2019 Lexus UX 200 F Sport: Wintery Family Fun

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

It’s extremely cold here in the Northeastern part of the country with temperatures hovering around 14 degrees Fahrenheit and strong wind chills. In fact, we just had our first major winter storm which sent 2 days of snow this way. Yet-in-still, I was able to maneuver through the inclement weather efficiently while simultaneously entertaining the kids during a day of sledding at the local park a few miles from the house thanks to Fit Fathers’ 2019 Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 Lexus UX 200 F Sport test vehicle. [Read more…]

2019 INFINITI QX50: Progressive, Luxury Focused Techniques

During a recent visit to the Design District of West Hollywood I was inspired by INFINITI and their set of progressive, technological values as they continue to create excellence in the form of some of our favorite vehicles. The Japanese automotive purveyor is one of the latest, steadfastly growing luxury brands with a focus on modish styling, adaptive engineering and efficient powertrains. Now, with the release of the all-new 2019 QX50 luxuriant crossover, which is built 100% from the ground up, expect continuous elevation in a market segment that witnessed 600,000 units roll off dealer lots in 2017. [Read more…]

2016 Mazda CX-9: Premium Family Focus at Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort

MY16 Mazda CX-9

Experienced by Marvin Bowser

It was a beautiful few days in South Carolina where Mazda structured their Active Lifestyle Drive Program so the press could experience a cadre of their latest products. I first focused on an adventure in the all-new 2016 CX-9 SUV from the beautiful Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort to Sea Pines Resort, in Hilton Head Island, SC. The family and fitness activity of choice for me was the art of kayaking which paired perfectly with the CX-9 and its active and daring traits.

Since I’m a rower I jumped at the kayaking opportunity with euphoric energy on a day commingling hot, sunny weather, clear blue skies and a playful pod of dolphins on their way down the river. The scene was absolutely incredible with the kayaking being timed to ride with the tide in each direction. The trip to the Salty Dog for lunch with a fleet of about 13 boats took a good 45 minutes. However, only three courageous journalists rowed back in roughly 20 minutes. Still a little wet and gritty from the water experience I took the helm of a top-of-the-line CX-9 Signature (available in four trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature) for the drive back to Montage Palmetto Bluff.

Photographs © Tim Zielenbach for Mazda USA Mazda Active Lifestyle driving event. Participants bike and kayak through Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head Island, SC, after test driving from Montage Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, SC.

Specifically speaking, the newfangled Machine Gray hue directed designers to manifest the Japanese SUV as if it appeared to be cut from a single slab of sheet metal. The other paint selections include Soul Red Metallic, Snowflake White Pearl, Sonic Silver Metallic, Jet Black Mica, Deep Crystal Blue Mica and Titanium Flash Mica. Moreover, the vehicle’s sleek curves and restrained use of chrome on the exterior helped achieve the design goal. Each hue has the canny ability to enhance the refined expression of the 3-row, 7-passenger midsized utility vehicle.

Inside, the upscale interior featured Auburn Nappa Leather, real aluminum trim on the doors and dash and stunning rosewood trim supplied by first-rate Japanese guitar-maker Fujigen. Mazda also added sound insulation to the list of upgrades to deliver a quality driving experience. The CX-9 can easily handle soccer mom duties as well as date night responsibilities at the Kennedy Center in D.C. (where I reside) parked next to luxury SUVs costing thousands of dollars more.


I found that the new SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine delivered ample torque and power to merge with highway traffic. The 4-cylinder turbocharged motor puts out 250-horsepower when powered by 93-octane fuel, but can run on regular gas as well. The SUV also sees a 21/27/23 (city/hwy/combined) mpg with i-ACTIV all-wheel drive and the 6-speed automatic transmission and 22 / 28 / 25 (city/hwy/combined) with FWD. The CX-9 manages its size, weight and higher center of gravity well and is fun to drive, particularly in sport mode.

Dinner was at a rustic camp on the banks of a river requiring a 25-minute boat ride from the Montage Palmetto Bluff Resort. Cocktails at the dock, a sunset boat ride, another school of dolphins, delicious Lowcountry cuisine under an open pavilion and lots of Mazda car talk made for a spectacular evening after an exciting day of test driving and outdoors sportsmanship.


After dinner and socializing I returned to my luxurious master room in the newly completed property that included turn down service and chocolates on my pillow. Montage Palmetto Bluff is an amazing vacation setting for couples and families alike and features 200 guest accommodations, six inspired dining locations, the Paintbox Children’s programming, Signature Spa Montage and over 16,000 ft2 of meeting and event spaces. Furthermore, at your disposal is the 18‐hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course as well as tennis, bocce and croquet courts and of course the aforementioned boating. Now you see why the CX-9 fit perfectly into our travel plans while visiting this opulent location. Additionally, the resort features six delightful restaurants, a historic motor yacht, stables, a shooting range, a racquet club, biking, hiking and numerous water sports. Jetsetters or investors can purchase private, leisure residences at Montage Palmetto Bluff starting at 1.4-million dollars.

Photographs © Tim Zielenbach for Mazda USA Mazda Active Lifestyle driving event at Montage Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, SC.

Mazda’s consumer approach makes sense to me. The objective was to deliver a trendy SUV with characteristic design traits, premium technology features, smart engineering and top quality in a line of exciting SUVs at competitive prices. Active and on-the-go families will certainly enjoy a 2016 CX-9 as their primary vehicle of choice. Built with the US market in mind, the second generation CX-9 went on sale back in May to praise and heightened fanfare and starts at $31,520. Yes, driving does matter. 2016_mazda_cx-9_09

2015 Toyota Highlander: Southern Comfort

2015 Toyota Highlander

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

When I recently visited family and friends in Charlotte, NC I experienced nothing but southern hospitality from various aspects of the spectrum including my test ride. I felt like an urban cowboy as I rolled through high land in Toyota’s latest AWD SUV. Upon arrival and vehicle pickup my host set the seats to “cool” since it was blazing hot that day, inputted my next destination in the intuitive 8” navigational system and let me ride out in style.

It was a pitch perfect day for cruising since the weather met my expectations. Locals were out riding their mountain bikes and jogging, lunches were served outside on patios and the hustle and bustle of business was taking place at a rapid pace. Charlotte is becoming trendier by the day and the new Highlander fit right in. I must say the Japanese auto brand has become keen on offering Lexus-like amenities in their expansive vehicle lineup. With seating for up to 7 passengers, AWD (Snow Mode), Hill-Start, Downhill Assist Control, a hitch, and cargo cross bars hovering over the one-touch open/close and tilting Moonroof with sunshades, the Japanese SUV offers niceties for active lifestylers such as myself! [Read more…]