Tag Archives: reviews

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!

**Check Out My Previous Auto Reviews**

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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.

A photo posted by nightfall914 (@nightfall914) on

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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Samurai Rides: Conference Weekend in NYC w/ The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Samurai Rides: Conference Weekend in NYC w/ The 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

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After a little time off for the dog days of Summer Samurai Rides returns for the new Fall season. We jump right into things as it’s a Conference Week edition of Samurai Rides with the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.  For the past 5 years one of, if not my busiest time of the year is late September when my Travel collective Nomadness celebrates its anniversary in New York City. In conjunction with that, we now have a travel conference that precedes the party, so that just doubles the energies and efforts all around. For me personally, I also had an appearance at YMS, which is a youth marketing convention that was taking place 2 days prior in Brooklyn. It was a very full plate for me so I was incredibly thankful that I had a trustworthy ride to get me from Philadelphia back home to New Rochelle and then all about Manhattan for this very busy period.

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Full front to back moon roof!!

Mitsubishi has done well by me in the past. Samurai Rides is no stranger to their Outlander series of crossover SUVs. The last time I rode the streets in the Outlander Sport I was on assignment in the nation’s capital covering 5th annual African American Heritage Tour. The 2015 edition sport served me well in the winter winds and snowy nights. The 2016 Outlander in a beautiful diamond white made my business week in NY very enjoyable while holding it’s own with the errands and pick ups that needed to be handled .

MitsuOutlander from Nightfall 914 on Vimeo.

If this is your first exposure to the Outlander, let me give you an overview. This sporty CX SUV packs size and power while maintaining speed and agile on road handling. Expect all the usual features and accessories with the Sport edition of the Outlander. That includes but not limited to the 18′ Alloy wheels, leather wrapped gear shift and steering wheel. Climate control and 6″ Touchscreen. I will let you know that a larger 7″ screen with full Navigation is available as well. The FUSE® hands free link system with Bluetooth® 2.0 technology and speech recognition comes standard though to easily connect with phones, USB drives and most MP3 players.

Take a look for yourself at what I had the pleasure of riding in.

With the events that I usually find myself covering, the run around in those respective cities generally has me riding solo. It’s rarely a party in the car as I’m shuffling from one business engagement to another. With that being the case I need rides that enable me to be comfortable with myself and by myself. It seems simple but if I was to hop in a car with no satellite radio or no usb accessibility for more then 2 hrs, I’d be in for a loooooong ride. That integration of technology from my desktop to my phone to my car is vital. Think back to the days when nothing was connected. You personal computer did one thing, your radio did one thing and your phone did another.

I’ve been in the last 2 year releases of Mitsubishi’s Outlander. It’s a great ride that continues to stand up very well with the other economy CX SUVs that continue to grow in popularity.

You can dive into more detail at the Mitsu site here. You wont be disappointed.

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SAMURAI RIDES: WELCOME TO DC WITH THE 2016 HYUNDAI SONATA – BLACK WEBLOG AWARDS

SAMURAI RIDES: WELCOME TO DC WITH THE 2016 HYUNDAI SONATA – BLACK WEBLOG AWARDS

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July marks one of the more active months for me. Besides my usual daddy duties, I have a number of events taking me out of town. After just coming off my time in Ocean City with the new 2017 Elantra I had Hyundai fresh on my mind as I prepared for my next trip to  the DMV area. Fortunately the 2016 Sonata Sport 2.0 with its 18 inch wheels, sleek appearance and extra muscle was waiting for me. The step up in model gave me some more room and power under the hood as I made my way down the 95.

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Space, Style and Power at your fingertips in the 2016 Hyundai Sonata.

My next destination was the Black Weblog Awards that were held during the 2016 Blogging While Brown conference in Washington, DC. That was one of the most smooth rides into the nation’s capital I’ve ever taken. I can see that the new Elantra took a lot of its design influence from the Sonata.

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Blogging While Brown – Black Weblog Awards Acceptance

Essentially the Sonata is the Elantra’s big brother. Ruling the mid-size class with the most interior space of any other vehicle, you know I’m already enjoying myself.

