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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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.

  • 28-Cars-Later I'm actually surprised at this and not sure what to make of it. In recent memory Senator Biden has completely ignored an ecological disaster in Ohio, and then ignored a tragic fire in Hawaii until his handlers were goaded in sending him and his visit turned into it's own disaster, but we skipped nap time for this sh!t show? Seriously? We really are through the looking glass now, "votes" no longer matter (Hillary almost won being the worst presidential candidate since 1984 before he claimed the crown) and outside of Corvette nostalgia Joe doesn't care let alone know what day it happens to be. Could they really be afraid of Trump, who AFAIK has planned no appearance or run his mouth on this issue? Just doesn't make sense, granted this is Clown World so maybe its my fault for trying to find sense in a senseless act.
  • Tassos If you only changed your series to the CORRECT "Possibly Collectible, NOT Daily Driver, NOT Used car of the day", it would sound much more accurate AND TRUTHFUL.Now who would collect THIS heap of trash for whatever misguided reason, nostalgia for a much worse automotive era or whatever, is another question.
  • ToolGuy Price dropped $500 overnight. (Wait 10 more days and you might get it for free?)
  • Slavuta Must be all planned. Increase price of cars, urbanize, 15 minutes cities. Be poor, eat bugs
  • Sid SB Not seen a Core without the performance pack yet. Prefer the more understated look of the Core vs the Circuit, but both are great fun to drive.