Since 2014, The Rock Father™ Santa Holiday Toy Delivery Program has been something that I've looked forward to every year. It's an opportunity to give back to my community through a hyper-local, extremely focused effort to provide holiday gifts for the children of families that could use a hand. For our fourth annual run, I changed things up a little bit - reacting to a sub-par effort in 2016 (donations were way down) by starting preparations earlier. The ultimate goal is simple: to provide toys to as many local children and families as possible, as served by our local township. While there's plenty of bigger organizations that do great work, I wanted our families' efforts to have an impact on our immediate community - friends and neighbors that we may not really know, but people we may be crossing paths with every day. For Avon Township, which serves the villages of Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Park, Round Lake Heights Grayslake, Hainesville & Third Lake, Illinois, a recent estimate was that 4,000 people were being served by Avon Cares Food Pantry each month. I have no idea how many children are in that number, but if I could help all of them, I would. This year, we provided gifts for 72 of them.
When I really started working with cars on a frequent basis a few years back, Mazda was a nameplate that didn't immediately strike me as interesting. For some reason, the cars of their past were largely stuck in my head - images of the 1980s that I just couldn't shake. But once I had a real chance to experience what Mazda is now, I really became a fan. In fact, I love their CX series - with last year's CX-9 ranking among my favorite vehicles of the year. Now comes a look at the 2017 Mazda6 GT.
Last month, while the folks at Mazda USA were in Southern California doing an unveiling of some of their upcoming rides for 2017, I was here in Northern Illinois enjoying one of their most recent releases - the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD. Now, I think a lot of readers might not be familiar with a mid-model-year update, as it's far less common these days as it used to be. Quite simply, the CX-5 received some updates to carry the '16 into '17, and hence the 2016.5 moniker. Thanks to the unseasonably warm temperatures and some suburbs-to-city adventures I had planned (the Nintendo Switch launch, for one), I was able to spend a solid week with the car, giving it a hands-on evaluation in several conditions. More importantly, I got some real family time in this one, using one of its Mazda siblings (and one of my favorite cars of the past year) for some comparison... the CX-9.
Rock Father Rides is a new section of The Rock Father that's devoted to Automotive Coverage for the Octane-Obsessed Family... from toy cars to real rides.
While I'd like to think that I've always had a penchant for cars with a bit of style, speed, and perhaps a dash of the sly and sinister, the reality is that function and dependability has always reigned supreme when my final buying decision was made. After all, back in '97, I bought a new Ford wagon (and slapped a "bra" and sport wheels on it to make it look "cooler") because it got good mileage and was able to perfectly fit my Peavey Half-Stack in the back, along with room for my guitars when I was still in a band on a regular basis. Now, as a parent, my vehicular needs have to account for other factors that accommodate a family of four. Earlier this month, the crew over at Mazda USA asked if I'd take their new Mazda3 for a spin and put it to The Rock Father test. And test it, I did... but I might not be the most important reviewer...