By on June 18, 2018

mazda cx-5

Where would Mazda be without the hot-selling CX-5? Of the 29,980 vehicles Mazda sold in the U.S. last month, 47.3 percent of them were CX-5s. Suffice it to say the stylish compact crossover is the brand’s most important model, regardless of what MX-5 fans would have you believe.

Parents everywhere applauded when a crisper, better-handling CX-5 appeared for 2017, content in knowing a family vehicle existed that wouldn’t relegate them to a world of bland conformity. Our own Chris Tonn was enraptured by the sight of his Grand Touring tester as it sat in an Ohio parking lot. Still, despite its on-road prowess, the zoom-zoom brand’s most popular offering isn’t exactly a pavement scorcher. That might not be the case for long.

According to a certification document from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Mazda might offer the 2019 CX-5 with the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder found in its larger CX-9 sibling. The doc shows emissions results from a 2.5-liter four boasting direct injection and forced induction, with its applications listed as the 2019 CX-5 and CX-9.

Image: CARB

Image: CARB

In the 2018 CX-9, this engine generates 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Currently, CX-5 buyers choose from a 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder making 156 hp and 150 lb-ft, or a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter with 187 hp and 186 lb-ft. A delayed diesel’s on the way. Should Mazda grace us with a hot rod variant of its compact ute, buyers can expect a two-thirds increase in twist compared to the existing top-line powerplant.

Maybe it’s too much to ask that it come with a stick shift.

Of course,  Mazda doesn’t make a habit of commenting on future products, and this case is no exception. We’re left to wait and see if our crossover dreams come true.

Sales of the CX-5 in America haven’t waned once during its time on the market. Each year since its 2012 debut saw more and more buyers line up at their local dealer, ready to fill Mazda’s coffers. This May saw the crossover’s sales rise 19.9 percent, year over year, with volume over the first five months of 2018 up a generous 43.7 percent.

H/T to Bozi Tatarevic!

[Images: Mazda, CARB]

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52 Comments on “Is the Mazda CX-5 About to Go Turbocharged?...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    I was disappointed with the numbers C/D got from the Mazda6 2.5T.

    Not to go all Norm here, but a Buick Regal 2.0T walked all over it in every performance metric. Not only in acceleration, but in braking and grip as well.

    caranddriver.com/reviews/2018-mazda-6-25t-test-review

    caranddriver.com/reviews/2018-buick-regal-sportback-fwd-test-review

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Not only did a Regal Sportback 2.0T walk all over a 6 2.5t, it also matches a Accord 2.0T while doubling it’s trunk size, a Honda Odyssey minivan is just as fast after the 6 2.5t gained 250 lbs.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        I’d hazard to say that the new 2.5 turbo Mazda 6 is still a much better car than the old, NA version. Better sound proofing and more power fixes the two biggest problems with the old car. I can’t see myself being too concerned if it’s .8 seconds slower to 60mph than a Buick that handles much worse.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        #BuickEncoreTrifectaTuneLifeYOLO

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        and you can get massive rebates w/ the dog Regal too!

        test drive a Regal at any rental car lot or buy a used one for pennies on the dollar

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        Without the lesabre or park avenue, im never buying a buick. I always dreamed i would be driving a car as nice and luxurious as my Grandmas’s 92 Roadmaster 5.7 or 83 lesabre with velour seats. These new Buicks are barely American. They are no more appealing than a 89 skyhawk or 93 skylark.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Not to let the Mazda off the hook, but the Regal is about as engaging as software EULA’s – overly light steering, reluctant transmission, and just not enough other than numbers to get excited about. It’s less of a sport sedan than the Lacrosse (an unapologetic big highway cruiser).

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        This wasn’t my experience at all after test driving a sportback. Sure, the Mazda seems more engaging, but I found the sportback better than the 2018 Accord EX-L 2.0T and not as overly harsh as the Accord sport 2.0T. The transmission was quick to change gears and didn’t hunt at all. Price wise I think its too much for what you get though. I like the mazda better, but I’m holding out for Android auto.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Interesting article on the 6 2.5T. I found it hilarious in the comments where the guy says “it runs out of steam in the middle of the power band”. WTF???

    • 0 avatar
      K K

      True thought it may be slightly quicker. regal is lighter and has 3 more gears.

      That said I’m really looking forward to the cx5 w/ a diesel and now the 2.5t – makes for an interesting vehicle

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      The mazda6 2.5t isn’t optimized for top end performance. Seems like they kept the exact same engine mapping from the cx-9 which was specifically designed for torque in the low rpms to move a heavy vehicle. It is no mazdaspeed6. Also, there is some literature out there about the tire choice on the new mazda6 turbo. Tires chosen specifically to tackle NVH, not enhance Dynamics. To be honest, I think the new 6 turbo is more what customers want rather than what enthusiasts desire. Probably a smart move. Tone it down to make it a better everyday driver rather than to top the instrument tests the auto buff books.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        It’s not like the 6’s competition is made up of compromised track day specials though.

