Mazda CX-5 Diesel: Is This Fuel Economy Enough to Get Buyers In Line?

mazda cx 5 diesel is this fuel economy enough to get buyers in line

The diesel version of Mazda’s wildly popular CX-5 crossover was originally supposed to land on these shores in late 2017, but the plan hit a snag. As such, we’re still waiting. But the model’s appearance now seems imminent.

Having cleared the Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent testing regimen, we now know exactly what fuel economy to expect from the CX-5 and its compression ignition 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D inline-four. The question is: is the CX-5 diesel thrifty enough?

Fuel economy isn’t the diesel engine’s only attribute; indeed, many would-be buyers could be waiting to get their hands on a shapely crossover with up to 310 lb-ft of torque (there’s still no official U.S.-market power specs). That’s a far cry from the base 2.5-liter gas engine’s 186 lb-ft, and Mazda owners have things to tow, too.

But fuel economy remains a major factor in any diesel purchase, with the reduced cost of fuel compensating for the usual bump in sticker price. In front-drive guise, the EPA rates the CX-5 diesel at 28 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined. For the all-wheel drive model, just subtract 1 mpg from each of these figures.

In comparison, the standard front-drive gas model consumes fuel at the rate of 25 mpg city/31 mpg highway/28 mpg combined. Identical highway mileage, and only a 1 mpg gain in combined driving. The difference is a little more obvious when you contrast the AWD models. There, the gas CX-5 suffers in all cycles — to the tune of 3 mpg in the city, 1 mpg on the highway, and 2 mpg combined.

Back in early 2017, Mazda North American Operations President and CEO Masahiro Moro said the diesel engine would first appear in high-end trims like the Grand Touring, then filter downward. In this case, you’re already paying a premium, and will surely pay an additional sum for diesel power.

The CX-5 diesel won’t have the compact diesel crossover market to itself. General Motors already sells the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain with a smaller-displacement oil-burner of 1.6 liters, this one making 240 lb-ft of twist. While the Mazda seems destined to beat its output, the GM twins offer significantly better fuel economy.

In AWD guise, the Equinox diesel earns an EPA rating of 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined. Highway mileage grows to 39 mpg in front-drive models. It’s also worth noting that compact hybrid crossovers, while hardly built for stump pulling, return impressive MPG numbers. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid offers all-wheel drive and 32 mpg combined.

It’s likely the Skyactiv-D, which Mazda originally wanted to bring to the States in the Mazda 6 sedan, saw new emissions controls during its delayed trip through the certification process. This might explain the slimmer-than-expected gap between gasoline and diesel economy.

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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  • Carrera Carrera on Aug 10, 2018

    I would love a Mazda CX5 diesel if the engine would be offered across all trim levels and it would not add more than $1,000 over a comparable gas version. The way things are going lately with most manufacturers, the diesel engine is only available in the top trims and also add 3500-4500 dollars. I can see a Mazda CX5 Grand Touring diesel being $42,000 which of course would be insane and it would have about 3,000 sales per year. As for the EPA, I am sure this engine would easily achieve 44-45 mpg or more on the hwy which is very good for a non-hybrid SUV. Not really a good comparison to the Chevy diesel since that's a much smaller engine.

  • Milehigh Milehigh on Oct 13, 2018

    One word: Altitude. For some of us who live at 5000+ feet, taking a 20% hit in engine efficiency at altitude right off the lot is unacceptable. So, take the 155hp gas engine and feed it some sparse air - making it a real world 124hp - now compare that to the Diesel in performance and economy figures. Bringing your own atmosphere to the party is key in higher elevations, and while there are some promising trends in forced-induction gas engines of late, few have made it to AWD compact SUV platforms save the ubiquitous Subaru (who just removed the turbo motor from the Forester lineup). If they would just put an oil burner in a CrossTrek or at least bolt the WRX compressor on it, I'd be in - though still at a lower economy rating than the CX-5D. The little Lexus is cute, but the price of admission is fairly steep... and again, the fuel economy isn't there either. Maybe that engine will trickle down into the Toyota line before long and at least make it more affordable on the front end. Everyone isn't a slave to the EPA numbers, and performance generally has a cost in one factor or another. I think the CX-5 Diesel will find a home where it makes sense - that may not be in the mainstream, but some folks in the high country will welcome it.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.