUV refinement. It has hard wearing floor carpet, and dual-zone air-conditioning and durable cloth seats that feel comfortable and offer good back support.
- The rear seats are comfortable and roomy with plenty of room for two adults or three children. A 12v socket is available to rear seat passengers to charge their mobile devices.
- Equipment levels won’t leave you wanting for much and include cruise control, rain sensing windscreen wipers, dusk sensing headlamps, fog lamps, chrome rear and side steps, 17-inch alloy wheels, 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, digital radio and reversing camera. (Pictured bulbar is a factory option)
- While it feels like a very big vehicle it’s 1850mm width is actually 40mm less than a Holden Commodore so parking isn’t a problem – though it might poke out a bit length wise especially with a tow bar.
- While it shares much with the Ranger, the BT-50 didn’t adopt Ford’s subsequent refinements to aesthetics, road handling and performance.
- Infotainment system looks a little dated and using the touchscreen can be difficult on bumpier roads in a vehicle like this. The MZD Connect infotainment system with rotary control knob found in Mazda passenger cars and SUVs would be a great addition.
- The Blutooth syncing is slow even with phones that have already been paired.
ARE THERE ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER