Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv-D 2.2 Preview

What it is:  A compression-ignition middle finger to the masses of virtually identical life-ends-with-children mobiles. Should also come with the bonus of meaningful steering feel and impressive road manners.

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Why it matters:  If the CX-5 diesel works as it should, it could offer segment-leading fuel economy and performance. According to a Mazda representative, the company’s most recent attempt at bringing a diesel stateside in the Mazda 6 ended with a tough decision. “It could be made to drive the way we wanted or it could meet U.S. emissions, but not both,” he said. “We wouldn’t accept that.” Mazda says it has solved that problem here. And so, with VW out of the TDI game, if you’re looking for a fun-to-drive diesel, it’ll likely be this one.

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Platform:  Mazda mildly altered the CX-5’s platform for the 2017 model year, providing a marginally lower center of gravity.  An additional 0.4 inch of track width increases stability.

Powertrain:  A urea-injected version of Mazda’s European-market sequentially turbocharged 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder mates exclusively to the company’s existing six-speed automatic transmission. Revisions to the engine’s injector design and injection strategy will help the 2.2 exceed the 173 horsepower it makes in the rest of the world. Drivability and NVH also will be improved over that engine, which chugs out 310 pound-feet of torque.

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Competition:  With VW’s presumably permanent diesel stop sale, Mazda could win buyers who can’t resist a modern oil burner. Kia’s Niro hybrid [see page 086] will offer similar or greater efficiency at the cost of slightly reduced cargo space and far less driver involvement. The rest of the crossover sea roils with choices lacking this CX-5’s efficiency, driving character, or both.

What might go wrong:  Though it’s unlikely Mazda will screw up its second run at a U.S. diesel, the EPA’s scrutiny of these powerplants has only increased since Dieselgate. Delays are possible.

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Estimated arrival and price:  Mazda says to expect the diesel-powered CX-5 no sooner than fall. No definitive word on pricing yet, but if the diesel engine is available in lower trim levels, a sub$30,000 version is possible.

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