By on April 22, 2019

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature Skyactiv-D - Image: Mazda


Mazda’s promised diesel-powered CX-5 is now open for pre-order in the United States, years after we began chronicling the Skyactiv-D’s lethargic march to North America.

TTAC’s coverage of Mazda diesel delays goes back nearly six years, when the future of Mazda’s Skyactiv-D was linked to a future Mazda 6. It was a story that received more attention in 2014. Eventually, in late 2016, there was confirmation of a Mazda CX-5 diesel. Arrival date: second half of 2017.

By the second half of 2017, however, the timing of the diesel CX-5’s arrival was unknown. Fast forward past a promising NHTSA filing, then a CARB certification, and then the release of EPA fuel economy ratings to the 2019 New York International Auto Show.

The Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD Diesel is ready, Mazda insists. But at $42,045, there’s simply no reason for its existence in America.

2019 Mazda CX5 Skyactiv-D - Image: MazdaGranted, it’s not the first time a vehicle’s diesel engine option required a hefty financial burden. Generally, automakers would demand greater financial outlay, but owners were reimbursed with a significant torque advantage and meaningful fuel savings.

The Mazda CX-5’s Signature line – heretofore available exclusively as an all-wheel-drive model with the 2.5-liter turbo seen first in the larger CX-9 – will conduct itself in a different manner. There’s a huge horsepower deficit, a quantifiable torque disadvantage, and a modest fuel economy benefit. Factor in the extra cost of diesel fuel and the potential cost savings at the pump dwindle further.

Here’s the simple math.

Mazda CX-5 Diesel By The Numbers - Image: © TTACWith 250 horsepower (220 on regular fuel) and 310 lb-ft of torque, the current Mazda CX-5 Signature is priced at $37,935, destination included. You’ll need to find another $4,110 to select the 2.2-liter diesel, which produces 82 fewer ponies and 20 fewer lb-ft of torque. In both cases, max. torque is achieved at 2,000 rpm.

The CX-5 Skyactiv-D will use less fuel than the Skyactiv-G 2.5T, but the official ratings are hardly soul-stirring. The diesel’s 28 mpg combined fuel economy rating is only 4 mpg better than that of the 2.5T.

Over the course of 10,000 miles, the diesel CX-5 will consume 357 gallons of fuel. According to AAA’s current national average diesel price of $3.08, the CX-5’s annual diesel cost will be $1,100.

The gas-fired CX-5 2.5T will require 417 gallons of fuel over the course of a 10,000-mile year. The average price of regular fuel, $2.84/gallon, produces an annual cost of $1,183; or $1,417 on $3.40/gallon premium fuel if you want to maximize CX-5 2.5T horsepower.

Assuming, improbably, no extra interest charges accompanying the $4,110 Skyactiv-D upcharge, the diesel costs $822 extra per year over the course of a 5-year payment plan. (Throw in around $60 extra for added interest costs at 2.9 percent, if you’d like.)

With $83 of annual fuel savings, it’ll take 49.5 years to recoup the Skyactiv-D’s upfront costs; 13 years at best.

Diesel fanatics aren’t unfamiliar with vaguely similar payback timelines. In the past, however, there were torque considerations to be, well, considered. There were resale value equations to calculate. But in the case of the Skyactiv-D, the diesel-like mid-range umph of the 2.5T squashes the torque argument, while the harm done to diesel’s reputation by Volkswagen’s TDI emissions scandal does little to bolster any residual value assertion.

Sometimes, good things come to those who wait.

Not this time.

At one point, Mazda suggested 10 percent of CX-5 shoppers would choose diesel, a figure that now does not seem remotely believable. Maybe the diesel Mazda 6 will tell a different tale?

[Images: Mazda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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38 Comments on “The Mazda CX-5 Diesel’s Economic Case Is Nonexistent...”

