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2018 Mazda CX-9 AWD Review

We are sharing one of our favorite family friendly vehicles, the 2018 Mazda CX-9, in the, oh so lovely Soul Red! We have reviewed several family friendly vehicles in the Mazda line and the 2018 CX-9 is by far our favorite!

The stunning 2018 CX-9 is a beautiful car, it really is. The silver chrome around the windows and roof, LED lighting around the review mirror and the leather interior, it’s just that fancy.

The interior is REAL leather, not leatherette, it’s the real deal you guys. It gives the vehicle such a polished luxurious look. The color combination is beautiful. All power seats and they are extremely comfortable. To be honest, the entire design of the CX-9 makes you feel like you are in a very high end vehicle.

Tilt and telescoping steering wheel is always an appreciate feature in my opinion being a shorter person. Mazda always jazzes things and adds that extra bit of detail that really reflects in the overall look and quality. Steering wheel is heated and offers the ergonomic design.

The vehicle gets 28MPG on the highway and 22MPG in the city, and I found this to be pretty true when we tested if for a week. It’s also all wheel drive which is the only way I would go when purchasing an SUV. When purchasing a family friendly vehicle you want something that you can travel in and not have to worry about. We visit the snow often and take many family trips, so this is a must.


The trunk is very roomy and the back seats have a 40/60 split with the third row seating. We really wouldn’t use the third row unless we had another person with us, so having the extra trunk space for us was very helpful.

One of our favorite safety feature is the sensors on the front of the vehicle. It’s hard to notice, but that small circle you see above next to my shadow is in fact one of the sensors. As you approach an object, the car will notify you that you are getting close, which is great for those short people like me that already have a hard time gauging distance when parking.

I also liked the placement of the rearview mirror, which offers more visibility out the window. These also have blind spot monitoring which is always appreciated. As parents we tend to naturally deal with many distractions while having a car full of kiddos. I am always nervous when merging lanes, on the off chance that I will not see a car in my blind spot. This really eases that worry and I wish all cars came equipped with this feature.

Wrap around LED taillights are great for driving at night, seriously looks so sporty!

The 2nd row seating gives you a ton of space, especially if the 3rd row if folded down. The seats also recline, which is pretty awesome. Just pull that lever you see on the side and you can recline the seats as well for an even more comfortable ride. My children are the main riders in the back seat, but even myself at 5’1 had more than enough room and did not feel over crowded.

Active driving display shows speed, turn by turn navigation settings.

The 8inch screen offers back up camera, Mazda Connect has the navigation settings, communication and phone settings. The commander switch is perfect for controlling the navigation, music or phone settings while driving. It does not have Apple Car Play (bummer) but that honestly isn’t a deal breaker with everything else Mazda has added.

Climate control does an amazing job of controlling the temperature in the front and rear of the vehicle.

The Rear air vents and heated seats were pretty awesome. The back seats even recline a bit if you need a little more room. The backseat also has the USB ports located under the center arm rest, just as the CX-5 did as well.

I also found it very easy to install my children’s car seats as well in the 2018 Mazda CX-9, it literally took seconds, while in some cars I can spend up to 15minutes trying to just get the latches in.

The 3rd row is accessible from the second row by folding the seat down and sliding forward. This is good because it creates a pretty large opening for an adult to climb in the 3rd row if needed. The head rest on the 3rd row also folds all the way down which was pretty awesome. In the 3rd row you won’t get a ton of leg room for adults for children would be perfectly fine with more than enough room. The 3rd row doesn’t have a switch to turn your light on, so an adult has to turn this on from the front, but you do have cup holders and additional rear speakers as well.

NEW Britax Endeavours Infant car seat

A few things we found that we were not a huge fan of with the 3rd row is that there is no way to access the 3rd row if you have two car seats, one on each passenger side. You are not able to move the seat with a car seat attached, so technically the only way to access the 3rd row in this situation, would be through the trunk area. Don’t get me wrong, my children love climbing and I’m sure would not have a problem with this, but that is something you would want to keep in mind.

Also, we did not find any latches for car seats in the 3rd row. This can cause a problem if you are planning to put small children in the back. For the most part I think we would use children not in car seats as it is not very convenient to access a child in a car seat anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind.

This vehicle is very engaging and feels flawless when driving. Honestly, I feel like I am driving a much more expensive car, just by the feel of the 2018 CX-9 alone. Panoramic Sunroof would be awesome of course, and an easier way to access the 3rd row seating if in fact you have more than one car seat in the second row. Besides those few things, I am impressed and honestly ,I would purchase this family ride in a heartbeat!

Some of my favorite features are:

-Keyless Start

-Sensors on vehicle

-Blind Spot detection

-USB ports in the rear seating area

Kids favorite features:


-Boss Speakers

-3rd row seating

The MSRP for the 2018 Grand Touring All Wheel Drive as shown is $43,905. You guys, this isn’t bad at ALL! I think the price point is more than fair and a bargain for everything the Mazda CX-9 comes with. To check out more, you can visit Mazda’s site here!






Britax Endeavours Infant Car Seat

As a parent of three little ones, the most important feature we look for in a car seat for our children is safety. Britax has always designed the safest car seats on the market and have been a huge hit in our home. I honestly cannot say enough amazing things about Britax. Today we received Britax newest infant car seat, Endeavours! You guys, this infant car seat brings a whole new level of awesomeness and comfort for parents.

The Endeavours infant car seat is designed for safety and mobility,giving all parents a peace of mind, especially when traveling, which we all know can be difficult with little ones. Endeavours is a great option for families that travel a lot and families that are looking for safe options for quickly getting infants in and out of the car, including taxis and ride share services. Ride share options such as Lyft and Uber have really been gaining popularity over the last few years. There are so many benefits to ride sharing, especially for our environment.

Installing a car seat has never been easier than with Endeavours. Not only does this infant car seat offer the standard SafeCenter Latch that you see in most car seats that use a base, it ALSO offers the The European Belt Guide, which provides a perfect installation option when installing without the base. Very convenient for those on the go, traveling or even just to know that if there was an emergency, you have options to get up and go quick.

The Endeavours infant car seat is the ONLY “rear facing only” seat in the market that offers the extra tall anti-rebound bar made out of steel, the easy-to-remove ARB protective cover which provides comfort for the child and convenience to the parent, and is proudly engineered, tested and made in the USA with global components for top safety and quality.

European Belt Guide

Because we feel that every parent needs to see the results for themselves, we have created a video with step by stop instillation guides as well as our top favorite features of the new Endeavours Infant Car Seat. Check it out!!!

Endeavours retails at $299 and can be purchased here.



**I have partnered with Britax for this paid program. All thoughts and opinions in this article are 100% my own


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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!