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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. New Orleans Jazz Fest: Prince tributes abound from Janelle Monae, Trombone Shorty, more

    Blog

    Now that the second weekend of the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is here, it’s worth mentioning the artist who seemed to eclipse last weekend's opening three days: Prince.

    From its stages and tents to even skywriters overhead, the Purple One’s death weighed heavily on those at the festival as well as its eclectic mix of artists....

    Janelle Monae offered a sweet tribute to Prince at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival: "I am because he was."
  2. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

    Autos

    To say Kia's compact Sportage is all new for 2017 is underselling what is a dramatic makeover. While it wasn't bland in its previous incarnation, neither did it stand out in the sea of similar-looking SUVs. Well, no more.

    Appearance: Kia has given the Sportage an injection of European attitude with styling cues — a boldly creased hood and curvaceous fenders that remind us of Porsche, especially with our Sportage's Sparkling Silver paint. Even the swept-back headlights — ours had the Dynamic Bending Light feature and high-beam assist — are on the crest of the fenders, which house 19-inch alloy wheels. Beneath the lamps, four-part LED fog lights add a futuristic touch. We've heard that some find the overall look odd. We disagree. This new Sportage also is slightly longer and taller, with a longer wheelbase. ...

    The instrument gauges are simple, but crisp and easy to read.
  3. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Chevrolet Suburban 4WD 1/2 ton LTZ

    Autos

    Thanks to lower gas prices, large sport utility vehicles are making a comeback. Among them is the stalwart, the Suburban, an SUV before there was the acronym. This large Chevy, which is based on the Silverado pickup, is now in its 12th generation.

    Appearance: Big and still boxy. The Suburban shares a bold front end with the Silverado with a chrome-trimmed split grille. Our 'Burb came with polished 20-inch aluminum wheels, and its almost 19-foot length was painted in a sharp Iridescent Pearl Tricoat. (Considering black? Only if your regular driving involves motorcades.)...

    The grille has two tiers with horizontal slats. The headlights are set wide. [LYRA SOLOCHEK | Times]
  4. The Daily Drivers: 2016 BMW 750i xDrive

    Autos

    The BMW 7 Series resides in the exclusive class known as "executive sedans." Indeed, its standard long wheelbase provides the cabin with roominess and comfort befitting of the C-Suite. But you don't have to be a corporate titan to appreciate BMW's flagship. We drove the all-wheel-drive 750i xDrive trim.

    Appearance: The car's contemporary look was showcased by our tester's brilliant Alpine White paint. The 7 Series avoids the bloated look of some large sedans. It benefits from subtle styling details such as its creased hood, which tapers to the familiar BMW kidney-shaped grille and upswept headlights with circular lenses. L-shaped accent trim on the lower side body panels accentuates the length of the car while adding some visual interest. The optional 20-inch V-spoke alloy wheels are some of the sharpest we've seen on a luxury sedan and would not seem out of place on a sports car. ...

     The 10-2-inch high-resolution screen sits on top of the dash.
  5. The Daily Drivers car review: 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

    Autos

    This may be the best time to shop for a small crossover, with several redesigned models already on the market or about to be rolled out. Case in point: The Mazda CX-5, which gets a mid-cycle refresh that, to quote Lyra, gives it an air of "aggressive elegance."

    Appearance: The new design features that stand out are mainly up front. The CX-5 now sports a bolder five-slat grille with thicker chrome trim. The headlights get new LEDs and the fog-lamp housings have been redesigned. The hood gains more pronounced creases and the front fenders are more curvaceous. Our Grand Touring tester came in Titanium Mica, a dark bronze that lessens the visual distraction of the wheel-well cladding. This trim comes with 19-inch dual-spoke alloy wheels....

     Our tester came with 19-inch alloy wheels.
  6. The Daily Drivers car review: 2016 Volvo XC90

    Autos

    Welcome to Volvo's future. The XC90 is the first fully redesigned effort from the Swedish brand since it was bought by China's Geely Automobiles. How successful is the result? It was named North American Truck of the Year, a category that includes SUVs.

    Appearance: The Scandinavian design philosophy still rules. While there's nothing dramatic about the XC90, it looks elegant without looking bulky like some third-row SUVs. The most striking feature is — for Volvo — a bigger and bolder rectangular grille, flanked by eye-catching headlights with LED running lights that the automaker calls "Thor's Hammer." Our model was the R-Design trim, which adds chrome-trimmed gloss-black grille slats, integrated aluminum roof rails and "silk-metal" trim. ...

    Vertical tail lights accentuate the curves.
  7. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Toyota RAV4 XLE

    Autos

    Toyota's RAV4 has been around since the beginning of the SUV trend — indeed, it may have started it. For 2016, it gets a slight refresh inside and out. Our RAV4 was the XLE model, which is nicely equipped for a mid-level trim.

    Appearance: Toyota has tweaked the exterior, most notably giving it a more chiseled front fascia whose headlights now appear to extend out of the grille. It's a more sporty look, which goes along with the rest of the automaker's recent surge of style. Our tester was came in the new Electric Storm Blue — a brilliant hue that was a hit with Lyra — and set off by 17-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels. The front and rear bumpers have silver-painted "skid-plate garnishes" that are more cosmetic than functional. Let's face it: The RAV4 is not much of an off-roader....

     2016 Toyota RAV4 XLE
  8. Recognition puts female sportscasters at risk

    Sports

    Even before revelations that the Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews was secretly videotaped naked by a stalker in a hotel room in 2008, female sportscasters have understood how frightening obsessed fans can be.

