Mazda has been promising a U.S. version of its global diesel motor in the CX-5 crossover for years, and it's finally arrived, "with pre-sales beginning immediately." The queue, however, in the U.S. could be shorter than originally expected.
The Japanese automaker said at the New York auto show on Wednesday that the long-awaited Skyactiv-D 2.2-liter motor "addresses the strong demand for a diesel engine in the U.S. that offers a premium driving experience."
But the numbers Mazda offered for its debut diesel model — a CX-5 Signature trim with all-wheel drive — could make it a hard sell.
Jeffery Guyton, the newly named president of Mazda North American Operations, said in a press release that "as Mazda continues our climb toward premium, we will offer more powertrain choices that premium customers expect." The turbocharged four-cylinder diesel is part of that effort.
At the New York presentation, Guyton also said the brand was working on a diesel option for the Mazda6 sedan, noting that the brand has successfully sold advanced diesel engines in markets around the world, including Japan and Europe. Guyton sold the motor as a differentiator for Mazda.
“We do things differently in order to try and do them better,” he said during the presentation. “Now, Mazda’s unique diesel engine is a great example of this. And what makes Mazda’s diesel technology so remarkable is we designed the combustion process itself to produce very few harmful emissions in the first place.”
But with a suggested retail price of $42,045, including shipping, and an estimated 28 mpg combined in city and highway driving, the CX-5 Signature AWD diesel is more expensive, less powerful and only moderately more fuel efficient (15 percent) than the new turbocharged gasoline version wearing the same trim.
Mazda said in the release that it worked with federal and state agencies to ensure that the diesel motor meets all the required emissions standards, but diesel vehicles (with the exception of work trucks) were not very popular in the U.S. even before Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal erupted in 2015.
The 2019 CX-5 Signature AWD model with the Skyactiv-D engine will be available in four colors: Jet Black, Snowflake White Pearl, Soul Red Crystal and Machine Gray Metallic, Mazda said.
Last year, sales of the CX-5 rose 18 percent in the competitive U.S. compact crossover segment, which saw an overall increase of 8.6 percent. With 150,622 deliveries, it ranked No. 8.