By on May 11, 2017

mazda cx-5

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]

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23 Comments on “Mazda Makes a Bet on Popularity of Upcoming CX-5 Diesel...”

  • avatar

    You mean they’re actually going to release a diesel and not tease it for three years like the Mazda6 diesel?

  • avatar

    ““Starting from high and expanding, I think, is the right way,” he said. If the diesel proves popular….”

    Stop it right there. Selling top loaded expensive model, they will never have it prove popular. Should of started with “Ace of base”

  • avatar

    What percentage of their CX-5 sales are of their Touring trim? I don’t think they’re trying to find out if people want them, but how badly they want them. I was going to wait for it but I’m kind of glad I didn’t.

    • 0 avatar

      As quaquaqua mentions above, a significant portion of their sales are on Touring and Grand Touring models.

    • 0 avatar

      55% sales are Grand Touring. Compared to Rav4 / CRV where about 30% are top trim sales.
      Also CX-5 owners are about average 13 years younger than Rav4 CRV owners.
      Also they tend to be in the $93,000 earning range.

      Diesel might come in a signature trim like the CX-9 – we at a mazda forum calculated a $2800 (US Dollars) premium for Diesel based on Euro / Australian prices.

  • avatar

    Good for them and hope it works out. As a Mazda lover I want this to work for them so that they can place it in the 6 and a larger more powerful version in the CX9.

  • avatar

    Moro makes it sound so simple but everyone remembers the last Mazda diesel ‘tease’ and things were much easier then. I’m a small diesel fan (had a 2015 RAM EcoDiesel) but I’m sure the EPA et al are not going to make it easy…and if gas stays at $2.30/gal (at least here in Western NY), it’s a tough sell on a vehicle that already gets 30 mpg+ on the highway…I’ll skip the diesel and spend the extra cash on the Grand Touring trim…

    • 0 avatar

      “and if gas stays at $2.30/gal (at least here in Western NY), it’s a tough sell on a vehicle that already gets 30 mpg+ on the highway”

      Former TDI owner here, and you’re not wrong about fuel prices being a major factor. One wonders what the fuel economy ratings of the CX-5 Diesel are going to end up being. The 2017 gasoline models are rated at 23/31/27 combined (2WD) and 23/29/26 (AWD). I’d guesstimate around 42mpg combined with their diesel models, which would represent a 61% increase in fuel economy in the AWD model. Plus, all that torque makes AWD a no-brainer.

      The real question is how much added cost there is because it’s diesel, not just acquisition costs but the ongoing cost of DEF (cheap), and if they can manage to avoid some of the other pain points that plagued TDIs (exploding HPFPs, DPF clogging, etc) that wound up being very costly fixes.

  • avatar

    As a diesel owner and lover myself, I remain a little confused by this move. The CX9’s turbocharged 2.5 already has a lot of diesel characteristics, without the costs of a complicated SCR system. A diesel option made sense when they thought they could do it without the SCR, but now I’m wondering why they don’t just use the 2.5T as the upgrade option. I have to believe that the 2.5T would not only be less expensive, it would have a take rate well above 10%. Plus, after-treatment systems are notoriously problematic. Sure the diesel will be more efficient, but is it worth it?

    • 0 avatar

      and put the 2.5t into all the cars as well.
      it would make the 6 a whole lot more to me.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that many of us agree that the 2.5T from the CX-9 is probably the preferred method of getting higher performance and more torque in Mazdas. Heck, even their engineers have pointed out that they designed it to be able to fit into all but their smallest models (3 and CX-3). Many of us were expecting to see it in the 6 and CX-5 by now, but apparently that’s going to be the next generation SkyActiv engine for them. I’d assume that they designed the 2.5T package to fit into existing models to hedge their bets, in case the next gen engines ran into problems.

      That being said, the biggest difference between the 2.5T and 2.2 Diesel is going to be fuel economy. You’re looking at 20/26/23 combined for the CX-9 AWD. The CX-5 is smaller and lighter, so it would probably come out a little bit ahead of that, but if the diesel is able to hit 42mpg (something my former TDI did without breaking a sweat) then that’s probably a 60-65% improvement.

      Are they doing this to woo diesel enthusiasts, or to provide more torque for AWD top-trim buyers? Or are they doing it to push CAFE ratings up?

  • avatar

    It is completely an efficiency play. The CX-9 2.5T AWD Grand Touring is rated at only 26 mpg highway in the CX-9, so figure about 28 mpg in the lighter CX-5. The diesel is expected to do better than 36 mpg highway, so that alone is a significant impact. If the diesel CX-5 hits that goal while remaining fun to drive, I’d take the diesel over the 2.5T any day, especially when 80%+ of my driving is highway miles.

  • avatar

    It sounds like a dumb play to me, but maybe they feel they need to do it for the CAFE mileage credits and the few buyers make it worthwhile.

    The VW scandal has nothing to do with it for me, I just think diesel for anything but towing is simply an expensive headache. Whatever slight gains in fuel savings are more than offset with all the powertrain complexities.

  • avatar

    This might work out given the hole left behind by VW. There isn’t much competition for a small diesel CUV. Does anyone else make one? Isn’t there a diesel jeep something to replace the old Liberty CRD?

  • avatar

    If they are going to only offer this on the top trim, its going to be DOA. GM did the same thing with the last gen Cruze diesel and look how well those sold.

    • 0 avatar

      I wont say its DOA – diesel has it advantage, I am in Dallas – not an ideal customer for Diesel. If I were in mountains of OH / CO etc. then a diesel is going to save me even more.

      I took a back road to Western Fort Worth and was being trailed by a diesel truck on a road going up and down. His truck just drove through those climbs as though it was a flat road. 310 lb ft torque baby.

      Also its rated to tow 4000+ lbs in EU – hope it gets 3000 lbs in US. That gives it an advantage for someone wanting to tow but not spend a lot of $$ on an EDGE or Murano etc.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

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

  • avatar

    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.

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