2021 Mazda BT-50 XT 4x4 Single Cab Review
Price & Specs8.5
Interior & Practicality8
Performance & Economy8.5
Ride & Handling8
Running Costs & Warranty7.5
What we like:
  • Fantastic safety equipment
  • Clever 4x4 system
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
What we didn't like:
  • Sub-par screen quality
  • Ride could use improvement
  • Warranty not as good as the D-Max
8.1DiscoverAuto Rating

The BT-50 has been Mazda’s ute offering ever since 2006 when it replaced the Bravo. Since then, the BT-50 has gone through three generations and this new third-generation model promises to be the best selling yet. Co-developed with Isuzu, the new BT-50 is mechanically identical to the Isuzu D-Max: they share the same chassis, engine and gearbox choices. While the BT-50 has never sold as well as the likes of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, Mazda aims to change this with this all-new model. We tested the entry level 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT 4×4 single cab to find out if it can stand on its own in the crowded ute market.

The ute market has recently in the last decade seen an explosion of new models which has made the market busier than ever. With the exception of Kia and Hyundai, most mainstream manufacturers have a ute offering. So has Mazda come far enough to emerge at the top of the ute market or are there better offerings? Let’s find out.

Price & Specs: 8.5/10

The 2021 Mazda BT-50 range kicks off with the XT 4×2 single cab that comes in at $36,550 plus on-road costs. The model we tested here is the same XT model but with the 4×4 system ,which is priced at $41,550 plus on-road costs – our test car included the automatic gearbox which brought the price up to $44,050. It is also worth noting that the cheapest 4×4 Isuzu D-Max available is $41,200, which is $350 cheaper than the BT-50.

The entry-level 2021 Mazda BT-50 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, a two-speaker sound system, air conditioning, power windows, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers and a full size spare wheel as standard.

2021 Mazda BT-50 XT

Thanks to Isuzu, the standard safety kit is where the BT-50 shines as it gets quite a lot even for the entry-level model. The XT comes with six airbags, high and low speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, a reversing camera, an alarm, trailer sway control, auto high beam, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision alert, driver attention detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go (autos only – the manual has regular cruise control) and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert all as standard. For a base model ‘tradie-spec’ ute, this is very impressive – much like the base model D-Max.

The 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT is very generously equipped and we wouldn’t add anything to it in base form. It is easily better equipped than entry level Ford Rangers and Toyota HiLuxes.

All of the colours offered on the BT-50 are standard and come at no additional cost. There are ‘True Black’, ‘Gunblue’, ‘Concrete Grey’, ‘Rock Grey’, ‘Red Volcano’, ‘Ignot Silver’ and our test car’s ‘Ice White’. There is also a range of genuine accessories available with the BT-50 range.

Performance & Economy: 8.5/10

The only engine available in the Mazda BT-50 is an Isuzu-sourced 3.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder which produces 140kW of power and a healthy 450Nm of torque. This is put through either a six-speed manual transmission or our test car’s six-speed torque converter auto. There is also the choice of either a 4×2 model or a 4×4, our test car is fitted with the latter.

The engine is a drastic improvement on the previous model’s diesel engine. It is much more quiet and refined meaning you won’t go deaf when having to accelerate up an on ramp. The acceleration is also more linear when taking off from a standstill. The transmission shifts through the gears very smoothly and without any fuss – as you may have guessed, it is also the same unit found in automatic D-Maxes.

2021 Mazda BT-50 XT

The engine really suits the BT-50 well – it offers peak torque at a very low 1,600-2,000rpm, but unlike most diesel engines, this one doesn’t lose its puff higher up in the rev range. It powers on through and makes a good amount of power propelling the BT-50 down the road.

The 4×4 system is also quite advanced on the Mazda BT-50 – it comes with a dual-range transfer case and electronic differential locks meaning it can get you out of sticky situations with ease toughing even the most difficult work sites to navigate. There is also a skid plate to protect the underside of the BT-50.

The braked towing capacity of the 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT is 3,500kg, which is on par with what is offered by competitors. The only other models that can tow more than the BT-50 are the Chevrolet Silverado and RAM 1500 with a braked towing capacity of 4,500kg – although both of these cars are significantly more expensive than the HiLux (the Silverado starts at $114,900 and RAM 1500 starts $79,950).

