The Mazda and Isuzu utes are built on the same production line, share common underpinnings and engines, and have identical capability. So what’s the difference?
- shares

The 2021 Mazda BT-50 ute is weeks away from showrooms, but information published on Mazda’s website has revealed subtle but important differences compared to the Isuzu D-Max on which it is based.

If you’re sweating the details and aren’t sure whether to buy the Mazda BT-50 or Isuzu D-Max ute, this level of detail could be helpful.

The new-generation Mazda BT-50 is the first ute to be jointly developed with Isuzu after Mazda’s 48-year partnership with Ford came to an end.

Both the Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max utes are built on the same production line in Thailand, share their underpinnings and engines, and have identical capabilities – but have unique body panels.

Prices for the Mazda BT-50 are yet to be announced but executives for the company have indicated they will be “competitive”.

What’s common? The 3.0-litre turbo diesel from the Isuzu D-Max is identical in the Mazda BT-50 (140kW/450Nm) and both vehicles are paired to the same six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, have the same rear differential locks on off-road models, and the same ground clearances and 800mm wading depth.

Both have similar payloads, and the same maximum towing capability of 3500kg.

Mazda has also loaded every model with all available advanced safety technology, as is the case with the Isuzu D-Max. Both utes have the same ability to avoid a crash – or protect you during a collision.

CarAdvice understands even the suspension is identical on both brands of ute, and Mazda did not undertake its own chassis development program.

As reported earlier, there will be three models in the Mazda BT-50 line-up – XT, XTR and GT – versus four model grades in the Isuzu D-Max line-up: SX, LS-M, LS-U and X-Terrain.

That’s because the Mazda BT-50 is primarily aimed at private buyers. While Isuzu has a large presence with private buyers, it is also popular with fleets, hence the SX tradie models.

All 2021 Mazda BT-50 utes come with LED headlights, whereas the base model Isuzu has halogen headlights and LED on the top three grades.

And Mazda does not have a vinyl floor option for the BT-50 at this stage, whereas the base two models in the Isuzu D-max range (SX and LS-M) have vinyl floor covering.

All Isuzu D-Max models have a full size steel spare wheel, whereas the top two grades of the Mazda BT-50 come with a matching alloy spare.

A sensor key with push button start is standard on the top two grades of the Mazda BT-50, but only on the top-of-the-range Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain. As with the Isuzu, this includes an auto-locking function when you walk away from the vehicle.

The top two grades of the Mazda BT-50 come with an auto-dimming rear-view mirror; this feature is not available on any Isuzu D-Max.

And the flagship Mazda BT-50 GT comes with brown leather heated seats (pictured below); the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain comes with black leather but heating is not available.

Another anomaly: the side mirrors of the top-grade Mazda BT-50 have a heating element to rid condensation on cool mornings. Heated side mirrors are not available on the Isuzu D-Max.

Both the Mazda and Isuzu utes have a lockable fuel cap on cab-chassis models; other models have a lockable fuel door that’s linked to the central locking.

One final difference: the Mazda BT-50 has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty versus six-year/150,000km coverage on the Isuzu D-Max.

Service costs are yet to be announced for the Mazda BT-50 but the intervals will likely be 12 months/15,000km, the same as the Isuzu D-Max.

As reported earlier, there will be a staggered roll-out of the Mazda BT-50 in Australia.

Double cab ute versions are due to arrive in Mazda showrooms in October, followed by the two-door “space cab” BT-50 models – which Mazda calls “Freestyle” – in December 2020 or January 2021.

The single-cab entry level versions of the new Mazda BT-50 are not due in Australian showrooms until February or March 2021, based on timing provided to dealers.

Mazda is expected to announce BT-50 pricing soon. Be sure to check back when we have all the details.