The Sonata includes some of our favorite and at this point expected features like hands free smart trunk access, remote key ignition, rear view cameras, blind spot and lane safety detection alerts and gorgeous leather laced interior with sporty gear shift handle, pedals and chrome accents.

Besides the increase in size and space, it was the Sonata’s power that quickly struck me after a week with the Elantra. Going from  a solid 147 horsepower engine to the twin turbo pushing at up to 245 horses, the feel on the road is night and day.  When you couple that with the Sport mode steering setting and you really do feel like gliding on the open road.

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I’m not even going to lie. There were a number of impressed looks as I pulled up on George Washington University for the Blogging While Brown Conference. Here’s the thing. People see the running around that I do. With so much going on and so many things on my plate, there is only so much time I can put into transportation. How ever I choose to move about needs to be quality so I can think about other things. The Hyundai Sonata allowed me 100% confidence in the fact that I’d be arriving where I needed to be without any issues.

If nothing else, Hyundai is coming through with lots of options for your driving desires. The Sonata Sport that I experienced goes for just under $30K with the Limited Edition running you about $5K more for all the top features and added treats. At either level, I’d say that you will be a happy customer once you hit that road.

**Check Out My Previous Auto Reviews**

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SAMURAI RIDES: Welcome To Spring With The 2016 Mazda 3

SAMURAI RIDES: Welcome To Spring With The 2016 Mazda 3

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#SamuraiRides x #DriveMazda

Snow, ice and frigid temperatures have moved into the rearview mirror for another year and as the days get longer and those layers of clothing are reduced I’m back on the road with the another round of Samurai Rides w/ Mazda! This time the Mazda 3 Grand Touring and I bounced around the Tri State area and it was a blast.

For the new comers here I initially got my hands on the Mazda 3 with the 2015 edition last winter. The 3 rides smooth and has all the features I’ve come to expect from this brand. Serving up In-ride functionality with an array of safety features, while still providing quality entertainment options you’ll enjoy every moment in this car.

  • Bose® 7-speaker Sound System
  • Mazda Navigation System
  • 18-inch Alloy Wheels
  • Leather-Trimmed Seats
  • LED Headlights and Taillights

In fact, there are only a few design elements that have changed between 2015 and 2016. The biggest change this time around is less in the vehicle itself and more in what Mazda offers you package wise. Drop down tothe  end to get that info.

Drive Mazda

This time around I had what I like to call the “Cherry Bomb” edition with a gorgeous  metallic red exterior and deep dark leather interior with red trim. The Mazda designs always leave me in awe.Drive Mazda

In terms of space the 3 is the most compact sedan model behind the bigger Mazda 3 5-door or the Mazda 6, but don’t worry you won’t be lacking for room in this beauty. With my size I won’t be packing the 3 with a basketball starting 5 but taking a ride with 1 -2 other people was perfect.

“The Mazda3 entered the highly competitive compact car segment with a bang, quickly becoming one of the best examples of well-crafted performance you can get for less than 25K.” – Kelley Blue Book

**Click Here For The Mazda 3 Overview**

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Package Options changes in the 2016 Mazda 3

A big difference between the 2016 Mazda3 vs 2015 Mazda3 trim levels is the absence of the base i SV trim that was found on the 2015 model. For the 2016 model year, the i Sport is the new entry-level trim, which means more standard features for the Mazda3 and a new starting MSRP of $17,845 for the four-door model and $18,545 for the hatchback.

This price is actually lower than the 2015 Mazda3 i Sport by $600 while still managing to include more standard features, like a rearview camera. Other standard features include dual-power folding exterior mirrors, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, push button start, Bluetooth phone pairing and the Mazda Connect infotainment system on a 7-inch color touchscreen. Other trims also receive price reductions, helping the Mazda3 to continue providing great value for a new car.