        In a world where mainstream sedans are getting torched in sales I just don’t see “it’s slower on purpose” tempting those otherwise shopping a Camry V6 or Accord 2.0t.

        And, for the people that liked the old 6 but just wanted a power boost, it sounds like the entire package has been softened.

        I’m not saying they should have built a Mazda6 SRT Evolution, but trying harder to match the numbers put.up by the Camcords shouldn’t have hurt.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          Agree, it could have been executed differently/better. But it’s a mid cycle refresh, parts bin engine, turbo, tuning. Minimal development costs to compete with the big boys using a car that, let’s face it, isn’t selling and probably wouldn’t sell any better if these issues were better sorted. It gives them a horse in the race. I really question the wisdom of not offering the base NA 2.5 engine beyond the touring trim. I think most buyers would be happy to have the base engine powering the higher trim levels. It’s not really a slow vehicle with base engine, low 7’s 0-60 I think.

          It’s all allegedly part of the push upmarket. Softer, quieter, better appointed and it can’t be considered upmarket if it’s too far down on power. For brand building, it’s a good addition, but it is a stopgap measure I think it’s safe to say.

          • 0 avatar
            Daniel J

            I test drove a 2017 and 2018 and I don’t think it’s softer. It’s more refined in my opinion. Unlike the Accord sport 2.0t I test drove, it didn’t feel as harsh, yet it seemed to hold turns just as well. I do think tires would go a long way in both cases, though. The Accord needed more sidewall.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          Just for comparison sake, something I never really saw in the buff book write ups. Motor trend tested the base NA 2.5 Mazda6 at 15.7 seconds and 88.6 mph in the quarter mile. Motor trend tested to new 2.5t in the Mazda6 at 15 seconds and 93.4 mph in the quarter mile.

          Bottom line, this engine is not well tuned for this application. All the power is down low. Might as well be the base engine at higher rpms and over 60 mph.

          However, I bet most people will appreciate where the power is gained and it is probably a better move to win in everyday driving vs a spec sheet drag race. Maybe next time we can get it tuned for a sedan rather than a 3row CUV. Common Mazda.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Ajla, the 250 lbs weight increase for the 6 2.5t wasn’t going to help in any performance metric. Now it is the heaviest of any with 250+ hp.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      the Accord stomps on it

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      from C&D:

      “A more direct comparison is to the excellent 2018 Honda Accord with its optional 252-hp turbo 2.0-liter engine and 10-speed automatic. A polished 10Best Cars–winning sedan that weighs within a few pounds of the Regal, the Accord 2.0T is more enjoyable to drive and returns similar performance numbers, save for a 70-mph stop that was eight feet longer. The front-drive Honda and Buick share the same EPA fuel-economy figures—22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway—and both averaged 24 mpg in our testing. (All-wheel-drive Regals are rated 1 mpg less in the city and 3 less on the highway.) The Accord, however, bettered the Sportback’s 31 mpg on our 75-mph highway test loop by 4 mpg….”

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Regal Sportback 2.0T matches Accord 2.0T with 10-speed doubles it in trunk capacity. The Regal is also $22K on autotrader and offers 4 years, 50,000 mile warranty the Honda does not. No Accord will be as quiet as Regal as even C&D complained about Accord noise being near Civic levels.

  • avatar
    a5ehren

    I can’t imagine that even the CX-5 does enough volume to justify a 3-engine lineup. Wonder if they are going to drop the 2.0 or the 2.5?

  • avatar
    IBx1

    2.5T plus stick, please.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    This is gonna give me SkyBoostDreams.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    You can forget the 2.5T manual trans. They don’t have such a unit in-house stout enough for the the application. That fact, combined with the all the emissions compliance certification costs associated with adding the manual trans….and in light of it being a very niche-y product….a business case for a 2.5T manual just isn’t there….in any Mazda product.

  • avatar
    ddr777

    “Currently, CX-5 buyers choose from a 2.0-liter” ???
    Not in the US, CX-5 is 2.5 liter only.

  • avatar
    Eliyahu

    Mazda’a hope likely is to make it more like the Honda CR-V turbo models – more power and better MPG (at least EPA MPG).

    One reason to pick a CR-V instead of the CX-5 is the gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The fuel economy difference is most in the CVT vs torque converter 6-speed. The FWD Mazda6 2.5T couldn’t see solid 37 mpg like Malibu 2.0T did in MT testing, the CX-5 2.5t will not be close to 30’s all highway.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Before I bought my Forester 5 months ago, i looked at the CX5. Must haves i wanted on the new car included blind spot detection and auto braking.
    But, You cant get those options on lower level CX5. They also forced you to take leather seats. (hate leather. Hot in summer. Cold in winter.).
    Next #1 pick was the CRV. But, the dealer was a dink and tried to punk me. So, I got the Forester and could nt be happier.

    CRV shoppers. That car is real tight in the shoulders. Real tight. I was right up against the B pilar.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    The 2.5T is a truck engine. It’s going to make the car accelerate better, but it’s really not going to make it sporty.

