By on April 18, 2019

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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26 Comments on “Mazda CX-5 Diesel: Giving Yourself the Skyactiv-D...”


  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m more interested in the rumour, which I read about on Car and Driver, that AWD might come to the Mazda6. Many of my driving trips are too short to justify the expense, and if I understand correctly could cause damage if the carbon isn’t burned off the particulate filter. If true it makes thae decision harder about pulling off the bandaid and going for an auto.

    My mom just picked up a leftover 18 Mazda3 iSport with the auto and it’s surprisingly pleasant.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    So, at least Mazda realizes that they’re a day late and a dollar short on the diesel and will only sell 5 of them. Good, they won’t be disappointed

    Looking forward to checking out the CX-5 with the Turbo. That should make the CX-5 a near perfect compact crossover

  • avatar
    NutellaBC

    Disappointing. A 2015 Mercedes GLK diesel with a similar small diesel had 30 more hp, 70lb more torque and better gas mileage despite being shaped like a brick….and it was CARB emission compliant, unlike VWs.
    It looks like Mazda needs to go back to the drawing board .

    • 0 avatar
      Menar Fromarz

      Indeed, my 2014 GLK Bluetec gets me 35-38 MPG average, so what was the point of this all in a small sedan?please?
      My old 2013 Lexus Ct250h gave me 52 MPG, which is what this should do with some hybridization. Otherwise, you just have to WANT the Zoom Zoom factor.
      Pass.

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        have you had to replace the DPF ? I had looked into this motor , and was reading horror stories of the crazy replacement costs of the filter. Me thinks Mazda should’ve put the few eggs they have into hybrid tech.

    • 0 avatar
      kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh

      The last 4-banger CDI used in the GLK (2012) made less power than this Mazda unit. only the CDI v6 makes more. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_GLK-Class

      the MERC engine is also IRON, this is a all aluminum block. Less compression used in the Mazda unit results in less power.

      but *really* .. they DON’T want US people to buy them, its expensive to import thanks to EPA over-testing, so selling more gassers is more ‘profitable’. As long as they PRODUCE the diesel and make it available .. they met US EPA / CARB tax mandates… (whether they sell or not). if they don’t i bet there’s a fancy tax right off somewhere.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Top-trim paywall, DPF systems, circa 1993 power levels, years of tweaking the international version to get it to meet US emission laws, a service department that won’t be very familiar with them, and competing with gasoline engines that already offer a diesel-like rev-hating power delivery.

    You’d have to *REALLY* love diesel to go for this.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “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.”

    That’s downright embarrassing.

    Worse, I predict the resale on these -Ds will be terrible. A lot has changed in 5 years.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Mazda fills another dubious and obscure US market niche in an attempt at relevancy to stop its continuing slide in volume. Sad and rather pathetic.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I do love diesel but not when it is offered only in the top of the line trim and gets not that great mileage per gallon.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    They won’t sell too many and the diesel mechanics at Mazda will be as rare as unicorns.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I don’t understand how the zoom zoom guys give us this , when most of us would prefer a Mazdaspeed product. I’m 90% sure they’d sell more Mazdaspeed whatvers 3/6/ then 40k cx5s

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    Pitiful fuel economy, strangled output, festooned with unreliable devices that do nothing to improve actual vehicle function, all because of mercurial emissions priorities? Sounds like the late 70’s, except this time it’s specific to compression-ignition engines. This is the Diesel Malaise Era, and yes, it makes diesel fandom look irrational.

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Shifty

      just because some crusty old fox news grandpa doesn’t believe in pollution, emissions controls are a bad thing. what a laugh

      • 0 avatar
        Gedrven

        I didn’t say they were unnecessary – smog and climate change are facts whether we like them or not – I called them mercurial, that is, changing rapidly and a little too easily. One moment we’re all about CO2 and fuel consumption (where diesels shine), the next we’re up in arms over local air quality (where they don’t, unless strangled, mostly via retarded injection timing)*. All while missing the bigger picture that population levels, nevermind growth, are unsustainable no matter what transportation technology we use. Environmental activism that addresses the latter without the former is ironically wasteful.

        *An illustrative example: 1983 Dodge Ram 50 4wd diesel was rated at 24mpg highway for the California version, 28mpg highway for the Federal one. I took a Cali one, timed the pump by ear, and for the next few years it did ~27 combined and several tanks at 32mpg highway (60-75mph).

  • avatar
    Terry

    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.

  • avatar
    deanst

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


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