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2017 Mazda CX-5: First Drive & Review


Note: I received a 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD to test drive around town for one week in order to facilitate my honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this article and all opinions are 100% my own.

Mazda CX-5 arrival. Photo cred: my 4 year old.

This past week our California weather was absolutely perfect for testing out the 2017 Mazda CX-5. Now that our family of four has grown to be a family of five, there are definitely specific features that we look for in a family friendly vehicle. I’m excited to share with you the things we loved about the CX-5!

If you are not familiar with the Mazda CX-5, it is a stylish crossover, with a classy interior and gorgeous features. I mean, let’s be honest, when looking for a vehicle the first thing we notice is it’s looks, right? My husband and I always go back and forth on this.  His favorite quote is, “It’s not about what it looks like, but what it can do.” He’s serious, one hundred percent serious, but thankfully we both easily came to the agreement that, at first look, the CX-5, is all around pretty stunning.

After my first few minutes behind the wheel of the 2017 CX-5, I can totally understand how this compact crossover has been such an all-around winner for Mazda. It feels like a lavish and high-end SUV but for a price that is shockingly much less.

Just a handful of my favorite features on the CX-5 include the popular heated and cooled seats, not only in the front of the vehicle, but there is even the option for heated seats on the back seats as well, which is the first I have personally tried. The Windshield-projected Active Driving Display with Traffic Sign Recognition (yes, this totally was a pleasant surprise for me too), rear seats that recline and amazing comfort. This is just a few of what we loved, but don’t worry, I have detailed pictures of everything!

At first drive, you really notice the 2.5 liter, four-cylinder engine. When merging onto the freeway, its more like gliding with how comfy the seats are and the exceptional steering is really noticeable. Again, this is typically something you would see in higher-end vehicles, so it is definitely a surprise to see such upscale features at the price point of the CX-5.

The white leather interior of the CX-5 is a huge step up in my opinion from last year’s model.  The two position memory driver’s seat and the six way power adjustable front passenger seat are also qualities we love in the CX-5. The heated steering wheel and rear seats are not something I thought we would find at this price point that was a pretty big surprise.

I personally really appreciated the infotainment controls that allow full access to the radio and touch screen without having to adjust the seat or lean forward while driving. I really hope that this carries over to all newer vehicles across the board as it is such a convenient advancement. The small nob controls the entire menu, including the navigation and radio. We found the navigation and Bluetooth capability very easy to use which is always a plus.

The heads up display also has a few tricks up its sleeve. Mazda calls it the “windshield-projected Active Driving Display,” which is the same thing, just a little fancier name. It shows your speed and navigations directions, but what I was impressed by was the traffic sign recognition. I didn’t actually notice this at first, but the heads-up display with actually show a photo of a stop sign as you are going to approach it, so you can focus on the road. Sometimes it’s the little things that really can be the most impressive, and this was one of them that I wasn’t expecting but safety wise, this was really nice to see.

One thing we noticed before installing the car seats is that the 2017 CX-5 has two additional USB outlets in the back seat, bringing it to a total of four. These are located in the arm rest when you lower it. Both of my children have their tablets to read and play learning games on when we go on lengthy rides, so I’m sure that most parents I know can really appreciate this. For a smaller family I think this is very useful, but unfortunately we weren’t able to take advantage of it being that we needed all of the 3 seats in the back for our children, so we did not have access to these. You also will notice the cup holders and the heated seat buttons, also a pretty awesome upgrade.

The rear seats now have a slight recline for a more comfortable seating position and each of our children’s car seats and boosters were very easy to install, big high fiver for Mazda on that one! Only downfall I would say to this would be that if the infant car seat is installed on one of the passenger sides, you cannot have a very tall person in the seat that sits in front. My husband was not able to set his seat back far enough to be comfortable, because it was touching the car seat. We were able to switch the car seat around as I am much smaller, so this was our work around, but if you have two tall drivers and an infant car seat, this could cause an issue for you.