    What they really need to do it sell it to Toyota to use in the Tacoma.

    • 0 avatar
      AK

      I was surprised and disappointed they didn’t alter the tuning for duty in the Mazda 6.

      Mazda made a big deal about how they tuned it when they came out with the CX9. They analyzed how people drove crossovers and made an engine suited for that (ie- never seeing redline, lots of low end torque). Then, when they dropped it in the 6, no change. That’s a mistake.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Well for all the dingbats out there who think this 2.5t engine is rubbish based on personal brainstorms alone, enlighten yourselves and go and drive a new Mazda6 turbo. I did.

    After that, then we can talk.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      All depends on what you are comparing it with. Sitting on the Mazda dealership lot the 6 2.5t looks impressive. Measured against the competition it performs as well as a polished turd.

  • avatar
    NutellaBC

    Now that the Forester turbo is gone and with the ultra competitive XC40 around, Mazda might have no choice. I am not sure how people can still live with non turbo cars at higher altitude like here in Flagstaff, AZ at 7000 feet or in Colorado. Makes the CX5 feels like it lost 50hp.

  • avatar
    phillymiata

    I own a 2017 cx9 AWD and that engine is no slouch. It has fantastic thrust when doing anything normal. Passing is simple. On ramps effortlessly. It has all the power right where you actually use it. The Mazda is even better.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      A Dodge Journey GT is one to two seconds faster than a CX-9 in MT figure-8 times. Or over 60 feet behind on a 27 second autocross course which is huge!

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        A freakin’ Dodge Journey? Are you serious?

        I’d rather lose some theoretical figure-8 contest and spend my time inside the CX-9 than spend 1 mile behind the wheel of a JOURNEY.

        • 0 avatar
          SixspeedSi

          You sure like to study specifications and test timing like it even matters. I’m sure a Buick Verano could hold a better slalom than the Corolla, but who cares.

          In the real world, the CX-9 drives way better than the numb Journey. Kinda like how no one comments of the handling of the Chinese Envision, “fancy” diff and all :D

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Would love to see this engine in a new MS3, but it seems Mazda has batten down the hatches to run a skeleton fleet.

    Still a little bummed nobody in the mainstream realm seems to be using hybrid tech to boost performance. Slap a 1kWh battery + 100kW motor in pretty much anything and you will have something interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I too have been interested in seeing a budget hybrid performance model.

      Honda hinted at the idea with the CRZ. Maybe Honda will evolve that idea into something worthy.

      The RAV-4 Hybrid uses an electric motor to drive the rear wheels. Surely Toyota could adapt that system to make something like a hot Matrix.

      A hybrid BRZ/86 makes too much sense, especially if you can develop an engine that would be shared with other Subaru and/or Toyota models.

  • avatar
    igve2shtz

    I said it a year ago. The 2.5T was not a good choice for the Mazda6 due to it’s torque rich nature and lack of top end. Performance sedan owners want to wind out gears, have linear power delivery, and this engine was never designed for that application. I applaud Mazda for making this engine available in the 6, but it was never intended to be a Speed6 equivalent (no matter what journalists/forum members/car people said). But it will prove beneficial for golf foursomes who have had a few too many burgers at the local club, not for owners looking for a cheaper M3.

    Having driven it, the 2.5T is superb in the CX-9 because it operates where 90% of all drivers will play… below 5000 RPM. The power delivery of the 2.5T is superior to the 3.5 V6’s of the competitor cars because it will help get the beast rolling when loaded down with the 6 passengers, or all the gear. The driver won’t need to wind out the motor to make sufficient power when burdened down.

    As far as the CX-5? Yee-HAW!! For the same reasons of the CX-9 above, this will be a great motor in a great little car. Although sporty, I never got the desire to drive the CX-5/9 like I do my Mazdaspeed6. The power is there for passing, and when loaded down, and under normal circumstances, the engine will fade into the background like it should.

    In typical TTAC fashion, I can’t wait to snag one of these up off lease in 2 years after a heck of a depreciation.

    • 0 avatar
      SixspeedSi

      I firmly believe Mazda is venturing away from the “Zoom Zoom” persona and going after a budget Japanese Luxury feel. Honestly, I can’t blame them. There are far more people that would rather have a luxurious feeling car over a “Sporty” mainstream car. In a world where sales and profit matter (looking at you, Ford), that decision makes sense. They’ll still drive well, but that’s not the sole focus any longer.

      Would tuning this motor makes more sense in this application? Yes..but so would offering a manual and that isn’t happening on all but the low end. I think customers will appreciate the extra torque, I know I will.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I think for most buyers the “winding up” preference is dead. They want torque from a stop sign. They don’t understand winding up and complain that the cars have too little power, just because they have to hit RPMs to enjoy them.

        My wife and I both love our 2.0t because it has MASSIVE power where you use it. We like it a lot more than our more powerful V6, because the V6 required winding up, and who has the opportunity to wind up a car in DD situations? not us.

        High torque at low RPMs is a winning combination for 99% of buyers IMHO.


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