  • avatar

    Not mentioned is the double or triple life span of the typical diesel as compared to gas engine’s

    • 0 avatar

      I may have misread your post but I believe your saying that diesels have double to triple the life span of gas engines? If so your argument is 20 years out of date. I can replace an entire gas engine for cost of many “normal” diesel repairs in today’s world.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Also not mentioned is the need for AdBlue/DEF, and the thrill of driving a diesel in the winter with no heat. And, the hassle of finding a dealer with a technician trained to service it.

      As for lifespan, Hummer is right. Besides, who is really going to keep a CX-5 beyond the (supposed) 200-250k mile lifespan of its base gasoline engine? The vehicle will be a pile of rust by then.

      • 0 avatar

        SCE To AUX,
        The AD Blue if needed is a very small cost ( i am not sure if this Mazda needs it or not) The DEF is a big time expense if needed to replace at least on a VW it was, But the thrill of driving a diesel in the winter part pure BS, I had a TDI wagon for about 6 years and never had an issue with it starting or heat in the winter and I drove all the northeast and in Canada. Oil burners are not for everyone of course but for some they make sense, usually, the mileage is what is stated on the spec sheet unlike gas cars and you go a long way on a tank of fuel. the savings here do not seem to add up unless some other stuff is tossed in with the oil burning engine, in the past oil burners cars and suv’s had a great resale value which helps offset the upfront cash outlay, not sure if that is the same after the VW issues.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @seth1065: That’s interesting. My friend’s TDI wagon produced little to no heat during his 10-mile commute to work, year after year. But at least he enjoyed good fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar

            I wasn’t aware of the lack of heat issue with diesels. Anyone know the reason for this?

          • 0 avatar

            > I wasn’t aware of the lack of heat issue with diesels. Anyone know the reason for this?

            Increased efficiency means less waste heat.

            My friend installed an electric block heater in his Golf TDi when he had it. Just so that he can have a functional heater. He lives in Ontario. Made a huge difference.

          • 0 avatar

            Diesels take longer to warm up.

            My ‘07 Mercedes GL320 CDI 4Matic will produce acceptable cabin heating after roughly 10 minutes of driving after a cold start. The engine needs another 20 km or more to reach its optimal operating temperature.

            On my ‘18 Skoda Octavia Combi TDI vRS, heating is available after a relatively short three/five minutes, but the TDI engine also requires 20 km or more to warm up.

    • 0 avatar

      Not many keep a car long enough for even a gasoline engine to expire.

    • 0 avatar

      “Not mentioned is the double or triple life span of the typical diesel as compared to gas engine’s”

      Absolutely not happening these days. Like Hummer said, you’re much more likely to catch a repair bill equal to most of the cost of a total gas engine replacement long before the gas motor is anywhere close to worn out. The EcoDiesel 3.0L issues and the number of lemon buy-back Colorado diesels I’ve seen floating around is very telling.

    • 0 avatar

      The junkyards are full of cars with good engines, The engine lasts the life of the car. When a car gets 15 to 20 years old and needs a few grand repair, to the crusher it will go. Also the Mazda’s body will rust out up north long before the engine gets weak.

    • 0 avatar

      that hasn’t been true for a while (Cummins B-series excepted.) these aren’t big, low specific output, 2100-rpm redline truck engines.

    • 0 avatar

      The economic case does look marginal, but there are a couple of things we will need to wait and see. First, diesels typically better the EPA highway fuel economy estimates so the mpg advantage might be more than it appears. Second, turbo diesels have the durability to regularly operate under sustained boost while towing. Turbo gasoline engines are generally less well suited to such use as evidenced by their lower tow ratings.

  • avatar

    I think I read that the tow rating is better for the Diesel? Maybe it will sell to people who want a smallish daily driver but need to tow their something to the something on weekends.

  • avatar

    42 Grand baby CUV?!? LOL!!

  • avatar

    I realize someone who desires one may not desire the other, but think about how nice of a previously enjoyed Escalade one can get for 40 Grand……

  • avatar

    You should do your own math as the price of diesel varies across the country.

  • avatar

    $40k for a CX-5? Pass..

  • avatar

    I’m amazed that Mazda continued on with the certification process once VW’s shenanigans were revealed.

