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Mazda BT-50 Boss 2019: off-road review

Utes dominate the sales charts and top-spec premium dual-cabs rank among the most popular with ute buyers.

The Mazda BT-50 Boss is one of the more recent in a long line of accessorised dual-cab utes. The problem is: these utes are often a triumph of style over substance, more flash than functionality.

Is that the case with the Boss? Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The five-seater Boss is the new top-shelf BT-50 variant, stepping into the range above the GT. It is available as a dual-cab only and 4WD only. 

As standard, the BT-50 Boss has a drive-away price of $55,990 (plus on-road costs). However, our test vehicle had optional floor mats ($137.85), so its price as tested is $56,127.85.

The five-seater Boss is the new top-shelf BT-50 variant The five-seater Boss is the new top-shelf BT-50 variant

The 3.2-litre engine and drive-train are carry-overs from the regular BT-50 – so what’s new are the few added extras on the inside and outside of the Boss. 

The Boss gets black accents everywhere – more about that below – as well as central locking for the tailgate and a tub liner. 

Boss buyers get one exterior colour: what Mazda calls “Snowflake White Pearl Mica”.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Boss has the BT-50 line-up’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine – 147kW at 3000rpm and 470Nm at 1750-2500rpm – mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This is a proven combo, solid if unspectacular.

The Boss has the BT-50 line-up’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine The Boss has the BT-50 line-up’s 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine

It has a dual-range part-time 4WD system and lockable rear diff. 

Is there anything interesting about its design?

On the outside, it looks like a BT-50 that Mazda has thrown a lot of black at: the Boss’s front grille, wheel guards, 17-inch, eight-spoke alloy wheels, wing-mirror caps, side steps, sports bar, soft tonneau cover and more are all black.

On the outside the Boss looks like a BT-50 that Mazda has thrown a lot of black at On the outside the Boss looks like a BT-50 that Mazda has thrown a lot of black at

It even has Boss stickers down the side of the cabin, which are a bit cheap-looking and I copped a few dodgy looks at traffic lights, as if those people thought I’d put the stickers on myself. The stickers aren’t my cup of tea, but they might be yours, so good luck to you.

The Boss stickers down the side of the cabin are a bit cheap-looking 
The Boss stickers down the side of the cabin are a bit cheap-looking

Beyond those minor cosmetic changes, it’s business as usual in the looks department. The front end that put people off years ago has long been designed away so it’s not anywhere near as annoying as it once was. Otherwise, the Boss shares same-same looks with its lower-level stable mates: it's blocky, solid, and ready for action. 

Inside there’s leather trim and gloss-black spots.

How practical is the space inside?

The Boss interior gets leather trim, gloss-black styling, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-speaker Alpine stereo. 

There are leather seats and some soft-touch areas in the cabin but, apart from that, there are expanses of tough durable plastics. 

The Boss interior gets leather trim along with expanses of tough durable plastics The Boss interior gets leather trim along with expanses of tough durable plastics

The dash and centre console are rather plain but it’s all nice and well laid out. 

The media screen is clear – it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – and controls for everything are easy to locate and operate – crucial when 4WDing at low or high speeds.

The media screen is easy to locate and operate

The media screen is easy to locate and operate

There are plenty of storage spots – door pockets, glove box, sunnies case, centre console, as well as USB ports and 12V sockets.

The interior is functional without being flash, which for a top-spec ute may be a let-down for some, but for me, it works. 

Driving position is nice and high but the steering wheel is tilt adjustable only, which is a bit annoying.

The back seats of the Boss are quite comfortable The back seats of the Boss are quite comfortable

The back seats of utes can be a pain but the Boss’s are quite comfortable; there was plenty of legroom behind my driving position and the sculpted roofline offers head room aplenty. The seats are upright, straight up and down, and tall people might complain about a lack of under-leg cushioning, but for everyone else – yes, even most adults – they’re more than adequate.

What's it like as a daily driver?

The BT-50 Boss is a comfortable daily driver.

