Mazda Makes a Bet on Popularity of Upcoming CX-5 Diesel

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Diesel power has traditionally proved a tough sell in the United States, at least among light-vehicle buyers. If it doesn’t belong on a worksite, chances are a vehicle’s engine choices have remained gasoline-only since the model’s debut.

While the high-mileage technology suffered a black, sooty eye from the Volkswagen affair, several automakers are gambling on Americans want of higher torque figures and improved fuel economy — the rosy promises of diesel motivation. Mazda, the only automaker without a hybrid or electric vehicle in its stable, plans to add a diesel CX-5 to its gas-only U.S. fleet later this year.

The automaker knows exactly how many it wants Americans to buy. If this litmus test on wheels reaches the pre-determined mark, expect to see more zoom-zoom diesels appearing in local showrooms.

Speaking in Chicago yesterday, Mazda North American Operations President and CEO Masahiro Moro said the diesel bar is set at 10 percent of all U.S. CX-5 sales. Going by 2016 sales figures, that means just over 11,000 units.

While not yet approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency, the automaker expects to receive the green light “in the coming months,” Automotive News reports. The 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D engine is already offered in overseas models. We haven’t heard exact figures for the North American unit but, based on foreign specifications, it could boast 173 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Mazda will initially only offer the diesel CX-5 in high-spec Grand Touring trim when its appears this fall, but Moro claimed that could change over time.

“Starting from high and expanding, I think, is the right way,” he said. If the diesel proves popular in the brand’s best-selling vehicle, Mazda will take it as a hint to offer the engine in other models.

“CX-5 will be a very good indicator for us to understand where we have the opportunity and what kind of people come to buy those new technologies,” said Moro.

While General Motors is following a similar path with the introduction of a diesel Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain for 2018, those models will see the engine become available on a range of trim levels. Already, GM has added diesel power to its midsize Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. In those models, the technology boats a 9-percent take rate.

[Image: Mazda]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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3 of 23 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on May 11, 2017

    For torque and fuel economy, make it electric - and beat Tesla's mythical Model Y to market by a couple years.

    • RobertRyan RobertRyan on May 11, 2017

      @SCE to AUX Mazda is steering clear of Electric, Diesel should be interesting

  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on May 11, 2017

    Mazda management does not seem to care about what the their buyers want much. The management thinks their answer to the federal government mileage mandate is the diesel power engine to boost the company's mpg rating game. Mazda management is focus on boosting it mpg! It seems like that their current near term goal! Sales does not seem to be the prime directive.

  • Bd2 Probably too late to do anything about it for the launch, but Kia should plan on doing an extensive refresh of the front fascia (the earlier, the better) as the design looks really ungainly.
  • Namesakeone Since I include SUVs and minivans as trucks, I really cannot think of a brand that is truly truckless. MG maybe?
  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.