The air-conditioning vents are also a newer feature. Unfortunately though for us the air vents are located on the back of the center floor console. I would of preferred to see an air vent above so that it could reach the entire back row evenly. For example, our 15 month old is still rear facing in his car seat and he will be until he is at least 2 years old, if not older. Having his rear facing meant that he did not have access to the air vents, as they certainly didn’t reach him. This posed a problem during our drive to Santa Cruz, being that it is about a 2 hour drive and on this specific day it was 103 degrees out. Our older children were just fine, but halfway through our drive we had to turn his car seat around so the vent could reach him because he was soaked in sweat. Even though we only turned him forward facing for a short while as we were close to our destination, it is not something I would recommend doing and honestly I was a little hesitant about. I would like to see an alternative option in the future to accommodate all passengers.

This however would be in most vehicles, so I am not knocking Mazda for this, as we typically only see ceiling air vents in larger SUV’s. It would just be nice to have that option. One of our favorite car seats is the Diono, and if you do need to have 3 children in car seats, I would highly recommend their seats as they are built well and you can easily fit 3 in a back seat,no problem without compromising safety.

We also noticed a substantial size difference in the legroom when my children were in the second-row passenger seats. I couldn’t believe how much room I had to install all 3 car seats, it really was great. When I read that Mazda extended their rear seat cushion, I thought that this was a great idea. While my children are all small at the moment, as parents we do prepare for the future and growing children is definitely something to consider when purchasing a family vehicle. Even if you do not have any children or possibly a smaller family, I’m sure that even the adults that ride in the back seats will appreciate the extra space they will have with the two-position rear bench. The rear doors also open much wider, which was also very noticeable. Another feature we noticed was the quiet interior. As promised Mazda provided a 10% noise reduction and it is definitely noticeable.

I’m pretty sure the sunroof will always be my children’s favorite feature, along with the USB ports in the back of course. The sunroof really just adds to any vehicle and when traveling in the evening, they love to count the stars and it’s great to keep open on evening drives in the summertime.

The Cargo space in the CX-5 is not bad at all. We found it to be more than what we needed on any typical day. On an average day we have our stroller, one or two bags, typically the baby bag and my camera. When we visited Santa Cruz for the day we had much more with us, and still no problem fitting everything in the trunk. The retractable Cargo Cover attaches to the lift gate which is such a great idea. I personally find this very useful as I bring my camera equipment with me often and it really helps to keep these items viewable, so I do not always have to bring them with me.

Fuel economy is 23/30 MPG City/ Highway, which is about average for this class and didn’t seem bad at all for the week we tested it. We drove to Santa Cruz for the day (about a 2 hour drive) and took it back and forth on the freeway throughout the week.

Overall, we love the 2017 Mazda CX-5. We think it is an amazing crossover for families of four, possibly even 5 depending on your needs. With all of the additions to the 2017 model, there honestly isn’t too much more I think Mazda can do to top this one. We are impressed by the superior interior and the overall style, as well as the added safety features. It’s fun to drive and pretty much has everything I can think of that families would be looking for in a new reliable vehicle.

The MSRP for the 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring starts at $29,395. Make sure to check out all the options as they do start out as low as $24,045.00, being a very affordable option for many families.

If you are looking for a vehicle that caters to smaller families then definitely check out our Mazda3 Review! 



Live, Laugh & Love – Tea Collection Inspires

Tea Collection gather’s their inspiration for children’s clothing from all around the world and back. With new discoveries in foreign places, the Tea designers bring strong, rich, colorful and full of positive energy back with them and pour all of this into their designs.  When I personally look at Tea Clothing, the first thing that comes to mind is adventure, playfulness and a familiarity. There is no mistaking Tea for any other brand, Tea is so unique that it cannot be confused with any other.

I recently have become a Tea ambassador and could not possibly be more thrilled to share with you the passion I have for Tea and how much the company really makes a difference in our world today.  With real global connections and giving back, every single Tea purchase gives back to The Global Fund for Children.  The Global Fund for Children has reached nearly 10 million children worldwide by transforming the lives of children trafficked and forced into child labor, helping children to take back their lives and pursue their dreams.

I am excited to share with you, a few of my personal favorite designs from the Tea Collection, showing their modern and playfulness that is showcased in their designs.

