Remember when diesel was going to be the great fuel-economy savior of light-truck segments? Just about every manufacturer was developing a diesel engine for North America, with stringent U.S. emissions laws preventing them from using one of the many diesels they already sell overseas. Then Volkswagen’s Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal happened, and such diesel plans evaporated seemingly overnight.
Related: More New York Auto Show Coverage
Called the CX-5 Signature AWD diesel, the oil-burning variant will top the lineup of trim levels for the SUV. It’s the latest move as Mazda attempts to move upscale by offering luxury-grade interiors for somewhat reasonable prices. The heart of this package will be a new twin-turbo 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D diesel four-cylinder. It will pump out just 168 horsepower but a significant 290 pounds-feet of torque, the latter at a low 2,000 rpm — characteristic of small turbo-diesel engines that make modest horsepower but loads of low-end torque.
Thanks to the higher energy density of diesel fuel, the benefit comes in a Mazda-estimated fuel economy of 27/30/28 mpg city/highway/combined. That’s an improvement over the 2019 gasoline CX-5’s EPA ratings with AWD (24/30/26 mpg with the non-turbo four-cylinder, 22/27/24 mpg with the turbo four). As of this writing, the EPA has yet to publish ratings for the diesel CX-5.
Mazda says it worked very closely with state and federal regulatory agencies to ensure that its new diesel engine meets emissions requirements. By comparison, higher-mileage compact crossovers exist; hybrid versions of the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue get as high as 40 mpg and 34 mpg combined, respectively, and both use regular-grade unleaded — which is about 8 percent cheaper than diesel fuel nationwide as of this writing, per AAA. Neither comes with the punch that 290 pounds-feet of torque can give you, however. That suggests Mazda is going for more of a performance puncher than a mileage champ.
More From Cars.com:
- 2019 Mazda CX-5 Adds Turbo Engine, New Trims
- 2018 Mazda6 Signature 2.5T First Drive: Premium Without the Status-Badge Price
- Mazda CX-30 Brings Mazda3 Style to All-New Small SUV
- Redesigned 2019 Mazda3 Simplifies Look, Introduces Hybrid
- 2019 Mazda3 Goes for Style and Elegance in a Big Way
The pricing bears that out. The CX-5 diesel starts around $42,000 including destination; that’s about $4,000 more than a gasoline CX-5 Signature AWD. Mazda did not say exactly when the CX-5 Signature diesel would hit dealers, but preorders are available now.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Aug. 27, 2019, to correct the model year.
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.