Category Archives: Lifestyle

SAMURAI RIDES: THE 2017 MAZDA CX 3 – BIRTHDAY EDITION

 SAMURAI RIDES: THE 2017 MAZDA CX 3 – BIRTHDAY EDITION

#SamuraiRides #DriveMazda

After a short hiatus for the heart of the winter season, Samurai Rides is getting ready to welcome in warmer days. Before we hit the official start of Spring those good folks at Mazda sent me a little gift. Seeking to make my travel a bit more comfortable, the Mazda CX 3 Grand Touring was dropped off for me to enjoy my birthday week in style. Sitting at the top of the subcompact division you know the quality that Mazda delivers. When I saw the Dynamic Blue of this ride, my favorite color, I was in heaven, but enough chatter let’s dive into another edition of Samurai Rides.

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First off I can imagine what you are thinking? How on earth is he really reviewing a sub compact vehicle? Isn’t he tall? Yes, it’s well documented that I’m rather over sized but that is beauty of the CX -3. Even for someone of my height Mazda’s latest CX Compact car didn’t restrict my movement, comfort or enjoyment what so ever. I’ll admit I had to lean that driver’s seat back so heaven help who ever attempts to sit behind me. Outside of that it was all good. This is the 2nd year for the CX-3 after its’ initial introduction into the Mazda line up last year. It’s essentially a replacement for the Mazda 2 which is no longer available in the U.S.

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Max & Mazda. Matching Blue as we hit the road.

Truthfully, after a solid debut Mazda is just tweaking a few things for 2017. They have made a few features available in lower trims besides the Grand Touring edition. You can enjoy the redesigned 18 inch wheels at the mid level trim now as well as the  i-Activsense package which offers adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, automated emergency braking, and more. Mazda shaved off nearly $800 to bring that add-on option pack just under $1200.

Another thing I will say is that the CX-3 Is not the ride to get if you’re planning on lugging around a lot of stuff. There’s modest trunk space here. You should be ok with your weekly personal groceries but massive shopping trips will have you putting bags in the rear seating space.

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Design wise Mazda remains the master of giving the look of cars costing more than they do. Surprisingly luxurious would be a great way to describe the sleek appearance of the CX-3.

This ride looks like a mini SUV but it handles like a car smoothly navigating the road. You’re getting 146 horses out of the 2 liter 4 cylinder engine. That’s getting you from 0 – 60 in 8 secs. Not bad at all. It definitely did the trick as I celebrated my birthday around New York City. In this case the smaller ride made parking that much easier.

Overall, my streak of good times with Mazda cars continues. From the seamless on road handling, to safety features, to the always simple entertainment media interface, Mazda’s consistent delivery of quality shines through with their 2nd run of the CX-3. In all honesty I really only see competition coming from within their own brand. What I mean is that the price of the Grand Touring starts around $27K at which point you may be tempted to hop up to the CX 5 for a solid increase in power and size. So, aside from some possible in-fighting, Mazda is looking pretty strong to close out the first quarter of the new year. Take a look below at a few images and swing by Mazda USA for even more CX-3 info.

Stay Tuned Samurai Rides has something special on deck to usher in the Spring.

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Desktop Activity Isn’t As Dead As Experts Say

Desktop Activity Isn’t As Dead As Experts Say

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Mobile, Mobile, Mobile…..that’s the future wave. Smartphones are the growing platform of choice for everything digital and while the world is engaged in the screens carried in their back pockets, what has become of the desktop? Well, if you let the many digital experts tell it, stationary computers have one foot in the grave already and are preparing for a swan dive. Fortunately for me and many others like me the demise of the desktop has been greatly exaggerated.

Let’s look at just what the real current status of the desktop computer is in the social media area.

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According to FlurryMobile, 90 percent of mobile user time is spent in apps. Consumers are often using their phones with entertainment and communication intent — calling, texting, checking email, engaging on social media, watching videos, listening to music, getting directions, checking store hours and playing games such as Pokémon Go. The chart above supports this view the personal time is more suited for mobile device usage vs the general office/work hours of the day. But what about the actions that are taking place o these devices?

