The ride came to an end for the Mazda CX-5 diesel over a year ago, but nobody really noticed it was gone until now. A diesel crossover seems like a terrific idea; this one just arrived too late and cost too much. Its attractive shape simply wasn’t enough to counter the meh fuel economy and the lofty price.
The news of the diesel’s demise was widely reported last week as a decision by Mazda to cancel the 2021 model. A Mazda spokesperson, Justin Pagtalunan, told CarsDirect the bad news:
After evaluating consumer demand, Mazda will no longer offer the Skyactiv-D diesel engine in the U.S. market. Mazda will continue to advance its diesel technology globally as part of our Multi-Solution Powertrain Strategy.
But wait, there’s more to the story, and most of the reports missed it: A quick search for used cars turned up no 2020 CX-5 diesels for sale in the country. Did the diesel version actually die at the end of the 2019 model year? Is it just possible that nobody noticed?
We asked Mazda for more information and were told:
The 2020 MY CX-5 and Mazda6 diesels were certified but were never on sale in the US.
So while Mazda did certify the diesels for 2020, it did not sell any. Technically, then, the CX-5 diesel actually died in 2020.
The diesel launched in 2019, about 10 years after Mazda introduced the Skyactiv-D engine at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. The diesel engine was available only in the high end Signature trim. The Signature trim alone is roughly a $10,000 upgrade, with the diesel engine commanding an additional $4,100 on top. Sadly, its fuel economy rating — up to 29-mpg combined — was just 1-mpg more than the best gasoline equivalent.
The diesel was originally supposed to find a home in the 2014 Mazda6. However, Mazda faced challenges meeting emissions standards. When it finally launched, America’s view on diesels had been damaged by Dieselgate.
Still, in our review we felt the crossover was pretty decent.
I appreciate that the CX-5 diesel exists. Variety is nice, and this is a nice idea. Agreeable as a daily driver, it has an impressively quality interior, too. Also, props to Mazda for building a diesel car that, you know, doesn’t cheat. (We think.)
But I also can’t shake the feeling this car sort of missed the boat. Had it come out 10ish years ago like it was supposed to, it probably would have had a fighting chance, since hybrids weren’t as prevalent and diesel’s reputation hadn’t been messed up beyond repair yet.
Indeed, I bet this vehicle would have sold better 10 years ago. Alternatively, if the CX-5 diesel delivered better fuel economy, more buyers might have paid the premium for it.
I’m a diesel fan, so I’m always sad to see a diesel go. However, it appears the CX-5 diesel really didn’t have a place in the market. A 1-mpg gain isn’t enough reason to fork over the extra cash. I suppose they sold so slowly that not even automotive media realized it was gone.