We Still Don't Know When the Mazda CX-5 Diesel Will Arrive in America

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

The potential for success is limited, but Mazda nevertheless announced in Los Angeles in November 2016 that the revamped 2017 Mazda CX-5 would be available with a 2.2-liter diesel torque monster.

Diesel? 2017? The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal that broke in late 2015 ended diesel’s run at Volkswagen of America and eventually ended with the withdrawal of diesel engines in Mercedes-Benz USA’s lineup, as well.

Yet diesel persists. General Motors, for example, is selling diesel variants of the Chevrolet Cruze and Equinox and the Equinox’s GMC Terrain sibling. And with Mazda’s decision to sell a 310-lb-ft diesel CX-5, compact crossover shoppers would have three choices.

Mazda said last year that “it will offer the Skyactiv-D 2.2 clean diesel engine in the all-new Mazda CX-5 for North America from the second half of 2017.”

Only half of the second half remains, and MazdaUSA.com still lists the 2017 CX-5 Diesel as a future vehicle. So where’s the 2017 Mazda CX-5 Diesel we were promised?

It’s not at Mazda dealers, that’s for sure. And it’s not on the way to Mazda dealers, certainly not at this moment.

Car And Driver asked a similar question after spotting a diesel-badged CX-5 roaming Michigan roads, apparently undergoing testing by Bosch. We decided to ask Mazda about the CX-5’s diesel timing, as well, curious if Mazda still planned to live up to its promise to sell a CX-5 in 2017, paticularly as Mazda’s consumer website continues to call the CX-5 diesel a 2017 model.

“We are working with the EPA and CARB and will have more information in the future,” a Mazda spokesperson told TTAC yesterday.

Seeking clarification, we asked if it’s safe to say the CX-5 is, for sure and for certain, still destined for U.S. sale.

The response was the same. Timing is a total unknown.

Seeking further clarification, we reached out to Mazda Canada. The response is similar: “We continue to work with EPA and CARB on final certification, and will have further information about on-sale dates as soon as certification is complete,” Mazda Canada’s spokesperson says. But in this case, there is an apparently greater level of certainty. “Mazda remains committed to bringing a Skyactiv-D diesel engine to the North American market in the Mazda CX-5.”

Beyond our journalistic skepticism, Mazda’s history leads us to doubt. Upon revealing the current Mazda 6 in Los Angeles in November 2012, Mazda said the new midsize sedan would be sold from January 2013 with a gas-powered 2.5-liter four-cylinder. “The Skyactiv-D-equipped version will follow suit in the second half of the year [2013],” Mazda said at the time, “making Mazda the first Asian manufacturer to offer a modern-technology clean-diesel engine in a non-commercial vehicle.”

The Mazda 6 diesel, promised four years ago, never materialized. By the second-half of 2014, TTAC was covering the diesel’s absence, a delay caused by an apparent need for more after-treatment.

Fast forward to 2017 and we’re still waiting on Mazda’s Equinox competitor with no anticipated on-sale date. Diesel-powered versions of the Equinox, meanwhile, are beginning to trickle into dealers — Cars.com lists nearly 300 in its inventory.

Mazda had anticipated that 10 percent of CX-5 buyers would choose the 2.2-liter diesel. It appears increasingly unlikely that Mazda needs a diesel engine in order to boost CX-5 demand. At a brand where non-CX-5 sales are down 9 percent, the CX-5 is up 10 percent, tracking toward a fifth consecutive year of growth thanks to year-over-year growth in seven of the last eight months. Easily the brand’s best seller, the CX-5 earns four out of every ten U.S. Mazda sales.

[Image: MazdaUSA.com]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

Timothy Cain
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  • HahnZahn HahnZahn on Sep 27, 2017

    I have 14 years of diesel ownership under my belt. They were fun and interesting for having an outlier as a fuel source, but they're just too hard to justify anymore. They're terrific machines when they function optimally, but also terrifically expensive to service and repair when components break. Americans very often make irrational vehicle choices, but the subset of people for whom a diesel variant makes sense over a gas one is really small.

  • Cem032 Cem032 on Sep 28, 2017

    Called around to a few dealers in the NJ area and one actually got back to me that they are currently expecting the CX-5 Diesel in February. Whether that will be pushed back, I do not know, but that seems to be the current timeline.

  • El scotto The days of "Be American, buy America" are long gone. Then there's the mental gymnastics of "is a Subaru made in Lafayette, IN more American than something from gm or Ford made in Mexico?" Lastly, it gets down to people's wallets; something cheap on Amazon or Temu will outsell its costlier American-made item. Price not Patriotism sells most items. One caveat: any US candidate should have all of his/her goods made in the USA.
  • FreedMike Well, here's my roster of car purchases since 1981: Three VWsTwo Mazdas (one being a Mercury Tracer, full disclosure)One AudiOne FordOne BuickOne HondaOne Volvo I think I hear Lee Greenwood in the background... In all seriousness, I'd have bought more American cars had they made more of the kinds of cars I like (smaller, performance-oriented).
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X I'll gladly support the least "woke" and the most Japanese auto company out there.
  • Jmo2 I just got an email from the dealership where I bought my car and it looks like everything has $5k on the hood.
  • Lou_BC I suspect that since the global pandemic, dealerships have preferred to stay with the "if you want it, we will order it" business model. They just need some demo models on hand and some shiny bits to catch the impulse buyer. Profits are higher and risks lower this way.
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