Where the device decisions get a little more complex is during the process of detailed transactions. Depending on what you’re doing and how major a transaction it is, desktop usage offers a several advantages in efficiency over smartphones. See the following excerpt from Search Engine Land.

Most consumer journeys involve cross-device usage; however, the device used for the final transaction is often determined by the type of transaction and the amount of data needed to complete the transaction.

An example of this type of deeply considered journey can seen in the financial services sector, when a consumer opens a retirement account and makes initial investments. It’s a complex decision with a high cost of failure, and the average consumer will research the process across multiple devices; however, the final transaction of creating the account requires entering a significant amount of data. For that reason, this step is more convenient to complete on a desktop or tablet then on a smartphone.

On the other hand, when the purchase is simple and straightforward without a high cost of failure, like booking a hotel room due to a flight cancellation, I’m more likely to book my hotel stay on my smartphone as I’m exiting the terminal instead of opening my laptop to complete the transaction. And in e-commerce scenarios, the ease of completing the transaction through a one-click purchase option can help increase mobile conversions.

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Once again we see that while usage and time spent is trending towards mobile access, there is a large portion of online active that is taking place almost exclusively on desktops.

[M]arketers always overestimate the appeal of new things and underestimate the power of traditional consumer behavior.
Bob Hoffman, The Ad Contrarian

In the end it would appear that the desktop is not going anywhere. Desktop functionality has become much more direct and focused. Folks are browsing, entertaining and communicating as they move about. Yet they are still sitting down for the bigger decisions and transactions. Keep this in need with your own business. Do you fall into any of those desktop heavy industries? Remember that it will always pay off to have a balance in your professional positioning. One that includes both stationary and mobile accessibility.

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SAMURAI RIDES: BACK ON THE ROAD WITH THE NEW 2017 MAZDA 3

SAMURAI RIDES: BACK ON THE ROAD WITH THE NEW 2017 MAZDA 3

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I was excited to see my first Mazda of the new year. The Mazda 3 rolls in with its 2017 edition in a gorgeous Cherry Red and I’m ready to roll out. I had a number of errands to handle in the tri state area so I was putting in those miles on the I-95. Highly enjoyable miles as Mazda never fails to provide me an excellent driving experience. Another edition of Samurai Rides is on deck!!!

After 2-3 years of auto reviews, I have to say that consistency is the word that comes to mind when I think of Mazda. Inside and out the attention to detail is steady across the brand and all its models. Focusing in on the Mazda 3 this time around and things are still as solid as ever. With this being my third spin in the 3 I can confirm that Mazda is definitely subscribing to an approach of not trying to reinvent the wheel. The short list of updates for the 2017 model echo those of the Mazda 6.

On the outside you get a new grill and headlight design. The rear bump is modified slightly as well. On the higher trims your 18 inch wheels have been tweaked a bit. The 16 inch standards wheel are unchanged from 2016 though. Hop inside and you get a few more revisions.

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The center console gets some additional space as Mazda switches up from a manual to an electric parking brake. Your flip-up screen is full color now as well. For a brand that boasts some of the best interior designs for under $30K you’ll get an upgrade in fabric and trim styles this year.

Just like the Mazda 6 the biggest driving update the G-Vectoring Control system to tighten up the steering a bit. The 3 hugs those curves just as well as the 6 does so this new GVC technology is a great move for a brand that has already locked itself into a very respected spot in the auto industry.

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Even covered in snow Mazda shines brillantly.

The 2017 Mazda 3 got a real good run with me as the weather dished out sun, rain, ice and snow and at no point did the 3 suffer in performance. In addition to that, I put that new heated steering wheel feature to work with the heated seats. Cold was not allowed in this ride.

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I’ve had nothing but glowing sentiments towards Mazda from day 1. The new 2017 Mazda 3 strongly continues that trend delivering a great combination of grace, style, innovation and power. If you’re looking for a great ride in a smaller package this is definitely the car for you. See more of the Mazda 3 here!

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Notification Overload – So Much Streaming So Little Reason

Notification Overload – So Much Streaming So Little Reason

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2016 will likely be remembered as the year that streaming exploded. What started with  Meerkat and Periscope evolved to Facebook Live and Instagram Stories updating their platforms to try to capture the lightning in a bottle of Snapchat. In the progress, we’ve enabled an entire generation to share their world with the world without filter. So, as my notification log fills up with messages about you, you and you “going live” I can’t help but wonder if it’s really a good thing?

