The Mazda CX-5 Diesel Is Still AWOL

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
the mazda cx 5 diesel is still awol

When it was rumors and innuendo, when it was delayed, when it was confirmed but unattainable, when it was launched, when it was actually under the hood of a vehicle we could drive on this continent, we’ve covered the story of Mazda’s diesel engine.

It’s a 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a measly 168 horsepower but a stirring 290 lb-ft of stump-pulling torque. It resides not in the Mazda 6 for which it was originally intended but rather the highly acclaimed Mazda CX-5. It’s available only in the CX-5’s top-spec Signature trim, and only then at a $4,110 premium that drives the price up to an eye-watering $41,000. Its fuel economy gains are so minimal that the economic case for the CX-5 diesel is nonexistent.

And after one model year and just enough demand to help (in some small way) propel the CX-5 to yet another record sales year, the Mazda CX-5 diesel is missing. Truant. Unaccounted for.

Moreover, there’s no timetable for the CX-5 diesel’s return.

Furthermore, to add more layers to the engine’s bizarre history, its return may well coincide with the appearance of an all-wheel-drive, diesel-powered Mazda 6 (the market for which must surely measure in the single-digit dozens.)

It doesn’t take a deep dive to discover that Mazda’s gone strangely silent on the subject of the diesel CX-5 in model year 2020. On both sides of the 49th parallel, on both the Build and Price sections of and, the 2.2-liter is no longer displayed as an option on the Signature trim. Likewise, turn to specifications pages and the 2020 CX-5 is listed with two engine configurations: the standard 187-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the 250-horsepower turbocharged variant. (Don’t even get us started on Skyactiv-X timelines.)

Mind you, the Skyactiv-D powerplant earns its own independent vehicle listing as a 2019 model. lists 22 such vehicles in stock in the United States. But in the world of the 2020 CX-5, which would be just the second model year in history for the Skyactiv-D, no such vehicle exists. There’s no Coming Soon; no Sign Up For Updates; no discussion of combined fuel economy up to 29 mpg.

Although we’re now deep into the first quarter of 2020, Mazda’s brand communications senior manager Drew Cary says there is “no update yet on the diesel for the 20MY,” but Mazda did clarify that the brand “recently received certification for both CX-5 and Mazda6.” In further discussion, Cary mentioned that, “Mazda hasn’t confirmed if they will be sold in the 2020 model year.”

Despite the apparent lack of certainty surrounding the CX-5 Skyactiv-D, Mazda confirmed that if the company does bring the diesel back to market, and if that process includes introducing it in the 6 midsize sedan, it would be the first iteration of the current-generation 6 to include all-wheel drive.

But will the small, independent, Japanese automaker even bother? Even without a diesel, the CX-5 is Mazda’s crown jewel. Through the first one-sixth of 2020, 53 percent of Mazda’s U.S. sales volume has been produced by the CX-5, sales of which jumped 14 percent, year-over-year. On the flip side, investing in the Mazda 6 midsize sedan may well be a fool’s errand. Only 21,524 6s were sold in the U.S. last year, the fourth consecutive year of decline for the 6 and a 63-percent drop since 2015.

Initial intentions to generate 10 percent of CX-5 sales volume fell by the wayside when the diesel’s official fuel economy ratings made it only slightly more efficient than the 2.5-liter CX-5, when it didn’t offer as much torque as the 2.5-liter turbo, and when Mazda paired the engine exclusively with the loftiest trim level. Incentives soared as demand failed to materialize.

If given another shot in 2020, is there any reason to believe the outcome will be different this year than it was last year? And given the fact that Mazda sales are finally on a positive trajectory, climbing 18 percent in 2020 so far thanks in large part to the addition of the new CX-30, might Mazda be wise to just forget its diesel losses?

[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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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Mar 08, 2020

    Imagine having to support the few diesels they actually did sell. Then imagine the awful trade-in poison they will be to their owners and the used-car dealers who take them off their hands.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Mar 09, 2020

    I wish modern Mazduh was AWOL - over priced vehicles with fake luxury. A brand truly in search of a real reputation - they put on aires for no reason.

    • Conundrum Conundrum on Mar 09, 2020

      And as usual, you're the only genius here. What pile of crap do you navigate over the highways and byways, so that I know what to avoid?

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.