Liam is adventuring in the Little Citizen Tee (https://www.teacollection.com/product/5m22127/t-shirt-for-little-boys-little-citizen-tee.html#heritage blue). The Little Citizens tee is a part of the World Shop, where 100% of the proceeds from this tee will be donated to the GFC foundation (http://www.globalfundforchildren.org/) that is focused on supporting migrants and refugees. We need this now, more than ever. You can read more about Tea Gives Back here (http://blog.teacollection.com/tea-gives-back/)

Tea has inspired us to do something great, get outside! Take time away from the electronics and the possessions in life that take away our focus from the outdoors. The Little Citizen Tee represents freedom, thankfulness, laughter and reminds us of how blessed we truly are at the moment, in the moment.

Olivia’s Birdsville Wrap Dress (currently on sale $21.95)  reminds us of spring time in the country. The print has a hint of sparkle in it that gives it a little shimmer in the sunlight. We absolutely love this print and how it is not only comfortable but goes with my daughter’s personal style.

We typically wear leggings with dresses to avoid any harm to her legs while running through fields. I matched her dress with the Sparkle Stripe Capri Leggings, allowing her to run around more freely and not worry about the wind.

Tea clothing reminds me of how much goodness there is in this world and to not give up hope. When I look back on these memories of my children running, playing and wandering in this world so innocently, I get to reflect on “this” moment and how it felt. The view is breathtaking, knowing that with unity we can come together to encourage good in the world feels incredible.

I hope that when you look at these moments you feel what I feel, a connection that we all have with this world, wherever you may be, that we as individual’s carry the same awareness, sensitivity and compassion. We are capable of much more than we think at times, we all have so much in common.

I am so excited to give away a $50 Tea Gift Certificate to one of our readers. We also are offering a 20% off code you may use on your next Tea Purchase, good for all week! Please use code RAISINGWILD20

Pedirka Tee

We love connecting with likeminded humans. Feel free to message me and let us know what you think.




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A Tea Ambassador is adventurous and exuberant. A traveler at heart. Full of wonder at the beauty of the world around them. She shares our passion for modern design and gorgeous, globally-inspired prints and patterns. She’s passionate, too, about showing kids that other cultures have beauty that deserves to be celebrated. Across the street or across the globe, a Tea Ambassador is always ready to make a new discovery, a new connection, a new friend.






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Save 15% Off Full Day Salt River Rafting Now! [REVIEW]

My name is Idena Garrett and my huband and I did the full day Upper Salt River trip as a bucket list adventure to celebrate my husbands upcoming birthday.We had the privilege of going salt water rafting with Wilderness aware rafting company and it was amazing! I’ve never been rafting before but I always wanted to so I did and I will deffinetly go again!

Upon arriving, the crew at Wilderness Aware was incredibly well organized, immediately getting us started on filling out paperwork/forms and helping us with rental gear we needed. I was very impressed that they provide everything you need for your trip and even things you may have forgotten to bring, you could purchase.

It was beautiful and very clean in the river and at the meeting place. It was my first time but it wasn’t that difficult as long as you follow directions and listen to your guide. The safety lecture was thorough and comprehensive and you’ll know everything that you need to know.   Make sure to pay attention and respect the guides time explaining things.  

Halfway threw the rafting trip we stopped and had lunch. The guides provided a nutricious food and beverages for refueling, and even extra clothing for those who got a bit cold on the trip. This gave us the energy and motivation to go the whole way.  I was honestly expecting hot dogs or pizza because that’s easy to make or buy but instead they made us chicken/steak fajitas. They were delicious! The thing I loved the most about this experience was the staff. The staff was very nice and made sure that everyone was having a good time on and off the water.

My guide was name Matt Brown, he was very knowledgeable and informative. He made the half day rafting trip fun, exciting, and low anxiety for everyone. Matt was very passionate and thorough in explaining our plan for the day and safety precautions.

There were 5 people  (including me and my husband) so it wasn’t full or crowded in the raft like I expected. I just loved my experience and I REALLY recommend this to everyone in fact I’m booking another trip asap. It’s 3 hours away from where I live and it’s deffinetly worth the drive.

