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GMC’s Terrain adds mobile connectivity

The GMC Terrain is nice enough, but the 2015 Denali luxury version gets exclusive wheels, a chrome grille, a smoother ride, black leather on the seats and door inserts and a sunroof. The Denali starts at $36,415 for front-wheel drive or $38,165 for all-wheel drive. The optional 3.6-liter V-6, with 301 horsepower, is more satisfying in terms of performance and towing. Inside, the leather seats are comfortable and have a good feel. The test vehicle’s instrument panel had mahogany wood accents. The Terrain, like many of GM’s 2015 products, has a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot via OnStar’s 4G LTE connection.


Mercedes unveils its newest ute, the GLA

The Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic compact crossover is appealing on many fronts: it’s easy to drive through traffic, can carry a lot of cargo and gets good gas mileage. The all-wheel drive GLA250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with 208 horsepower, and starts at $33,300. Inside, a woodgrain or metallic trim panel arcs across the dash behind the vents, creating a feeling of open space and style. The Mbrace2 infotainment system provides emergency notification as well as on-the-go access to the Internet. Owners are able to use their smartphone to lock or unlock the car from a distance and instantly find it in a parking lot.


Compact RDX loaded with tech, comfort

Acura’s premium compact RDX is an excellent example of why the compact crossover segment is so popular. It has most of the amenities one expects in an entry-level luxury car yet the cargo space, easily expanded by folding down the seat, is big enough for bags of yard mulch, home improvement materials or the occasional bicycle or two. The leather-trimmed interior has an abundance of soft-touch materials, and the instrument panel is pleasingly styled. The V-6 in the RDX is smooth, quiet and capable of scooting along quickly when needed.


2015 Mustang: The Pony Car rides again

Ford has succeeded in creating the sixth-generation, 50th anniversary Mustang that is better in every way. It looks great, has three engine choices and an upgraded interior. It is notably free from wind noise and handles deftly because of the new independent rear suspension. The 2015 Mustang has a starting price of $23,600 with the 3.7-liter V-6 but for $1,570 more you can get the turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates a phenomenal 310 horsepower and delivers 32 miles per gallon in highway testing.


Plymouth street rod long has been a work in progress

It’s not often that you see a 1933 Plymouth coupe, much less one that has been turned into a beautiful street rod, but that is exactly what Steve Branch and his wife, Gail, have done. It is an example of commitment and dedication because it has been through several iterations since they bought it in 1968, just two years after they were married.


Shaker hood is Challenger throwback

The 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker is a throwback to the 1970s muscle cars. It’s namesake shaker hood is an air cleaner that protrudes through a hole in the hood and shakes because it is attached directly to the engine. It is powered by a 375-horsepower engine that yanks the car to 60 miles per hour in about 5.5 seconds yet it is docile and tame due to abundant low-speed torque. Racers will love the six-speed manual transmission for fast driving.


Honda continues Civic evolution with CVT

The biggest change for the 2014 Honda Civic was the addition of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that improves the city fuel mileage rating from 28 to 30 and also boosts acceleration slightly. The 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine’s i-VTEC valve control system delivers its 128 pound-feet of torque at relatively low engine speeds so it feels stronger than the 143 horsepower might indicate. The interior is fairly quiet, and the front seats have excellent lumbar support and good legroom.


Redesigned Outlander is like small wagon

The Outlander is more like a small station wagon than an SUV, but that’s OK because most SUVs are driven and used as if they were wagons. It has a third-row seat, but it is small and best used only by children. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine is rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway and is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The ride is fairly smooth and reasonably well controlled.


Dick Carpenter enjoys restoring, exhibiting motorcycles

Tucked away in a small storefront on Main Street in Pleasanton, Kan., is a small collection of vintage motorcycles, many of which are owned by Dick Carpenter. Carpenter, 68, displays about 40 bikes that belong to him and a couple of his friends in a small storefront next to his office. He describes the eclectic collection as “riders” that are interesting but not spit-and-polish museum pieces. Carpenter’s motorcycle interest leans heavily toward Harley-Davidsons, the earlier the better.

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