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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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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.

  • Bd2 Tesla is the most important company in the world, responsible for mass enlightenment and empowerment of the educated affluent masses. This lawsuit will only impede the progress of the human race.
  • Aja8888 Good! Hope the owners' win the case, but it will probably be a long time before Tesla releases repair particulars to 3rd party shops. There is a Tesla service center near me I see every day that is absolutely loaded with service-waiting vehicles (parked for weeks) and I'm sure those owners are not thrilled.
  • SCE to AUX I've seen several Fisker Oceans, but not a single 400 Z.
  • Luke42 With Elon Musk just randomly firing the Supercharger team, Tesla has demonstrated that it isn’t a reliable business partner over the long-term.Being able to get 3rd-party repairs just got a lot more important.I’ve also been upping my Tesla-DIY game.That said, I just put 5000 miles on my Model Y in a month (family-obligations) using the Supercharger Network, and my EV is an incredibly capable vehicle when viewed through an engineering lens. As a car guy, driving my EV through the Appalachian mountains where I learned to drive was truly an experience of holding a tiger by the tail and guiding it where I want to go. But, when looking at my Tesla with Elon in charge of sales & service, I do have some serious concerns about the long-term stability of Tesla as a business.My current plan is to trade my Model Y and my GMC Sierra in on a Silverado EV or GMC Sierra EV once the price/availability/finance picture looks favorable. Elon’s unhinged behavior and the Toyota/Honda’s refusal to innovate are making GM look like a good long-term bet to me.I’ll put up with all of this in order to continue driving an EV, though. Even the best gasoline and diesel vehicles are slow buzzy buckets of bolts that smell bad, compared to my EV — so I’m not going back to a 20th century vehicle voluntarily.