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Recently Driven

2019 Mazda CX-5 Diesel

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer    

The taut unadorned flanks of the CX-5 are highlighted by finely-rendered bright accents

The current Mazda CX-5, which debuted for the 2017 model year is the second-generation of the vehicle that first went on sale for 2012. The CX-5 has been embraced by the marketplace and is one of the leading compact crossovers available. The vehicle that is the subject of this review is the new 2.2L turbodiesel that went on sale late in the 2019 model year and is offered only in the range-topping Signature trim. The available engines for the CX-5 are a normally-aspirated 2.5L four, a turbocharged version of that engine as well as the new 2.2L turbodiesel.

Mazda has promised this engine since the current Mazda 6 debuted back in 2014, but its introduction was delayed for many years and it has now appeared under the hood of a different vehicle than it was originally intended for.

Vehicle tested 2019 Mazda CX-5 turbodiesel
Body Style Four-door crossover
Engine 2.2L turbodiesel four (168 horsepower) 
Transmission Six-speed automatic
MSRP Price spread (2019 CX-5 model range) $27,850 to $45,950
Price as tested $45,950
Observed fuel economy 10.7 liters per 100 kilometres


The 2.2L turbodiesel is a very refined engine

The new turbodiesel under the hood of the CX-5 is a 2.2L unit that produces 168 horsepower and a stump-pulling 290 lb-ft of torque. Power reaches all wheels via a conventional hydraulic six-speed automatic transmission.  

No doubts as to what fuel is required. The blue cap on the right is to replenish the AdBlue urea tank 

Mazda calls its current styling ethos Kodo. Whatever it is called, it results in visually restrained vehicles that do not suffer from the excess of surface busyness prevalent in so many vehicles today, but retains a visual tension which is highlighted by artistically-rendered bright accents. Mazda is aiming at a look reflecting something akin to mainstream premium for its vehicles. Mazda has succeeded.  

Simply elegant cabin features attractive materials. Bright sunlight highlights the dark brown seating surfaces and armrest panels of the top Signature trim 

The driver faces a very traditional gauge package but the centre-mounted speedometer is actually a transistor-film -technology (TFT) unit of stunning clarity. Mazda’s familiar infoscreen takes centre place at the top of the dashboard and the audio and communications functions, are controlled by a console-mounted rotary wheel and a series of buttons that are quite easy to deal with.

The cabin of the CX-5 is without doubt, the most finely-crafted of the compact crossover segment. All trims feature a traditional, visually-calming cabin finished in attractive low-sheen plastics, copious soft-touch surfaces and very convincing faux alloy trim accents. The Signature trim ups the ante with genuine wood trim accents as well as sumptuous Nappa leather upholstery. Unique to the Signature is a very discreet (bright sunlight needed) two-toning with dark brown seats and door armrests contrasting with the rest of the black interior. The front seats feel unyielding when first experienced but occupants and the seats come to an accommodation after a few days and the seats prove comfortable in the long run. Mazda, once a paragon of space-efficiency, seems to have lost that gene over the last decade or so and interior space, especially for rear seat riders, is more adequate than generous, trailing competitors like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. Cargo space is sufficient but not as large as it is in the aforementioned competitors.  

Tall, regularly shaped cargo area is not as generous as it is in major competitors 

While 168 horsepower is hardly an arresting number, the 290 lb-ft. of torque produced by the 2.2L turbodiesel is impressive. While occupants are aware that the engine is a compression-ignition unit at idle, it is very quiet for a diesel. In low-speed driving, some drivers thought the diesel was is no noisier than the normally-aspirated 2.5L four that propels most CX-5s. With the massive wave of torque emanating from under the hood, the CX-5 diesel rarely needs more than a whisper of throttle to get it moving and keep it moving. The compression-ignition aspect of the diesel makes itself known during brisk acceleration but the engine is generally quite serene. Like the now-defunct Chevrolet Equinox diesel, the CX-5 will easily maintain any reasonable cruising speed but acceleration is blunted over 110 kilometres-per-hour or so. Overall fuel consumption of 10.7L/100 km was higher than expected and casts a shadow on the fiscal utility of buying the diesel.

The conventional six-speed automatic transmission is well-matched to the 2.2L diesel and works unobtrusively.

Steering weight is heavier than in the gasoline versions of the CX-5 but loads up nicely while cornering.

In typical Mazda fashion, the CX-5’s ride is firmly compliant with good control and no road shock from even significant road surface imperfections. However, handling is a bit more ponderous on the diesel than with the gas engine; perhaps a reflection of its 145 kilograms heavier weight than the normally-aspirated 2.5L version.

Braking is strong but there is more lost motion and insufficient initial bite from the pedal than desirable.

Warm weather during the week with the CX-5 highlighted the fact that the air-conditioning system needs to be stronger.

CX-5 all-wheel drive pricing begins at just under $30,000, but our lavishly-equipped Signature diesel bore a $45,950 MSRP, $5000 more than the 2.5L turbocharged version of the Signature.

Mazda Canada sells its cars with a three year basic warranty and a five year powertrain warranty, both with unlimited mileage. Mazda had a serious reliability wobble beginning with the original Mazda 3 in 2004, but since 2008 or so, reliability has returned to above average. There is no reliability information available for the diesel engine in North America.

The 2019 Mazda CX-5 earned Good ratings for all the crash categories tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), including headlamps. 

Smooth and tidy rear styling of the CX-5 

Taken as an isolated case, the new turbodiesel CX-5, with good power, abundant torque and generally quiet operation, looks like a tempting proposition. However, when balanced against the $5000 price premium over the gasoline turbocharged 2.5L Signature, and its observed 10.7L/100 km fuel economy (versus the 9.8L/100 km gas turbo figure from NRCan), there is, except for devoted diesel fans, little incentive to select the diesel.

Restricting diesel power to the super-premium Signature trim may be Mazda either testing the market to see if there is wider interest in the diesel engine concept, or a passive admission that they don’t expect that there will be too many takers for the 2.2L turbodiesel. That said, kudos to Mazda for finally offering the turbodiesel in North America.