    Andrea Kremer recalled being in a hotel room while she was at NFL Films in 1988 when a man called late at night as she was falling asleep.

    "He started saying all these things he wanted to do to me, and it scared the living hell out of me," Kremer, who is now with NFL Network and HBO Sports, said. "I hung up, called downstairs, and said: 'I got a really threatening call. Can you trace it?' They said it was coming from inside the hotel. Then he called back — it was so chilling and terrifying. I was shaking. My heart was beating fast."...

    Erin Andrews testifies in her lawsuit against a hotel and the man who secretly videotaped her. Jurors awarded her $55 million in damages Monday.
  9. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Nissan Altima SL

    Autos

    Nissan has followed Honda and Toyota by giving its midsize sedan, the Altima, a mid-cycle refresh that brings a much-needed injection of style that recalls its big brother, the Maxima.

    Appearance: The Altima was looking stale, so this refresh injects some much-needed character into the midsize sedan. Most notable is the "V-Motion" grille that it now shares with other Nissans. If you stand in front of it, you'll appreciate the confluence of lines that flow down from the hood to the grille and its dramatic new "boomerang" headlights. Those changes, along with newly muscular fenders and chiseled front bumper, make the Altima one of the sharper looking midsize sedans on the market. Less successful: Lyra wasn't a fan of the black cladding that accents the rear bumper....

    LYRA SOLOCHEK   |   Times
  10. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

    Autos

    Mazda's Miata — most people don't bother with the MX-5 designation — is a litmus test for how you view driving. Do you see it as being more about the journey than the destination? If so, you'll love the Miata, which makes a driver want to choose the longest route and most twisty roads to get from Point A to Point B. Even better, this redesigned fourth-generation roadster now has a look to match its performance....

    The AC controls are simple and intuitive with three dials and push buttons.
  11. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

    Autos

    Audi has introduced its first plug-in hybrid — the A3 Sportback e-tron. The compact is the only hatchback version of the entry-level A3 sedan available in the United States and boasts 17 miles of all-electric range. The question: Is that enough EV range to justify a premium starting price?

    Appearance: Despite its robotic-sounding name, the e-tron is far from exotic. It's a handsome low-profile hatchback that without the e-tron badges would not stand out as a hybrid. Our tester's vibrant Misano Red Pearl paint and 17-inch turbine-design alloy wheels added a punch of flair and sportiness. But the e-tron does have one unique feature: The grille's four-ring Audi badge swings opens to reveal a charging port. (Uncharacteristically, the badge has a cheap plastic feel.)...

     When the car off, the infotainment screen disappears into the dash.
  12. In college basketball, you can stare if you dare

    Sports

    With college basketball's postseason in full swing, casual television viewers soon will see famous faces popping up at games across the country: Kim Kardashian. Donald Trump. Miss Universe. Not their actual faces, but rather their attention-grabbing likenesses: oversized cutouts of their heads, waved around by fans looking to draw the eye of both opposing shooters and network cameras.

    Forget heckling and Thunderstix. The new crowd staple is Taylor Swift. Or Tom Brady. Or Bert and Ernie....

    Indiana University fans waving big heads at a home game against Iowa last month. Fans try to distract free-throw shooters with the heads.
  13. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD

    Autos

    One look at the Mazda CX-3 and it was love at first sight. ... at least based on its looks. We declare the subcompact crossover to be the best-looking small SUV on the market. Then we drove it, and let's just say our affections for it surprisingly split.

    Appearance: The CX-3 is gorgeous, with a look that's as curvy as an old-school Coke bottle. The combination of its long hood, flared fenders and short rear end brings to mind a hot hatchback. Overall, the CX-3 is a prime example of Mazda's "Kodo design philosophy," which attempts to give sheet metal a flowing, organic presence. The only thing distracting from its appearance is the black cladding around the wheel wells that in our Grand Touring trim housed 18-inch alloy wheels....

     2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD
  14. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited

    Autos

    For 2016, Kia redesigned the midsize Optima, but that's almost misleading. Sure, it's the fourth generation of the sedan, but it still bears a huge resemblance to the previous iteration that rolled out as a 2010 model. And why not? The Optima is still one of the most stylish sedans in the segment. If it ain't broke . . .

    Appearance: The uncluttered design is attractive but not flashy. Credit that to chief design officer Peter Schreyer, who has had a similar influence with Volkswagen and Audi. The changes are minimal: The chassis of the Georgia-built Optima is now slightly wider, longer and stiffer. With its sporty profile and tapered roofline, it would be understandable if you mistook the Optima for a European sedan. The grille, too, is sleeker and covered with a dark-chrome 3D-mesh that houses Bi-Xenon HID headlights. (Dynamic Bending Light models with Auto-Leveling also are available.) Chrome window trim, laser-cut 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome dual exhaust tips further enhanced the look of our SX Limited model....

    2016 Kia Optima SX Limited
  15. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ

    Autos

    Take a close look at these sporty coupes. You'll notice some minor differences, but they're cosmetic. Both Scion's FR-S and Subaru's BRZ are products of a joint venture between Toyota and Subaru that were introduced as 2013 models. We recently had the chance, in successive weeks, to drive the cars again. Driving these rear-wheel-drive cousins only reinforced our appreciation of them as the choice for budget-minded enthusiasts, especially if they choose the manual gearbox. With the plug being pulled on the Scion brand later this year, the FR-S will live on as a Toyota....

    The gauges are more simple, with white-on-black numerals.