Must we go live via streaming to show that we are actually living? This is a question I ask myself regularly as live video stream notifications light up my screen. I’m not simply curious about why everyone’s doing it but also why now? Video isn’t new. Vlogging is the organic heart of Youtube. Before every major media brand got it’s on channels it was person people content that ruled. When Periscope hit from the outside you’d think everyone was using it and the new wave had arrived. Truth be told, only a small % of people actually streamed on Periscope. The majority of people connected to watch others. Periscope links via Twitter so the “sign up” was easy. This is the point that caught my attention and it’s what I think is really at the heart of this “going live” movement.

People that really have invested valuable in their message were saying it before and they got better as the technology improved. They were on Youtube, Blogger, Vimeo, etc……Today, people stream not because they have important things to say or share but because it’s easy. It’s a feature now plugged into spaces they were already active in. You can think of this as the “I do it because I can” crowd. People want the SnapChat effect without having to build a new audience on SnapChat. Don’t get me wrong because there are many who are putting streaming technology to good use and are delivering real information content. You just have to weed it out via the new wave of look-at-me-do-nothing material. Streaming in many ways is just amateur hour cable television. How many shows do you have to cycle through to find the one that makes it worth your time?

Every time something crazy happens to a person folk say, “Man my life needs its own show.” No, it really doesn’t you need to be happy that something worse didn’t happen and try not to end up in that position again. We all don’t need shows about our lives. Like all things in this social media based world the initial hype will fade as the truly committed users continue to push through the masses with their messages.

I my humble view, existence should be measured by how you live life not by how many folks see yours.

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Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

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In 2006 Hip Hop was a very interesting place. While powerhouse names like Eminem, Jay-Z and Kanye West were still dominate, the mainstream is fully in the midst of a revolution led by the new music makers of the south. Lil Jon’s Crunk movement was turning out ultra energized club hit after hit. Atlanta’s Trap had invaded the scene as artists like T.I, Jeezy and Gucci Mane were just as well known in a city like New York as Jadakiss or Camron. And let’s not forget Ludacris and his DTP camp who would occupy multiple chart slots at a time. The Hip Hop landscape was changing and it was not going unnoticed by one of Hip Hop’s greats. In the view of Nasir Jones, he would tell you “Hip Hop is Dead.” I remember my personal excitement awaiting that release of this album. My Hip Hop taste is very NY for all the good, bad ad ugly of it. Nas’ attempt to being things back to the essence was a rallying cry for many even if it was short lived.

10 years since it’s scene shaking release Nas looks back on the Hip Hop Is Dead album that many rallied behind while even more rallied against. Unintended regional tensions resulted from Nas’ claim that the core elements of Hip Hop, music, wordplay, storytelling and lyricism had been given up for childish, hooks and low grade concepts. Linking up with Google Play and Mass Appeal, Nas delivers a 4 part digital documentary on the this controversial album.

“In retrospect, I missed the mark by miles,” he admits. “I didn’t want to pick people apart. I felt like that was for a younger artist to do. I thought the title was enough — to say it’s dead it was to say, ‘I don’t know where to begin, I don’t know where to start.’ But at least I’ll name it this and we’ll see what goes from there.”

Hit the jump to view the other 3 installments of the doc. Watch as Nas speaks on everything from the album title, his long anticipated collaboration with Jay-Z, to his current view of the culture and his present role in it.

Continue reading Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

2016 The Year That Changed It All

2016 The Year That Changed It All

Digital Daddy, Social Media Samurai
Is this the end of the Social Media Samurai

Look around. Admittedly things have been a little quieter around here than many of you may be used to. The year 2016 was a monster for many people for a lot of reasons. While the theme of high-profile death has dominated the conversation recently, it’s been a focus on gain and new life that has been the signature of my year. From self-centered to selfless, my life went from 0 -100 with the May 27th arrival of my son, Maximus Xaiver Francis. Nothing was the same since.

