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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! 



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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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tile Slim { GIVEAWAY}


Tile Slim is a Bluetooth tracker that can be attached to anything. Whether it be your phone (my biggest problem), wallet/purse, laptop, baby bag, literally anything can be found with the Tile Slim (Adhesives sold separately).

The Tile Slim is as thin as two credit cards and easily slides into your wallet, purse or pocket, no problem.

Use your smartphone to make your Tile Slim ring when it’s nearby but out of sight. This is the FREE Tile app that can be downloaded after you receive your Tile. The Map on the Tile app will show you where your Tile is at all times.

Can’t find your phone? Simply double press the button on your Tile Slim to make your phone ring – even on silent! The easy-to-use, free Tile app remembers the last time and place it saw your Tile, so if you left it somewhere, you’ll always know where to look. It even allows you to choose your own ringtone and customize it. 

We own several Tile Slim’s and I mostly use mine for my cell phone and purse. You can get creative with Tile, I have kept mine in my car to find it after the baseball game we attended and I even have put it in my son’s pocket when we went to Disneyland last time just in case he happened to wander off. The app allows you to track the tile wherever you are and so there are so many ways it can be used.

There is even a Tile Community! If your Tile isn’t where you left it, you can anonymously enlist the help of the Tile community in your search. It will notify you as soon as someone with the Tile app goes near your lost item. Pretty awesome! You can purchase one Tile Slim for $25 and a 4 pack for $70 if you want to share! If you do not win our giveaway you can purchase your own Tile Slim here


a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Tile sent me the Tile Slim for review & giveaway. All thoughts are 100% my own

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2016 Mazda CX-9 | Family Review

My family of 5 recently got our hands on the 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature for the week, a 7-passenger midsize crossover SUV that we are pretty excited about! We really enjoyed this family friendly vehicle and everything that it has to offer. The MSRP for this vehicle comes to $45,215, without any options, because everything comes standard at this price point.


At first, look we were extremely impressed by the exterior styling and interior design of the 2016 Mazda CX-9 and is definitely in my top favorite vehicles we have tested out. We reviewed the vehicle in Machine Gray and we really enjoy the modern design and upscale appearance it has for a family friendly vehicle. The powered Moonroof is probably one of our favorite features that can be seen at first glance.



The slick Auburn-colored premium Nappa leather trim has a very luxurious clean look to it and is soft to the touch. You can feel the quality difference in this vehicle and it really stands out throughout the entire SUV. While Mazda does not offer heated steering wheel option with the CX-9, one of my favorite features, they do offer heated front seats which are a must when you have leather seats on a wintery cold day.

The power window, power door locks, and power mirror controls are located right where you would expect them to be. The second row has built in window sunshades which we used the entire time we had the vehicle. Automatic lights and wipers come automatic with the Signature as well as large cup holders, USB’s and sliding sun visors to name a few.

Infotainment System

The Mazda Connect definitely takes a little getting used to. It is much different than the navigation in our current vehicle. The touch screen display is only accessible when the vehicle is not moving, there is not currently an option to choose passenger so that you can make adjustments once on the road. This was probably the only aspect of the vehicle that I was not a fan of. I do understand Mazda wants to be safe and to make sure there are no distractions when driving.

For the most part, I did use the center Commander knob to navigate through the screen which I found very useful. The screen is a bit of a distance from the driver’s seat and I do not have very long arms. I really did like having this option and that it was very “mom” friendly. I mean, we already have enough distractions driving with kiddos, we really do not need any others. I also noticed there was not an option for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which was kind of a bummer.

Space & Storage

The Mazda CX-9 does have space with the 3rd-row seat to accommodate up to 7 passengers. This is great if you have that many people riding with you, the only problem you may run into is the cargo space you will have to give up in return. With that many people in the vehicle, I would assume that you do need storage room for your belongings. I personally think the 2016 CX-9 is best for families of 5 at max so that you can still utilize the third-row seating for cargo space. You would still have room to use the third row if you are going to have visitors, family or even your children’s friends for an afternoon, I just do not see it being a great fit for a long term family of 7.

BubbleBum seats are our go to for convenient travel boosters!

Mazda 2016 CX-9 passed the Costco test!

Besides the third row seating, the Mazda CX-9 is very spacious. I would expect, though as in most vehicles that the third row to be much smaller than the first and second. While we did test out the third row with a total of 7 passengers at one point, I did find it difficult to maneuver the seats so that the kids could get to the back row. It was much easier for the kids to crawl through the back of the vehicle to the third-row vs, moving car seats around in the second row so that we could fold down the seats. This, however, may not be an issue for smaller families, we just noticed that since we had two car seats on each of the passenger sides in the second row, it is not easy to recline the seats to reach the third row.

A wonderful feature the second row does have besides being very spacious is the additional cup holders that also have USB charging ports in the cubby. Perfect for long trips when your children bring their video games and iPads.

Safety & Visibility

Some of Mazda’s driving assistance technology’s are Large side mirrors, camera, and a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert. I found all of these to be very helpful when I was driving. Safety is the most important and especially when you are driving with children most of the time. The front seat did not adjust as high as I would have liked it being that I am on the shorter side, 5’1. So, having the reversing camera and blind spot warning was very useful to me and something I appreciated. If you are not familiar with the blind spot warning system, this is in many newer vehicles and what it does is lights up the review mirror when a vehicle is in your blind spot. I know personally that being a parent means endless distractions and so even some of the smallest safety features can be so very helpful when driving.

Fuel Economy

The Mazda CX-9 Signature has an average of 23 mpg. The annual fuel cost is estimated at $1950 and the city average is 21 mpg with 27 mpg being the average for a highway. I have heard of some owners complain about the fuel economy on the CX-9 but I am currently used to getting even less on my current family vehicle, so I expected this range. We did use the car for a full week and still had a little under a quarter tank left when we returned the vehicle, which I didn’t think was too bad.

Driving The CX-9

As far as being behind the wheel of the CX-9, I absolutely love how effortlessly it steers. The steering wheel is very comfortable with a nice grip and I was impressed with how clearly and smooth the vehicle moved when coming in contact with uneven pavements and old roads. The suspension definitely sailed smoothly over any bumps in the road and never at anytime veered away from the destination. The pickup is outstanding when merging onto the freeway and the suspension did a wonderful job maintaining a comfortable ride the entire time. Let me end by saying that the cabin is SO quiet, I was so amazed by how quiet the vehicle actually was once my son fell asleep and I could really take notice.

Final Impressions

Overall the 2016 Mazda CX-9 is an impressive family friendly vehicle. Once you see for yourself how spacious, quiet and powerful the vehicle is I am sure you will fall in love like I did. Mazda has really built a good SUV with many family friendly upgrades that are very appealing to all.


Mazda also provided use with a $25 gift card to donate to a charity of our choice, apart of Mazda’s Drive for good campaign. We were so excited to donate to a local charity Heart of A Hero. 


Check out the 2016 Mazda CX-9 in action!