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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.


VW’s sleek four-door has high style

The CC is available in Sport, R-Line and Executive models, with prices ranging from $31,795 to $42,895 for the VR6 Executive with all-wheel drive. The turbo's boost comes on at low rpm so the CC steps away from a stop with considerable vigor. Volkswagen’s terrific DSG dual-clutch automatic is such a delightful transmission that I would choose it over the manual. The CC's interior continues the coupe theme. The ergonomically formed sport seats sit low and offer added lateral support for vigorous driving. The fit and finish is excellent.


Infiniti’s flagship gets a new name

Infiniti’s top-of-the-line sedan is the Q70, and if it doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because Infiniti has renamed its entire lineup so that all models begin with Q. The Q70 was the M37 last year. The Q70 comes with a 3.7-liter V-6 or a 5.6-liter V-8 in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Base prices range from $49,600 to $64,600. There are four drive modes – Eco, Standard, Sport and Snow – that can be selected with a knob on the console. The Q70’s interior is a very inviting place, made even more so by the test car’s optional premium, deluxe touring and technology packages.


Corolla continues its evolution

The 2014 Toyota Corolla has a level of technology and sophistication that puts it near the top of its segment. Inside, the Corolla is comfortable, with generous side bolsters on the seats providing good lateral support. It’s also quiet. The continuously variable transmission is programmed to have seven discreet shifts that mimic a traditional automatic. The Corolla can be equipped with either of two 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engines. Prices begin at $16,900 and top out at $22,675. There are 12 trim levels.

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