Max’s birth came with me relocating to Philadelphia and a drastic shift in how I operated. My networks were changed, my access to certain levels of business were reduced and overall it was if I had just hit a mega reset button on my life. I’ve never been a person that took things and people for granted but the new perspective of my situation immediately made me see my daily New York routine in a different light. The small things that brought balance to my life that were no longer available weighed heavy on me for much of my time away from NY.

What really countered that feeling of displacement was a the beauty and happiness that washes over me everything I saw the innocent smile of my baby boy. Knowing nothing of the insane world around him, he only asks for love and protection. All the cliches’ are true regarding how a child makes you feel and how it changes you. As much as continue to juggle thoughts and feelings around my new status quo, I’ve never once looked at Max with anything but love and pride.

2016 forced me to change. It forced me to prove myself in ways I never thought. Those tests are still ongoing but I feel a renewed power and strength within me for what is to come on many levels. Social Media Samurai is not going anywhere. As I adapt to my new reality the brand will adapt as well. Who I am and what I am about will be revealed more as I expand SMS into new territory. With the growth of my own Tribe I will re-emerge stronger with a determination to get things done no matter what.

The previous 366 days at times knocked me down. There were many moments of doubt and frustration regarding all important aspects of my life, but as the saying goes if you are brought to it then you can make it through it. I’m here and ready to make 2017 a banner year for me and my loved ones. I’m not who I once was yet I’m still me. I’m better. For my son I will never stop evolving.

2017, it’s nice to finally meet you.

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SAMURAI RIDES: HAPPY HOLIDAYS W/ THE 2017 MAZDA 6

SAMURAI RIDES: HAPPY HOLIDAYS W/ THE 2017 MAZDA 6

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It’s the most wonderful time of year!! Or it’s the perfect opportunity to get your mind off the crazy happenings in the world. Either way welcome to the holidays. Your Social Media Samurai is riding clean into Thanksgiving and Christmas with new 2017 Mazda 6 Grand touring!!

Mazda has won a very solid spot with me over the past couple years. They’re cranked out a number of great rides offering a little something for everyone. You last caught me driving the gorgeous Mazda CX -9 down in Atlanta for my Nomadness Tribe Reunion weekend. This time we’re turning up the family vibes and cutting down the scale of things. With Thanksgiving dinner seeing about a dozen people followed by some QT with my son Max and my parents, I didn’t need as big a vehicle as the CX-9. My northeast antics were ideal for the new Mazda 6. When a quality 4 door sedan can still drive you that sports car feel you’re in for a good time.

More at MazdaUSA.com
More at MazdaUSA.com

Naturally the first thing you have to ask yourself is whats new about that 2017 Mazda 6 from last years model? If you left it up to a simple eye test you might say not too much. Although with the sleek design of the 6 that’s not a bad thing.  You do get new headlight to front grille trim lighting. It’s a mean look at night but most of the 2017 changes took place inside the ride. You’ll notice the steering well is now the same design as the CX-9 and includes heating functions for those chilly winter nights. The driver info display screen and the flip-up dash design both have been upgraded to color screens from their preciously unimpressive black and white scheme. The real killer in appearance is when you step up to the Grand Tour Premium package. You get the choice of black or almond-colored nappa leather seats with titanium-gray piping and stitching! Not to mention the extra black trimming. Mazda never hands back on luxury interior design options.

As great as that is, now having my son in the ride with me, safety is as high on the priority scale as ever. I raved about the Mazda 6 safety features in my 2016 review. This time around the i-Activsense powered anti-collision sensors are able to identify pedestrians and  smaller moving objects in addition to other vehicles. The auto brake emergency features now is active in a 9mph to 99mph range. That’s up 9mph on the high-end. Mazda has also tightened up steering reactions on corner with their G-Vectoring control system. I definitely felt it and with these other improvements Mazda driver can continue to feel safe on the road.

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Yes, yes all this sounds great but nothing beats that hands on, real road riding. Smooth handling on the 95 north as I head from Philadelphia on Thanksgiving eve set the pace for me. During a very active traffic period the Mazda 6 had me feeling I was in a different place. Heated seats for the backed up Black Friday traffic kept me in comfort. Christmas tunes played on XM radio, setting the holiday mood on BOSE speakers. I had no complaints.

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Max and I had a little photo shoot and the Mazda 6 let Max nap on the way to the studio and back which made things that much easier for me.

