Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Mazda BT-50 2021 review: XTR 4x4 auto

The Mazda BT50 looks less like a truck, more like a car.

You want lots of space in a family car with extra room for when you go away? Enter the ute. This one is a Mazda BT50 and while I know I am not any kind of ute expert, I am here to review the BT50 from a family perspective. 

You won’t hear about how it tows and how good it is off road - there are other more detailed reviews on the CarsGuide website if that’s what you’re after. 

But if you want to know how the BT-50 works for a real life family, and a real life mum - that would be me - keep reading.

If you’re in the ute market, you’d also be looking at cars like the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Hilux. I’m in the middle of the range BT-50 XTR which is a 4x4 and costs $57,290, before on road costs and extras.

Here’s how it did for my family and I for this week’s family review. 

ShowHide all sections

✅ What does it look like?

I got the most comments from women this week: “How’s your truck going?”, “What are you driving?”, “How is it to drive?” 

So there was a tiny bit of interest but mostly it was, “what are you doing in a ute?” And that’s probably thanks to the fact my husband is not a tradie, and also that the car looks like a small truck. 

The Mazda BT-50 still doesn’t look as truck-like as other utes. The Mazda BT-50 still doesn’t look as truck-like as other utes.

But the Mazda BT-50 still doesn’t look as truck-like as other utes. There is the same Mazda grille as on all Mazdas and it basically looks like a blown-up, oversized Mazda. Which essentially, it is.

This is the middle of the range and there aren't as many fancy features as you’ll get with the top-of-the-range interior. To me, it looks a bit the way some vans are designed. With little fanfare, it’s not about style, it’s about what the car can do. 

So, there’s less focus on design and more about how high the seats are off the road, which feels fantastic when you’re in the car. You really do feel like you can drive anywhere and there’s something completely confidence building about that.

This is the middle of the range and there aren't as many fancy features as you’ll get with the top-of-the-range interior. This is the middle of the range and there aren't as many fancy features as you’ll get with the top-of-the-range interior.

There are fabric seats that feel fine and a leather steering wheel. The dash in front of the steering wheel looks a bit dated and the multimedia screen feels like that, too, but compared with some other utes this is quite classy. It’s not as flash as an SUV, though.  

If you’re looking for a bit more luxury you’ll have to go to the top grade GT model which is a few grand more and adds brown leather seats and front seat heating.

✅ What’s the tech like?

There’s a 9.0-inch multimedia screen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which is the kind of tech you’re after. 

Yes, even in your BT-50, you want to have the easiest way of listening to music and syncing your phone so you can navigate. It’s got wireless CarPlay connection, too, and it’s great to have that kind of technology in a ute. 

There’s a 9.0-inch multimedia screen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s a 9.0-inch multimedia screen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

✅ How easy is it to drive every day?

There are two cupholders in the front that are very deep and not exactly practical for those who don’t like a giant Starbucks. I have a tiny coffee and I couldn’t put it in there for fear of not being able to get it out while driving. There’s a large spot for keys and a phone and a big centre storage bin plus bottle holders in the doors. 

There are two cupholders in the front that are very deep and not exactly practical for those who don’t like a giant Starbucks. There are two cupholders in the front that are very deep and not exactly practical for those who don’t like a giant Starbucks.

The seats are easy to climb into even though it’s high off the ground thanks to the step and my small children loved getting up and into it. 

The tray at the back is easy to open and close, but the tray itself does not have a liner which a lot of the competition does. This test model did not come with a cover either, which meant that I couldn’t use the tray in the rain for groceries.

The seats are easy to climb into even though it’s high off the ground. The seats are easy to climb into even though it’s high off the ground.

And then we were going to the park and I couldn’t throw the girls rollerskates in the boot, they had to fit on the floor of the passenger seat. 

So, you definitely need a cover if this is going to work as a family car and Mazda offers a few different accessory options which will solve this problem.

✅ How spacious is it?

Space wise it is huge and that’s the advantage of having a ute. There’s so much space in the front I could fit two of me in the passenger seat and it’s great for taller people, too, with loads of leg and head room.

There’s so much space in the front I could fit two of me in the passenger seat. There’s so much space in the front I could fit two of me in the passenger seat.

The back is super-spacious with enough room for three actual adults in the rear seat and while you can fit three kids car seats in there, there are only two ISOFIX points and two top tether points, so you can only safely fit in two kids car seats. 

The back is super-spacious with enough room for three actual adults in the rear seat. The back is super-spacious with enough room for three actual adults in the rear seat.

That means if you’ve got three kids, one of them needs to be grown out of a child car seat for this BT-50 to work for you. 

Having a ute means you have this giant tray in the back instead of a boot and that is a good thing sometimes, and then other times it's not as convenient as having an enclosed boot. It does give you double the space of an SUV.

Having a ute means you have this giant tray in the back instead of a boot. Having a ute means you have this giant tray in the back instead of a boot.

I had to transport some boxes this week, so the space certainly came in handy. But then it rained for most of the week and the space became unusable because this test model doesn’t have a cover. If it had a cover I’m sure my experience would have been very different but the tray became unusable in the rain. 

If you do have a cover, you can easily get a pram in here, suitcases will fit so easily and sporting equipment will, too. Things might roll around though, so get used to tying things up. Using boxes for your groceries will help and you should be doing that now anyway. Ditch the bags.

✅ How does it drive?

Driving is easy enough in a ute, it’s just a lot higher off the ground, which is great. It feels a bit truck-like, which is no big deal if you’re trading off for tray space. 

The engine is loud because it’s a 3.0L, four-cylinder diesel engine, and while it’s not the most refined car to drive, it does get up hills well enough. 

It’s not super quick off the mark, nor is it agile, but it shines bright when on highways and in wide streets with lots of room to drive.

The engine is loud because it’s a 3.0L, four-cylinder diesel engine. The engine is loud because it’s a 3.0L, four-cylinder diesel engine.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 8.0L/100km and I did an average 9.6/100km

Parking is as you’d expect in a car this size. Not exactly easy. I found myself taking our other car if I was just popping to the shops when I know there’s limited parking space and narrow streets. 

The BT-50 does have a reverse parking camera but it's quite grainy on the screen. If you have wide streets and loads of room where you live it won't be an issue, but I found it tricky to park on the busy streets where my school drop off is. 

✅ How safe is it?

For safety there is auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, a lane departure warning system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control

As with most SUVs you’ll get airbags to cover driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags that go across both rows. plus it has a front centre airbag and the BT-50 gets a maximum five-star ANCAP rating under the strict 2020 criteria. 

It has two ISOFIX points and two top tether points, so you can only safely fit in two children’s car seats. That means your third child, if you have one, has to be older than seven to travel in the BT-50 safely. 


The Wrap

The Mazda BT-50 makes a good family car, it’s got great interior space, an enormous boot but do make sure you get a cover for it to be usable in all conditions. There’s good safety for a family and it drives well, plus you’ll be able to take it away for long driving holidays and carry everything you need with you, especially if you’ve got a dog. 

I gave it a family rating of 7.8 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same, they loved climbing into the tray in the back.
 

Likes

Interior space
Height on the road
Tray space

Dislikes

Hard to park, takes up space
Interior design could be improved
Tray needs a cover

Scores

Nedahl:

3.9

The Kids:

3.9

$49,470

Based on new car retail price