Its engine is strong and has plenty of punch about it – with ample torque from low-down – and it’s never stressed. 

The auto-and-engine combination works well and the Boss generally slots into the sweet spot rather than hunting for it.

Steering has a real weight about it at the right times, visibility is good in all directions and throttle response is sharp with impressive acceleration off the mark. 

The Boss keeps on trucking no matter what The Boss keeps on trucking no matter what

It sits nicely on the track, solid and stable, and the suspension – front coils and a leaf-sprung rear – sorts everything out pretty well. Sure, on sharper, more severe corrugations and deeper potholes, ride gets a bit jittery but it’s never terrible. 

NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) intrusion is limited to some low-level engine growl and a bit of wind noise around the wing mirrors.

The Boss basically just keeps on trucking no matter what – even under pressure, the whole package feels smooth enough without being quite at the top of its class, in terms of refinement. 

What's it like for touring?

A ute should, by rights, spend a chunk of its time off-road – and because the Boss retains the BT-50’s off-road capabilities with plenty of low-down torque and reliable mechanicals – it’s all aimed at being no-frills functional in the rough stuff. 

Low-speed 4WDing is a cinch with that aforementioned torque on tap, as well as decent low-range gearing and engine braking, and good wheel travel – and if you need more ground-grabbing ability, there’s a rear diff lock. It’s easy enough to cycle through high- and low-range 4WD as needed, using the dial. 

The 2161kg Boss has 232mm of ground clearance, that’s an unladen measure, and it has a wading depth of 800mm, so deep mud-holes or wheel ruts never pose a serious challenge. 

It rides on Dunlop Grandtrek AT22s (265/65R17).

The Boss retains the BT-50’s off-road capabilities The Boss retains the BT-50’s off-road capabilities

For those of you who are interested, approach angle is 28.2°, ramp-over is 25.0°, and departure angle is 26.4°.

With considered driving and some tyres better suited to off-roading, the Boss will get you to your campsite – any campsite – and back without too much fuss.

The tray is covered by a soft tonneau cover and measures 1560 millimetres across and 1549 mills long. Problem is: the tray is 1139 mills between wheel arches – so it’s “Access Denied” for an Aussie pallet. 

The tray is covered by a soft tonneau cover The tray is covered by a soft tonneau cover

The easy-open tailgate is, yep, easy to open, but it’s quite heavy to close – no need to go to Crossfit anymore. 

The BT-50 has a 750kg unbraked towing capacity and 3500g braked towing capacity. Payload is listed as 1039kg. 

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is listed as 10.0L/100km (combined). Fuel consumption on test was 11.6L/100km.

The Boss has an 80-litre fuel tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Boss has a five-star ANCAP rating but it lags behind its rivals in terms of up-to-date driver-assist tech. Its safety gear includes six airbags, reversing camera, trailer sway control, emergency brake assist, and hill descent control, but its safety suite looks a bit light-on when compared to other dual-cabs which have AEB, rear cross traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and more. 

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

A five-year/unlimited km warranty applies to this ute. Its capped price plan covers runs to five years/75,000km. Service intervals are recommended at 12 months/15,000km. Average cost per service over five years is $459.40; total service cost over five years is $2,556.

That 3.9 might seem like a high score for a ute that, at times in this review, I’ve not been very complimentary of, but most of that score is for the BT-50 itself, not the Boss aspect of it; the Boss thing does nothing for the BT-50. 

Like most decisions in life, whether you opt for a Boss boils down to wants and needs. You might want a Boss but you certainly don’t need one – I don’t think so, anyway. The BT-50 is a solid, dependable ute with a top-notch engine and driveline without any of the Boss frippery. It’s a very capable unit for working and towing, and the Boss trim simply makes it look a little bit different to other BT-50s – whether that’s a good ‘different’ is up to you.

The BT-50 handles everything nicely and, while it never feels quite as refined as something like the Ford Ranger or VW Amarok, it’s still right up there with the best utes in the market. 

$63,250

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.9/5

Adventure score

3.9/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$63,250

Based on new car retail price