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The Holidays get stressful for many people. Crowds, lines and traffic statistically send the road rage incidents up but while some folks lose their minds, I’m moving about with 100% peace of mind in the Mazda 6. Mazda has found a great balance between power, style and luxury. What’s more is that they have done so in pretty affordable fashion. You can hop over to the Mazda website for an even deeper look into the 6. I’m sure you’ll see something you like.

**Check Out My Previous Auto Reviews**

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A Social Media Assist For Cyber Monday

A Social Media Assist For Cyber Monday

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It’s that time of year when the holiday shopping season officially opens up! After all the Thanksgiving food has settled and the left overs are put away you turn your attention to the mega savings in your favorite store on and offline. This is also an important time for entrepreneurs. Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are made for those whose brands operate heavily via digital spaces. That is where I come in. Are you fully maximizing your online activity? How is your engagement with your followers? There are so many thing people often overlook that can make so much difference in the business they generate. Starting today, Cyber Monday and running until Christmas, I’ve cut my most popular service the Social Media Audit by 33% so for $100 I will dive into your online operations to lay out plans and real attainable goals for you and your business. You won’t be disappointed.

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Management & Consultation

The Social Media Samurai is always ready to help you. Are you looking for guidance with your digital strategy? Perhaps you need someone to speak to your organization about navigating social media in today’s ever-changing business environment? I can provide that and more. I’ve cut my audit service down for the holidays so it’s even easier to get started on the road to more success.

Contact me via contact@thesocialmediasamurai.com

At the very least make sure you stay connected with me across these Internets.

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The Sky Fell And We’re Still Here – Election 2016 1 Week Later

The Sky Fell And We’re Still Here [Election 2016 1 Week Later]

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It’s never been my way to rush to comment The bigger the issue the more time I give it so I can digest and really figure out what I’m feeling. Last week most of us were either waking up to news of the elections results or we were waking up wondering if what we witnessed election night was a dream. Nope, I wish I could say it was but 11/8/2016 saw the total shattering of the U.S political system as we know it when majority electoral votes won Donald Trump the U.S Presidency. There are an endless number of fingers to point if the blame game is your thing, but at this point I just want to look at us in terms of what next and what can we do with the cards we’ve been dealt, The rules of the game have been forever changed so it’s time to adjust.

Everyone’s lives are different. How folks exist day-to-day varies so individually there is self assessment of resources, plans and goals that need to be fine tuned. The new players in town aren’t here for us. It’s arguable that most of the old players weren’t here for us either. Making moves outside of the norm is becoming more essential with every passing day. Being able to do more with less has always been a key survival key and even those in steady financial standing should understand that stretching a dollar is good business in any case. We don’t fully know what Trump has in store for us but even now rumors build of tax hits and aid cuts to single mothers and lower-income families. Sharpen your skills and be open to earning opportunities outside the usual channels. Every dollar counts.

While getting the flow of funds in order there are other more immediate results from this election that are already in motion within our society. Trump’s win has put the super charged battery in the back of blatant, no punches pulled ignorance and racism. To say that people have been emboldened would be an understatement. There is already an increase of hate crimes, bullying and assaults and we’d be fooling ourselves to think it’ll get better anytime soon. With that being said I think there may just be an opportunity here for us. It’s been proven that the system is not for us. It never has been so in these times if ever it was essential for true unity and community building it’s now. Be your brother’s keeper, look out for the neighbor, step up when the ignorant and wicked make their presence felt in our space. One of the biggest things about America is that the basic level of comfort so many of us have makes us apathetic and slow to act when it’s most needed.  I honestly think this is the space where we can do the most good in the quickest amount of time. Showing that we will not be bullied, disrespected or violated is essential to the time we’re entering.

I’ve watched many people express their feelings about this election cycle. From the moment of Barack Obama’s 1st election win, Republican forces set on a path of obstruction and racially charged disrespect that America has never seen launched at a President. Unbeknownst to them they were indirectly creating the perfect storm that would eventually destroy their own party. Yet the truth is the neither party has ever really been for us. They pander to us for votes when needed then we sit and watch the same status quo play out. This is a wake up call across the board to the entire system.

