Behind the murky shadows with only a faint reflection to show its true silhouette, there is a new Mazda BT-50 pickup waiting.
Younger (American) folks among the TFLtruck community may not remember the time, but Mazda did use to produce pickups for sale in the United States. The B Series, as most knew the Japanese automaker’s small pickup, actually started way back in 1961, and actually morphed into the Ford Courier in the 1970s — and sold alongside both that Ford pickup and the subsequent Ranger all the way until 2010.
When the Ranger last disappeared from the American market in 2011, so too did the Mazda B Series we came to know here. However, Ford’s decades-long tie-up with Mazda actually spawned a global pickup in the BT-50, which in its first two generations was based on the overseas Ford Ranger. Even after Ford and Mazda parted ways in 2009, the BT-50 soldiered on through the 2020 model year, with relatively few changes along the way.
Now the Mazda BT-50 will be based on a different American truck…sort of
In this next generation, the 2021 Mazda BT-50 will ride not on the same platform as the Ford Ranger, but the Isuzu D-Max. If you weren’t even aware this truck exists, don’t worry — you and I know its platform as that of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon here in the United States. That’s not to say the upcoming BT-50 will be identical, but reports indicate it will share its platform with the current-generation D-Max.
Apart from adopting (at least in part) Mazda’s “Kodo” design language, the new BT-50 should also get a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel to go with its new underpinnings. Before, the BT-50 was exclusively available with two diesel engines, both based on older Ford designs. If the 2021 Mazda BT-50 shares its engine with the D-Max, then it will produce 188 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. That will mate up to a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, and the truck should come in single, extended and double cab configurations.
Sorry, it’s (probably) not coming to the U.S.
If you’re holding your breath for the 2021 Mazda BT-50 to make it stateside, I’d stop now. While it has made headway in other markets like Australia and southeast Asia, there’s virtually no chance this truck will make it to the U.S. Like the Nissan Navara, this “ute” is meant for global markets, and the current fierce competition among midsize trucks leaves little incentive for Mazda to try and shoehorn a pickup into their current range.
Nothing’s impossible, but it’s likely the truck will remain forbidden fruit unless you live in a country where the BT-50’s already sold. Even so, we hope to learn much more about the next-generation model next week.