The 2016 Mazda3 adds two new option packages that offer some exciting features. One package is the Preferred Equipment Package for the i Sport trim, with an MSRP of only $1,000. The other is a new package for the Mazda3 i Touring called the Popular Equipment Package, starting at $1,100. – via Mazda of Manchester 

Mazda knows what it does best and continue to excel at it. They create smaller sleek vehicles that look good and ride great. The newest model of the Mazda 3 keeps that trend going and I’m hoping that I’ll see Mazda again as the summer approaches. Check out the click below for more details on the 2016 Mazda 3. and stay tuned for something a little different on the next edition of Samurai Rides.

**Click Here For The Mazda 3 Overview**

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SAMURAI RIDES: CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF “COMPACT” WITH THE 2016 HYUNDAI ELANTRA #DRIVEHYUNDAI

SAMURAI RIDES: CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF “COMPACT” WITH THE 2016 HYUNDAI ELANTRA #DRIVEHYUNDAI

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The dog days of Summer are upon us and as we creep towards the end of August we keep things rolling here with the latest edition of #SamuraiRides. This time around we continue taking a look at what Hyundai’s 2016 line up offers us with the new Elantra GT. Combining a unique physical design, power and an array of digital “Blue Link” features, the Elantra presented a lot more than I was expecting.

Continue reading SAMURAI RIDES: CHANGING THE DEFINITION OF “COMPACT” WITH THE 2016 HYUNDAI ELANTRA #DRIVEHYUNDAI

SAMURAI RIDES: SPECIAL LOOK AT THE NEW 2016 HYUNDAI TUCSON #NEWTUCSON

SAMURAI RIDES: SPECIAL LOOK AT THE NEW 2016 HYUNDAI TUCSON #NEWTUCSON

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Recently I had the extreme pleasure to be invited to a private viewing and hands on experience with the brand new 2016 Hyundai Tucson. I’ve mentioned before that Hyundai holds a special spot with me as the Hyundai Excel which debated in 1986 was my very first car. Nearly 20 years later to see what Hyundai is doing is amazing. I spent the day the riding the roads from Manhattan to Rockland county and I was very impressed. Here are my thoughts on Hyundai’s newest vehicle.

The smaller SUV space is a popular one right now. Consumers love the concept of having extra space while still in a smaller less overbearing car. As a former Ford Expedition owner I count myself in that group too. Size and space coupled with gas efficiency and on road handling are a killer combination. Before getting into the driving elements of things let me say that the design of Hyundai’s Tucson is real sleek.

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In all honesty I wouldn’t have guessed this was a Hyundai at first. I elected  to ride in a  black on black but for those looking for more color options, Hyundai actually created 6 new colors for the 2016 edition.

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The Caribbean Blue was a standout to me.

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

When we hit the road I was caught off guard by the power of the Tucson. I had to really be careful because you could find yourself pushing 80 mph with limited effort. The braking is super responsive. as well. You know this NYC streets tested that feature well. Within its class Hyundai’s Tucson boasts the shortest distance for 60 to 0 mph brake coverage. More safety features include Lane Change Assist, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert for backing up into on coming traffic all keep you aware of the cars moving around you beyond your own vision.

The Tucson is equipped with all the technology goodies you’ve come to expect in today’s automobiles. Navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX adaptability, XM  radio and more. There are no shortages of entertainment options here. The sound system is clear and powerful which is a must have for those lengthy road trips.

Vision remains clear no matter the time of day and condition wit LED and HID lights up front and on the rear of the car. That includes lighting for the door handles as you approach the vehicle. Along with that, for those moments when your hands are full, the trunk opens automatically when it senses the key remote within 3 ft in the rear.

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Truthfully I was disappointed I getting have a longer amount of time with the Tucson. I really need to give it the full #SamuraiRides treatment. Perhaps I’ll bring that to you guys in the near future. For now hit the jump to check out some images and information about the Hyundai Tuscon. With a price ceiling of $34K for the top model it’s the ideal combination of affordability and quality.

