In Wheel Time

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF 'drive for good' with wind in your hair

Want to get away? This is your car. In Wheel Time

Already very familiar with the MX-5 two-seat sports car soft-top model, we recently had a chance to spend a week in the new 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF, equipped with the new retractable hard convertible top. The RF joins the MX-5 soft top version for 2017 — both offering a lighter and more nimble Mazda interpretation of their classic open-top drive experience — reasonably priced and fun-to-drive vehicle that is sure to please nearly everyone in search of "wind in the hair" driving adventure.  

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF

Our test MX-5 RF was the Grand Touring trim level with the exclusive machine gray exterior and a black/gray interior with red accent stitching, piano black trim and carbon fiber accents.  

There are a many road trips worth of reasons to like the new rear-wheel-drive Miata RF, including its slightly lower and sleeker fastback silhouette, the iconic Boxer four-cylinder engine producing 155 horsepower with 148 lb.-ft. of torque, and the very slick and quick six-speed short-throw manual transmission that very effectively puts the power to the road. Running on 17-inch dark silver alloy wheels mounted with Bridgestone 205/45 R17 high performance tires, the manual gear box gets fuel economy of 33 mpg highway. (The available six-speed automatic is rated at 35 mpg highway.)

The key feature of the RF is the "one touch" — exceptionally fast — retractable hardtop that stows in just 13 seconds, enabling quick open-top getaways. Other attributes of note include LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights; standard Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio; BOSE audio system with ine speakers (including in the headrests); Mazda Connect infotainment with navigation and satellite radio; and a 7-inch color touch screen. Seating is sport type with durable cloth cover, contrasting accent stitching and three-level heating.

Underneath, the MX-5 RF features a double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension with monotube gas shocks, stabilizer bars and uses double pinion electric power-assisted steering and equipped with stability and traction control. Brakes are 11-inch vented disc-single piston caliper front and 11-inch solid disc-single piston aluminum calipers rear.

Mazda is known for its safety features, and the MX-5 RF Grand Touring has got them, including Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Front Lighting with High Beam Control and Rain Sensing Wipers.

Our test 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF Grand Touring — delivered — had a sticker price of $33,885.

A test Drive for Good extra

As part of our test drive arrangement with Mazda, they granted us the privilege of participating in their industry-leading Drive for Good charitable giving program by giving us a “giving card” that we could use to make a donation to a 501(c)3 charitable organization of our choice.  

We selected the Air Warrior Courage Foundation — a 501(c)3 we work with through the Lake Travis Christmas Hope organization. Our charity provides direct financial assistance (not available from the government) to wounded warrior families going through rehabilitation at the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC).

The Drive for Good program

Back in 2012, Mazda decided that — instead of the usual end of year holiday sales event promotion — to offer an opportunity for consumers to test drive a Mazda vehicle with Mazda making a service donation to charity as a result. Further, if one purchased a Mazda vehicle during the event, Mazda would make a $150 donation to a selected charity as directed by the customer.   

It was so successful that Mazda expanded the program to year-round and continues it today, doing good across the United States through millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours going to worthy causes.  

Mazda announced it would be donating over $5.4 million to select charities across the United States in 2017 — money raised during their 2016 Mazda Drive for Good event.

Since the program began in 2013, Mazda has donated more than $18.4 million and delivered over 263,000 hours of service to selected charities.

Mazda’s national charity partners include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Red Cross, American Heart Association and the Mazda Foundation.

Thanks Mazda, for the test drive of the new MX-5 RF — it was a blast even without much hair for the wind to blow on my "vintage" head.  

And a big thank you from the families of our wounded warriors in rehabilitation at SAMMC who are working every day to get back to a new normal life.

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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