They took  pictures of us available on CD for $60.  A tad bit steep, but it’s a nice feature to have if you did not bring a camera.

My husband and I were incredibly impressed by the organization, professionalism, humor, and skill of the staff.  Thank you so much for this memorable experience. Our only regret is only rafting for one day.  Next year we want to do a longer trip!  You can view all of the available trips and book yours here to save 15% Off Full Day Salt River Rafting – March through May season!


15% Off Full Day Salt River Rafting – March through May season


Arizona’s Salt River is absolutely beautiful! The snowpack is promising! Arizona’s Salt River descends from the White Mountains east of Phoenix. You will find yourself tackling world class whitewater rafting – no flat water tubing trips here! This upper stretch of the Salt River offers challenging rapids and the inspiring beauty of truly unique setting.

Take a short and exciting half or full day Salt River rafting trip or experience what it is like to truly get away on a three or four day adventure. A trip on the Salt River in Arizona is wild, isolated with extreme beauty and fantastic rafting.

How fun is this! Join Wilderness Aware Rafting  for the white water rafting trip of a lifetime! Check out the YouTube Video for live action shots!

Get your 15% Off Full Day Salt River Rafting – March through May season HERE!

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Passport to Adventure Disney on Ice Review

Disney On Ice Passport to Adventure

My family and I recently went on the best kind of adventure, a Disney adventure! Mickey and his pals guided us through a magical show full of fun, songs and ice skating fun at the Oracle Arena, in Oakland, CA.

Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

2-1-of-1 Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

The show starts with a familiar song, “Can you feel the Love Tonight”, from the feature film and one of my MOST favorites, The Lion King. I couldn’t of picked a better way to open the show and  story to start off with. The music matches the story perfectly and in this scene we are able to watch Simba grow and dance with his pals Timon and Pumbaa. Rafiki is one of my favorites and played the part well. While I was not allowed to bring in my fancy lens, I was thankfully still able to get decent photos to share.

Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

20-1-of-1 Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

We made a stop under the sea for our next adventure, where we sang familiar songs with Ariel and friends. My children were at awe with the dancing starfish and GIANT inflatable Ursula. My son said, “it’s not scary at all”. He is a little scared of the Ursula at Disneyland, so this was a great surprise.

Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

After intermission was one of our favorites! Peter Pan!!! Flying through the air or as we can say, gliding on the ice, he makes his away from Neverland looking for Wendy. The characters actually did fly, which was pretty spectacular.

Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

Disney on Ice Passport to Adventure

It was quite spectacular to watch Peter Pan and Tink skate together. The skaters worked so perfectly together and Capitan Hooks huge ship and crocodile were amazing. Both of my children’s faces lit up when the ship came in.

18-1-of-1 17-1-of-1 15-1-of-1 Disney On Ice Passport to Adventure

Disney saved the best for last, and that was of course, FROZEN!!!!

disney on ice disney on ice

Disney On Ice

As soon as the snow started we knew what was to come. My kids absolute favorite is Frozen and when the music started, they couldn’t stop watching and signing along. We love the effects of the snow and bubbles throughout the show.

37-1-of-1 disney on ice

Disney on Ice

The show concludes as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and the rest of the disney characters as they finish their journey to various magical Disney worlds that we have all enjoyed in our favorite Disney films. Passport to Adventure was everything we thought it would be. Even my son loved everything and I personally was happy that it was not geared toward little girls with all the princesses. It was exciting to see the other Disney characters involved in the show equally and even my favorite as I grew up.

Disney on Ice

Our entire family enjoyed Passport to Disney and I think it maybe our favorite Disney On Ice show yet. You can check out Disney On Ice Passport To Adventure for future shows and keep an eye out on the blog for up and coming discounts. Disney on Ice is a fun show for the entire family and what I love is its much closer to us than Disneyland. If you are having Disneyland withdraws like I do daily, then Disney On Ice really brings this magic right to you.

*My family received tickets to Disney On Ice in exchanged for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.