    One of these might be fun used (some other crazy person needs to take that initial depreciation hit), but definitely not worth $42xxx.

    The CX-5 Diesel will be rarer than a 9-4X in a few years.

  • avatar

    If fuel savings and ownership cost is one’s primary concern, then buy a lower-level trim CX-5 with the non-turbo engine and get fuel econonomy rated at 31 mpg highway, a far lower cost of entry, and a likely longer life-expectancy since it isn’t pressurized.

    So, does this just prove again that VW really screwed with people’s expectations? One couldn’t get super fuel economy AND meet modern emissions standards with a diesel engine?

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    The real statement should be:
    “As long as b20 diesel exists, a new compliant diesel makes no sense”
    Seriously, want to screw up your new diesel, fuel it with b20. It may be fine for an old 7.3 or 12 valve Cummins, but that was ages ago. As for the CX-5 Oiler mileage numbers, did they have the park brake on for the test?

  • avatar
    pale ghost

    I had a Mazda 6 skyactiv and it was the only car where I consistently beat the EPA estimates. I read a Mazda engineer saying they tune for real world mileage vs gaming the EPA tests. Possibly Mazda’s thought process is that the diesel will be justified in real world driving.

  • avatar

    Mazda’s plan with the CX-5 across all markets was to do a 2.0L gas and two flavors of the 2.2L diesel. And, that’s still what is offered for most of the world. They obviously underestimated how much of a PITA certification would be. Luckily the 2.5L and 2.5T worked well as replacements.

    If you live in the US, diesel really only makes sense of you’re towing over 15k and with Ford’s new gasoline big-block even that might not be the case much longer.

  • avatar

    10 years too late to the diesel party.
    That ship has sailed.

  • avatar

    Would love to see the 6 wagon come stateside instead of this, although the sales numbers may be similar. I would at least buy the wagon.

  • avatar

    Am I correct in thinking that the “death of the diesel” happened when government pollution standards were increased on them to more-or-less match gasoline engines?

    Am I also correct in thinking that this trucklet with a smaller version of the gasoline engine (and possibly back to 2-wheel-drive) would probably match the diesel’s economy figures but at a lower initial price?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Diesel died in September 2015 when VW was caught cheating.

    • 0 avatar

      Just finished reading an article in the latest SAE magazine about how medium duty trucks are switching to gasoline from diesel. Including school buses. My UPS delivery comes via a 6.0 GM gasser these days after decades of Cummins B series. Ford introing a new big gas V8 (pushrods!) and another outfit (Husker Power) has taken over manufacture of the GM big block selling an 8.8 liter version.

  • avatar

    I think this is Mazda’s way of “yeah, we know we promised this” but, not saying it aloud, “we want to honor that promise, but we also want to discourage you from pulling the trigger.”

    Then, deep in the background is a Mazda engineer cursing the H out of VW for causing him to jump through all kinds of bureaucratic hoops to demonstrate that they aren’t cheating. The same hoops that must have seriously detuned the engine.

  • avatar

    But the ability to roll some coal is priceless – why should only the big 3/4 ton 4x4s have all the fun.

  • avatar

    It’s not as if the SkyActiv 2.2 diesel gets great reviews in Europe either. Along with Honda’s 1.6 TD they stuff into CR-Vs, these Japanese diesels are out-of-date compared to Peugeot and BMW diesels. Opel gets PSA diesels too now.

    Mazda is well-known for picking an idea and sticking with it come what may, like the thirsty and oil-consuming Wankels. Just give it up, Mazda. Put the gas turbo in the 3AWD and be quick about it. The thought of a Subaru CVT fair makes my toes curl having had a WRX CVT for a weekend.

  • avatar

    What’s the point of diesel in the passenger car? Turbocharged engine has all the torque advantage you need without complications and problems of diesel engine. And if thats not enough – get EV with all its torque from zero rpm. Diesel is better suited for commercial use.

  • avatar

    The time to release a diesel CX-5 was back when diesels weren’t quite as restricted and could easily hit 40mpg in a car this size.

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