8.0L/100km is the claimed average fuel consumption for the 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT 4×4. Combine that with the 76-litre fuel tank and that means an average range of around 1,000km. The Toyota HiLux 4×4 diesel has an average fuel consumption of 7.4L/100km so slightly less. Our time spent with the BT-50 saw an average fuel consumption figure with various driving on urban and highway roads of 8.5L/100km, which is close to the claimed figure.

Ride & Handling: 8/10

The ride on the 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT is what we would describe as adequate. As with many other utes, the ride at the rear is quite firm when there is nothing in the tray but the front isn’t too bad due to the independent front suspension. It is definitely not what we would call uncomfortable, but could definitely use some fine tuning to make it a little more comfortable on a day to day basis.

2021 Mazda BT-50 XT

Handling has been drastically improved over the previous model and while it isn’t a sports car, it can still hold its own when cornering. There is much less of the wallowy feeling there usually is in utes with a high centre of gravity like the BT-50. The steering can be on the heavier side but that is to be expected on a 4×4 ute – it isn’t heavy to the point that it is painful to operate but it is heavier than a regular passenger car.

The active safety systems work remarkably well on the 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT, the lane keep assist isn’t too intrusive and the forward collision alert doesn’t recognise unnecessary things. The radar cruise control also does a fantastic job of maintaining the distance between you and the car in front of you.

Interior & Practicality: 8/10

The 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT’s interior is very un-ute like. Yes there is still the little giveaways such as the manual climate control and upright dash but the screen and driving position isn’t too ute like. There are also a lot of controls on the steering wheel for the safety systems and audio controls.

Compared to other utes on the market such as the HiLux and Triton the BT-50’s interior feels more modern and user friendly. Everything is where you would expect it and all of the buttons are easy to use. The materials are also of a good quality, there is a faux stitched dash, the cloth used on the seats feels durable but comfortable and even the plastics feel like they will stand the test of time.

The interior storage in the single cab BT-50 isn’t as good as it could be. There is no clever storage solutions behind the seats and while there is a dual glovebox and decent door bins, there could be more storage and practicality in the cabin.

Centre of the BT-50’s cabin is a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen, which is all-new for the 2020 model year. It features digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. The screen quality isn’t as good as some other competitors such as the Ford Ranger and the infotainment system itself isn’t as intuitive as others in the Mazda range. But, on the other hand, it and the Isuzu D-Max are the only two utes on the market with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so far and it is also pretty quick to sync and use.

The standard tray option with the dual cab 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT is an alloy unit which has a payload of 1,171kg. Mazda do not quote figures for the alloy tray, but it is quite long and offers a good amount of practicality as the sides fold down making it easier to load items.

Service & Warranty: 7.5/10

The 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT comes with the brand’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty but unfortunately, the mechanically identical Isuzu D-Max does come with a superior six-year/150,000km warranty. The Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux come with the same five year/unlimited kilometre warranty as the BT-50. The Mazda also comes with five-years of roadside assist whereas the Toyota HiLux does not come with roadside assist at all. Although, it is also worth noting that the Isuzu D-Max comes with seven-years of roadside assistance as standard.

The BT-50 requires servicing every 12-months or 15,000km, which is the standard average intervals that most utes offer – except for the Toyota HiLux which has six-month/10,000km intervals. The price of servicing the 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT over the span of three years or 45,000km is $1,493 and over the same period of time, the Isuzu D-Max will set owners back $1,407.

2021 Mazda BT-50 XT 4×4 DiscoverAuto Review: 8.1/10

The 2021 Mazda BT-50 XT 4×4 is a versatile ute that can handle anything thrown at it, whether that is driving around the work site or ploughing down an off road trail. The cabin is more sophisticated and there is an impressive suite of safety tech over the previous model, meaning there is a wider appeal for Mazda’s ute.

While the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger are the best sellers in the market, we think this new Mazda BT-50 offers better value, more safety tech and better driving dynamics than both of these models. But the question remains would we buy a Mazda BT-50 over an Isuzu D-Max? While they are identical mechanically, we prefer the styling of the BT-50 over the D-Max, but we can’t look past that extra year of warranty and extra two years of roadside assist of the D-Max. But both models are genuinely excellent utes that need much more attention on the market.

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