The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2019 Mazda CX-5 Diesel First Review From Larry Nutson

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

SEE ALSO: Mazda Diesel News Archive

We test drive the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Diesel
A somewhat exclusive first drive

By Larry Nutson
Executive Producer and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

A Mazda Diesel? Really? Yes, at long last!

I’ve just driven the new 2019 Mazda CX-5 Diesel Signature AWD. It’s quite good and it comes with some added cost. But it does provide some benefits.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Mazda started talking about bringing a diesel engine to the U.S. way back in the early part of this decade. The first plan was to offer it in the Mazda6 sedan. Then that changed. Now, today, the Skyactiv-D diesel engine can be had in the 5-seat 2019 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover SUV.

It was no easy road for Mazda, especially following the Volkswagen Dieselgate cheating fiasco. Mazda had to bear the brunt of significantly increased scrutiny from both the U.S. EPA and California’s Air Resources Board. This caused a lot of delay. Mazda worked in collaboration with the two agencies to develop realistic real-world driving evaluations of its diesel engine. And now the end result is that the CX-5 Diesel is available in all 50 states. Cooperation and teamwork pays off.

If you follow motorsports many of you might recall the diesel powered Mazda6 sedan that competed in the Grand-Am's Rolex Series GX class. Following this was Mazda’s diesel LMP2 car in the IMSA TUDOR series starting in 2014. Motorsports is a great development tool and used my many automakers to provide improved products for the every-day driver.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

For 2019 CX-5 introduced a high-quality interior and this brought about a new top-tier Signature trim level. Recognizing that diesel engines appeal to a unique, premium customer, the Skyactiv-D diesel engine is available only in the CX-5 Signature All-wheel drive, the top premium trim level. Its price: $41,000.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D engine uses sequential twin turbochargers that allow the engine to deliver a smooth and linear response from low to high engine speeds. Mazda’s diesel is high-revving with a 5,500 rpm rev limit. It develops good torque through the entire ranger from low to high rpm.

The Skyactiv-D 2.2 engine is rated at 168 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and 290 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic. EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 27 mpg city, 30 mpg highway with 28 mpg combined.

Diesel engines are all about low-end torque as well as lower fuel consumption. For comparison, the gasoline engine CX-5 Signature is EPA rated at 22 city mpg and 27 highway mpg. High torque at low rpm is what gets you moving. This results in a trailer tow rating for the diesel CX-5 of 3,500 lbs. compared to 2,000 lbs. for the gas engine CX-5. That’s significant!

The CX-5 diesel drives just as well as the gasoline engine models. The diesel engine has a very low (for a diesel) 14.1:1 compression ratio. This allows the use of an aluminum block and cylinder head that helps to keep good vehicle overall weight balance. Ride and handling are refined, smooth and also sporty, just as you would expect from a Mazda.

Some engine noise is perceptible but it’s not much different than a gasoline engine. As I mentioned, there is plenty of low end torque for quick acceleration as well as good mid-range response for merging and passing.

In big-city, stop and go driving around my Chicago home, most often in the 20 to 25 mph range with frequent stop signs and red lights, I was averaging 25 mpg, which is a couple mpg below the EPA city rating. Last winter I drove the gasoline-engine CX-5 Signature and was getting 16-17 mpg around town. So the diesel is a big step up in economy.

I made a few purposeful highway drives to see what kind of MPG I could get. I was pleasantly surprised that the CX-5 diesel was getting 40 to 41 mpg. That’s much better than the EPA ratings. I tried a couple different driving styles on these highway drives. For one drive I kept no more than 5 mph above the 55 mph speed limit (PSL). On another I drove 10 to 15 mph above the PSL. And for a third I just drove with the prevailing traffic. The fuel consumption remained in the same 40-41 mpg range.

With the CX-5’s 15.3 gallon fuel tank I was looking at a 600 mile driving range. That’s an all-day non-stop highway drive, save for those biological breaks.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

U.S. Energy Information Administration says the October 1, 2019 average national price of regular gasoline was $2.642 compared to the average price of diesel at $3.066 per gallon.

Yes that’s 42-cents a gallon more. However, if one were to be a frequent highway driver and put on lots of miles in a year, the diesel might just pay off. This combined with the heavier trailer towing ability or the better overall vehicle response when fully loaded makes for a compelling argument in favor of the diesel.

Also note that gasoline and diesel fuel prices vary widely across all 50-states. For example, in Chicago diesel fuel is about 10-cents cheaper than regular gasoline.

A first for Mazda is a prepaid maintenance plan for two years or 30,000 miles. And, let’s not overtook saving time. Time is money. Fewer trips to the fuel pumps makes for more time for yourself.

Visit for more facts and information. If you like, my review on the CX-5 Signature with the 2.5-L gasoline engine is right HERE

Diesel purists will most likely be the core buyers of the CX-5 Skyactiv-D. Mazda knows this and that’s why they introduced it. The CX-5 Diesel is on the market now.

© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy