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Peter Couture, Times/tbt* Staff Writer

Peter Couture

Peter Couture grew up in St. Petersburg and is a graduate of the University of South Florida. He has worked for the Tampa Bay Times full-time since graduating from USF in 1989. He was a member of the startup team for the daily edition of tbt*, where he is the editor of the weekly Rides, Office and Cuisine sections. He also edits the daily SportsTalk page. He co-writes the weekly auto review column, the Daily Drivers.

Phone: (727) 892-2938

Email: pcouture@tampabay.com

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  1. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Honda Civic Touring

    Autos

    The previous generation Honda Civic, which seemed tired (design) and uninspired (cabin materials), stalled its reputation as the class leader among compact cars. Now comes the all-new 2016 Civic, which we drove the same week it was named the North American Car of the Year. Does it deserve such praise? We think so.

    Appearance: Peter owns a 2010 Civic and this new model makes his look pedestrian. In our top-of-the-line Touring model, the grille has a dominant chrome bar that extends over the slender LED headlights that resemble the Jewel Eye lamps of Honda's upscale Acura brand. The body of this new Civic — about 3 inches longer and 2 inches wider — makes a further bold statement with its fender bulges, sharply creased sheet metal and short, coupelike rear. Setting it off: 17-inch twisted fan-blade alloys. Dare we say it: The Civic is now edgy. ...

    The profile of the Civic is almost coupe-like with a raked rear window and short trunk lid.
  2. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD

    Autos

    Hyundai has redesigned its compact crossover for the 2016 model, making the third-generation Tucson bigger and bolder. The question is, of course, is it better?

    Appearance: Hyundai is going for a more sophisticated, rather than sporty, bearing for its "Fluidic Scupture 2.0" design ethos. That said, the 2016 Tucson now follows the look of its larger Hyundai siblings, the two Santa Fe models. It has a larger and chrome-trimmed hexagonal grille flanked by projector-beam (or optional LED) head lamps. We both like how the sheet metal is sculpted and sweeps back across the body. Other touches that add flair: 19-inch alloy wheels, low-profile roof rails, LED taillights that sit high for good visibility, a hatch top spoiler and twin chrome exhaust tips. Overall, Peter thinks the new look is handsome, if drawing a bit from its competition....

     The Tucson has up to 61.9 cubic feet of cargo space.
  3. MAJOR-LEAGUE MOTORS

    Sports

    Pablo Sandoval pulled up to a custom car shop on a recent Friday afternoon hoping to do some business. He wanted to trade in the Porsche Panamera he was driving, order new rims for his two Range Rovers, pick up the gray one that was being worked on and discuss the next car he would buy: a 2016 Rolls-Royce Ghost.

    Sandoval strolled inside and, seeing no one at the front desk, leaned on the counter and playfully smacked the bell several times. The owner, a Miami native named Alex Vega, suddenly emerged, smiling, with a phone pinned to his ear. Vega hugged Sandoval; kissed Sandoval's girlfriend, Yulimar Martins, on the cheek; and invited them to his office to talk....

    Alex Vega, left, owner of the Auto Firm, shows Pablo Sandoval and his girlfriend, Yulimar Martins, a customized
Mercedes van.
Photos by
Angel Valentin/
New York Times
  4. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Lexus IS 200t

    Autos

    We've always enjoyed Lexus' small sedan, formerly known as the IS 250. For us, it's been one of those "just enough" cars aimed at the buyer who wanted something upscale, sporty and stylish in "just enough" doses. For 2016, Lexus has redesigned its entry-level car, renaming it the IS 200t. That little "t" is for turbo. It's the engine from the NX200t crossover that we liked so much when it was first introduced....

    The IS interior has a linear design. The console sits at an angle.
  5. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Chevrolet Volt

    Autos

    We've been fans of the Chevy Volt ever since getting behind the wheel of a first-generation model at a test-drive event in 2010. We've driven the Volt a few more times over the years and that has only reinforced our opinion of the car as a great way for commuters to go (mostly) electric without "range anxiety." Still, we've always wished for greater electric-only range. Now comes the redesigned and improved 2016 Volt. ...

     The 60/40-split rear seats fold down for versatile cargo hauling.
  6. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Toyota Tacoma

    Autos

    The Toyota Tacoma has long been the king of the midsize segment, especially after the domestic carmakers decided to take a break. Now that they're back, the competition is stiffer than ever. So the Tacoma has been redesigned for 2016 with a more contemporary look and updated powertrain.

    Appearance: The new design is bold — more along the lines of its big brother, the Tundra — with muscular fenders, an aggressive chrome-trimmed trapezoidal grille and a stamped, locking tailgate. One nice feature across the Tacoma line: a high ground clearance of 9.4 inches. Our tester, the Limited trim, was the double-cab model with a short bed. It came with details such as chrome-capped exterior mirrors, a bed with a composite surface, locking trifold tonneau cover and 18-inch polished alloy wheels....

    The trapezoidal grille has a chrome trim. The headlights flanking it are more slender and chiseled.
  7. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Audi Q3

    Autos

    For 2016, Audi has refreshed its small Q3 for the highly competitive U.S. crossover market. The Q3 gets a restyled front end and a few more standard features to what is, under the skin, a Volkswagen Tiguan.

    Appearance: The big change up front is a bolder version of Audi's single-frame grille. It now connects to the new headlights, which in our Premium Plus tester were Xenon-plus lamps with LED running lights. (Full LED units are optional.) In the rear, the taillights also have been restyled. Our tester also came in an Monsoon Gray Metallic, a limousine-like hue that is a $575 upgrade. Our Q3 rode on 18-inch wheels; an upgrade to sharper 19-inch wheels can be had for $800. Overall, the Q3 is a handsome small crossover whose slightly stubby profile is camouflaged by its sharp body creases and details such as a spoiler atop the tapered rear hatch....

    The leather sport-style front seats were firm but comfortable, and had good side bolstering.
  8. A young life gone

    Sports

    Coaches at Harrisonville High still have the tape of Michael Keck's first football game. The freshman starter — powerfully built and preternaturally talented for someone so young — barrels toward an opposing player, tackling him so hard that pieces of his helmet fly off. The play is set to a song that goes, "Here comes the BOOM," and the tape is worn from watching and rewatching. It is a relic of a hometown hero, the handsome young star who willed himself out of a troubled upbringing and into a starting spot on the University of Missouri football team....

    The late Michael Keck, left, as a redshirt freshman at Missouri.
  9. The Daily Drivers: Take a look back at 2015

    Autos

    When looking back at the cars we drove in 2015, one thing stood out: There wasn't a lot that wowed us. That has less to do with the quality of vehicles and more to do with simple luck of the draw. The cars we test-drive come from the automakers and are maintained and delivered by independent fleet companies. We're often asked: "Why haven't you driven Model X?" Well, we drive what's sent to us. Many vehicles never trickle down to the press fleets and then to us. (Hello, new Mustang?) With that bit of explanation out of the way, here are our favorite rides of the past year....

    2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite
  10. Taggart's Western union

    Sports

    It is home to a bustling college and a Corvette plant, a modest-sized city in the Commonwealth's southern midsection. For those rearing families or retiring, they say Bowling Green, Ky. — with a population of around 60,000 — is tough to trump. The town square resembles something off a Norman Rockwell easel. The fall foliage is breathtaking.

    "It's a great place to live," Willie Taggart said. "It's one of those places where you go and get there, and it'll trap you, it'll suck you in. You don't want to leave."...

    GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 26:  Will Grier #7 of the Florida Gators warms up during a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) 567642277
  11. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

    Autos

    It has been some time since we've driven a Mini Cooper, a car we've always liked for its quirky brand of auto nostalgia combined with modern touches and go-kart performance. Lyra was once a proud Mini owner (2002).

    Appearance: Not much has changed in the overall design, which harkens back to the iconic Mini of the 1960s. (If it ain't broke . . .) Our tester was the John Cooper Works performance model that has a standard full-body aero kit, which includes a chrome-trimmed black-mesh grille, functional hood air scoop and centered dual exhaust. Our tester came in Bright Chili Red with black "bonnet" stripes. Some might think the combination tame considering that Mini offers so many customization options. Our tester came with the optional 18-inch JCW Cup Spoke two-tone wheels....

    When you switch to Sport Mode, a graphic encourages you — “Let’s Motor Hard!” — and the ring around it glows red.
  12. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe and Convertible

    Autos

    People often ask: Of all the cars you've driven, which one is the most fun? Jaguar's F-Type R would definitely be near the top of our list — both for its design and overall sensory excitement. We are especially enamored of the coupe, which we think is one of the most stylish cars on the road. Even better: For 2016, a manual transmission and all-wheel drive are now available on some models....

    The 14-way adjustable performance seats are well-bolstered and hold the occupants in place.
  13. EYES WIDE OPEN

    Sports

    Nicole Jeray has heard all the jokes about sleeping on the job. Over the years, she has learned to laugh at herself when she awakens in the fairway during golf tournament rounds or on greens when it is her time to putt.

    Her life as a touring professional has been anything but typical since 1996, when she was found to have narcolepsy, which the Mayo Clinic describes as a "chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep."...

    Nicole Jeray, 45, played in the LPGA Q-School last week. In 22 trips to it, she’s earned full LPGA status seven times and partial status eight, like this year.
  14. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Scion iM

    Autos

    Scion is Toyota's brand aimed at the youth market, which makes us wonder if that's why we've only had the opportunity to drive a couple of the quirky car line's models. We haven't been overly impressed with what we've seen so far, but that has changed now that we've driven the all-new iM five-door hatchback.

    Appearance: The iM resembles one of parent Toyota's models, which makes sense because it shares an underbody with the Corolla. The iM's sleek look — low-angled hood, aero kit and honeycombed grille work — says hot hatch. We especially like its aggressive face; the slender grille and narrow headlights squint out and up from the center Scion badge. We also liked the standard 17-inch alloy wheels that looked to be in motion when the car was parked. The rear of the iM looks wide, partly because of its wraparound sculpted taillights....

    The 6-speed manual transmission shifts quickly, but the clutch
is numb.
  15. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

    Autos

    Now that Alfa Romeo has returned to America as part of parent Fiat Chrysler's lofty ambitions, the first offering is the mid engine 4C and 4C Spider sports car. Lyra got to experience the Italian two-seater recently while Peter's turn with it was derailed by a flat tire and the search for a replacement.

    Appearance: There's no question the sexy 4C is a head-turner. The curvaceous body's high rear shoulders incorporate air scoops and give the car the look of a smaller-scale exotic. (It's only 157 inches long.) In the front, the rounded, creased hood drops down to small V-shaped grille opening that carries the Alfa badge. In the rear, round taillights recall corporate cousin Ferrari. Such styling draws attention and made Lyra the recipient of at least one stoplight challenge from a Viper driver. (She passed: 4 cylinders versus the Viper's 10? Not a fair contest.)...

    That’s not just for looks. This is real carbon-fiber body, just like with some supercars.