Continue reading SAMURAI RIDES: SPECIAL LOOK AT THE NEW 2016 HYUNDAI TUCSON #NEWTUCSON

Samurai Rides: Happy New Year with The Mazda CX-9

Samurai Rides: Happy New Year with The Mazda CX-9

#SamuraiRides

As I rolled out of 2014 and into 2015 I did it in style with the new Mazda CX-9. This was my first time behind the wheel of a Mazda vehicle and I have to say they made quite the impression on me. When the suburban roads of Westchester to the city streets of NYC the CX-9 handles perfectly. Again I was able to enjoy a spacious interior within a deceptively sleek and streamlined body type.

#SamuraiRides

New York’s winter is in full swing so the heated seats and individual climate controls for the front passengers was tested early and often. This just added to the comfort as I made my way to see family and friends to usher in the new year. The CX-9 also held its own getting me through the first snow day of the snow. It wasn’t blizzard level snowfall but it was enough to require added care on the road. Thankfully the road presented no issue for the CX-9’s handling and maneuverability.

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#SamuraiRides

I was navigating a true winter wonderland with Mazda. For those of you interested in more details hit the jump fro more images and video diving into this great vehicle.

#SamuraiRides

Continue reading Samurai Rides: Happy New Year with The Mazda CX-9

Nomadness Anniversary Week In The Kia Sorento

Nomadness Anniversary Week In The Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento

For most people the unofficial end of Summer is Labor Day weekend. Parades, cookouts and parties ring in the expected end of warmer weather and the upcoming fall season. I’m not most people though. For me the summer doesn’t really end until the days that surround the final weekend of September. This is Nomadness Anniversary Weekend when our members from all over the United States and from across the globe meet up to celebrate what this year is our 3rd Anniversary. As a part of Nomadness management the preparation for the festivities have been underway for months. As the final runs and pick ups were being made, my mode of transportation received a major upgrade in the form the 2015 Kia Sorento .

Kia Sorento

The #SamuraiRides and I invite you to check out the experience.  Hit the jump for a few words and images.

Continue reading Nomadness Anniversary Week In The Kia Sorento

Online Business 101 – Email Etiquette w/ the Samurai

Online Business 101 – Email Etiquette w/ the Samurai

Etiquette

I really sat and wondered if I was going to share this, but then it happened again earlier this week in a different capacity and that forced my hand to write. We live in an amazing time for business and communication not only is it easier to find people but distance and long distance fees no longer limit the ability instantly speak with some one. Unfortunately as this communication has gotten easier some poor attitudes towards handling it have emerged. Let me share a short story…

One day I get an email from a company that deals in healthy natural body wash products. I check them out and things look good. They tell me that they’ve seen my work with a major retail store they are selling in and want to work with me. They bring the idea of a product review to me.  I’m cool with this as a few to help the brand I’m already working with and aid this smaller company as well. The initial email also stated they would reimburse me for the products I’m reviewing.  At this point I reply back stating my interest in working with them but that I need to know if there is an ability to compensate me. I appreciate the “in return we will promote you on our social networks” offer but that truthfully doesn’t equate to the time spent in creating the product review or the reach I already have via the brands I work with. Continuing to express a desire to find a middle ground I offer a discounted negotiable rate. To this day I have received no reply.

No one answered and said sorry we don’t have the budget for that but thank you. No counter offer was made. They didn’t hear what they wanted and essentially said “Well forget you.” I thought about replying back to point out this level of unprofessional communication. I considered mentioning them here by name but elected not to. What I will pass on to anyone planning to do business with a blogger and/or social media professional is to have multiple plans of attack and be prepared to not get what you want. You’re professionalism should not be determined by if you get your way or not. Also having a basic respect for the time and work of others helps too. This company took some time to see what I was doing and who I was doing it with yes, but clearly they should have known I get paid for the same thing they were asking me to do for free. What’s the point of the work I’ve put in to build my still my growing brand to a point of earning money just to accept freebies? I’m always down to try and make things work but this was just rude.

This is what I have to deal with. No complaints but people still don’t see the need to apply basic codes of business conduct and etiquette to what people like me do. Perhaps one day…..