Mazda CX-5 Diesel: Giving Yourself the Skyactiv-D

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
mazda cx 5 diesel giving yourself the skyactiv d

Mazda has certainly bent over backwards to get its new diesel to the U.S. market. Originally slated to premiere inside the 2017 CX-5, Mazda’s Skyactiv-D failed to receive approval from the Environmental Protection Agency. We’ve followed the story for a while, including when it concerned the Mazda 6, sometimes wondering why the company would even bother pursuing such an endeavor.

In addition to appeasing the EPA, Mazda also needed to satisfy thrifty diesel buyers. But it didn’t look like the 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D had the specs necessary to positively impact CX-5 sales. In development for a while and twice stalled by regulators, the end result of this engine overhaul is a compromised powerplant that’s even weaker than we feared, debuting miserably late with a premium price tag.

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Mazda. Back when the Skyactiv-D was in the early phases of development, Volkswagen was proving to the world that diesels could deliver… until that turned out to be a huge, unfixable lie.

The motor now makes 168 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, with an EPA estimated 27 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Combined economy is 28 mpg. It doesn’t really shine, not even when you compare it to the CX-5’s other engine options. While noticeably down on torque, the base powerplant still manages to make 181 hp and deliver nearly identical fuel economy when mated to an all-wheel drive system.

However, it’s the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G that makes the new diesel look bad. With 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque on tap, the turbocharged G is only outclassed by the diesel’s mpg ratings. But it’s not much of a victory. With an MSRP of $42,045, the Skyactiv-D will be exclusive to the CX-5 Signature AWD. For those of you who don’t browse automotive websites regularly, that’s the model’s most-expensive trim. Frankly, we doubt you’d ever manage to recoup your losses on the 2.2-liter diesel, even if you spend your days feathering the gas pedal like boy band hair.

You can already get the 2.5-liter with the same trim and more power for several thousand less, making Mazda’s decision to position the diesel as the priciest way to get into CX-5 a little perplexing. Our best guess is that the automaker already sees this as a failure and figures someone looking for a handsome diesel won’t mind paying a premium for the privilege.

Perhaps it’ll turn out better than it looks on paper. If you’re a fanatic for this particular fuel, Mazda says the order books are open now. But we’ll until after an extended test drive before reaching any hard conclusions about the company’s twice-delayed diesel.

[Images: Mazda; © Tim Healey/TTAC]

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3 of 26 comments
  • Terry Terry on Apr 18, 2019

    Lie2me, if you check out the CX-5 Turbo, do yourself a favor. Push the Sport mode button on the console. Normal D takes off strong just as you'd imagine 310-lb ft would do in a small crossover. But it shifts way too early in my opinion. Which is fine for most driving. Sport mode lets it hold gears longer, mpg be damned. Redline is only 6300, but in normal D mode WOT upshifts occur at 5500. Over 4K rpm with Premium fuel you get another 23 HP, torque remains the same 310 @ 2K rpm. Shame about the diesel mpg. I routinely get 29.5 on a long highway slog with my CX-5 Signature Turbo.

  • Deanst Deanst on Apr 18, 2019

    This competes with chevy’s turbo 4 Silverado as dumbest power train of the year.

  • Sgeffe Honda should breathe a sigh of relief! This makes the decimation of the Cam..”Accord”..look like a bathroom accident! Funny thing, as was pointed out, that apparently mirroring the user’s phone wasn’t the be-all end-all! What a disgrace! 😂
  • Wayne no one ever accused Mary Teresa Barra of being smart
  • Mike1041 I’m sure that it’s cheaper to install a Google system than pay for Apple and android. Simple cost reduction with all the pr crap to make the user think it’s better
  • MKizzy A highly visible steering wheel lock is the best deterrent when the H/K thieves are amateurs looking for a joyride. The software fix may be effective in keeping an H/K car where you parked it, but I doubt most wannabe kia boyz will bother checking for the extra window sticker before destroying the window and steering column. Also, I guarantee enough H/K drivers won't bother getting either the software fix or a steering column lock to keep these cars popular theft targets for years to come. Therefore, any current H/K owners using a steering column lock should consider continuing to do so for the long term.
  • Jack For me, this would be a reason for rejection if considering a purchase of one of these overgrown golf carts.