If the people are ever going to be heard and felt it will be now as the forces of intolerance and hate mount up to ride over all those that don’t fit the twisted vision they have for this world. What makes this all the more concerning is that Trump truly does not know the role he was stumbled into. It’s one thing to be knowledgeable with negative intentions but to be ignorant on top of that creates the most dangerous of situations.

Disturbing times are here and please understand that we need to be there for each other. There’s no other way that this ends well for us. No matter what Trump attempts I truly believe a united people can overcome. Do we have true unity within us? Only time will time.

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In the mean time, while society is doing what it can, I have my young son to bring up and protect. He is priority 1, 2 & 3 regardless of what administration is in charge. It’s never a dull moment out here but we’re ready for it.

 

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SAMURAI RIDES: DADDY TIME W/ MAX & THE 2017 HYUNDAI SANTA FE LIMITED

SAMURAI RIDES: DADDY TIME W/ MAX & THE 2017 HYUNDAI SANTA FE LIMITED

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I’m always excited to get a look into the newest wheels that are coming to the people. Along with that, being able to share various aspects of my world is great. Now as I navigate the roads of Fatherhood, it makes my #SamurauRide features that much more special when I can share my son in the story. #DigitalDaddy duties got some help this time around from the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited. Keeping in the realm of crossover SUVs check out this latest from Hyundai!

A photo posted by nightfall914 (@nightfall914) on

The 2015 Santa Fe Sport was my Christmas shopping companion 2 years ago and made a great impression on me. Now getting behind the wheel of the 2017 Limited Edition it felt very familiar and keeps all the features I’ve come to expect from Hyundai’s SUV/Crossover series of vehicles. The Santa Fe is the largest ride within the series. Yet, to be honest with you, in terms of space the Tuscon is equally spacious. The Sante Fe Limited does add a few upgraded elements that really set it apart that I’ll get into shortly.

After a busy week catching up with family and handling major business in New York I returned to Philadelphia to see my son. October is here and while it is officially the Fall season, nature still appears to have a few good weather days left in her. What this means is a great opportunity to hit the city and enjoy some Daddy/Son time.

The level of trust needed in a vehicle and the attention to detail skyrockets once you’re joined by your child. Hyundai’s 2017 Santa Fe is incredibly roomy  for myself as the driver and Max with his car seat. The seat belts and fasteners held him in very firm as we hit the road. Also, the Limited edition Sante Fe gives you 2nd row captain chairs vs your standard passenger bench. With this upgrade Max’s car seat locks that much more firmly into his individual seat with more fear of sliding or shifting.

No shortage of space in the 2016 Santa Fe! #SamuraiRides
No shortage of space in the 2016 Santa Fe! Now let me get Max and his car seat in here. #SamuraiRides

Once Max is good I can take in the rest of the Santa Fe. The large touch screen, audio system, Bluetooth integration, safety alerts, panoramic sun roof and more are all there. Small but vital additions that really impressed me were the number of charging posts in this ride. Seeing a rear 3rd row usb charger was heaven in my eyes. As a social media manager there is time I need to just plug something(s) in and let it charge for the duration of a ride. The front ports are usually engaged with my phone so and 2nd and 3rd row options are clutch.

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Hyundai continues to stand out with its progressive SUV Crossovers.

I’ve always been impressed with how a ride that seats 7 handles as well as this does. I always remember the feel of my old Ford Expedition. It wasn’t a bad feeling, but you knew you were driving a legit truck so you had to handle it a little different. The Santa Fe could have you forgetting the type of car it actually is with how smooth it rides. Smooth enough that it put Max right to sleep in his seat.

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This is the Maximus stamp of approval for automotive comfort.

While Max catches up on some shut-eye, let me share a some images with you from my most recent time with Hyundai.

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For me,, the appeal of crossovers comes from the vehicle ability to be everything you need in any season. Speed and agility for the Summer gives way to size, power and durability for the winter. It can be packed full of riders for a night out, empty so you can enjoy a mind clearing cruise alone or get you around town w/ your child as you run errands. No matter the mission the Santa Fe serves you well.

Hop over to the Hyundai site for more details on the Santa Fe and all it has to offer.

**Check Out My Previous Auto Reviews**

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