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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


  1. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Toyota Sienna XLE


    Appearance: The Sienna still has a somewhat muscular appearance, with character lines that wrap around the front wheel wells and continue down the side. The short hood dips down into the bold grille, which in our second-from-the-top-trim XLE is chrome with horizontal slats. Our Sienna came in Blizzard Pearl ($395 option), a "special color" that is an attractive off-white that's worth it if you are considering white. The 17-inch, seven-spoke wheels give the van a little swagger....

     [LYRA SOLOCHEK   |   Times]
  2. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Acura RDX AWD


    We've often been disappointed by Acura because we feel it hasn't distanced itself enough from parent Honda to truly be seen as a luxury brand. But sometimes, less is more. Such is the case with the RDX, the compact SUV, which gets a mid-cycle refresh. So is Acura making progress? Slowly.

    Appearance: It leans toward the classic, without any of the more flowing lines of its luxury SUV competition. There's nothing wrong with that; after all, we've always felt that Acura suffered from an identity crisis, so maybe the RDX's clean character lines and elegant profile is a step toward a design aesthetic. After all, it resembles its big sibling, the MDX, and now has standard "Jewel Eye" LED headlights that debuted on the RLX luxury sedan. The RDX, and other Acuras, still sport the chevron shield grille, but it's smaller and more subtle. Our RDX came in rich Fathom Pearl Blue, which added to its sophisticated appearance, as does 18-inch alloy wheels. ...

    The white-on-black gauges are large and easy to read. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  3. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Kia Sedona SXL


    The bottom line: If you're shopping for a minivan, the Sedona may not be the first name that springs to mind, but it should be part of the conversation, especially if you value styling and a comfy cabin.

    Kia brought back the Sedona in 2015 to compete with the heavyweights in the minivan segment: Toyota, Honda and Chrysler. One thing quickly becomes evident if you spend any time in the Sedona, especially the top-of-line SXL trim: The Big 3 may have become the Big 4....

    The third row seats can be tilted backward.
  4. The UFC at 23: MMA set for nation's biggest stage


    Before there was Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, there was Teila Tuli, a hulking Hawaiian sumo wrestler who had some teeth knocked out in Ultimate Fighting Championship's first bout.

    On Nov. 12, 1993, the 410-pound Tuli, dressed in a colorful Samoan sarong, fought a wiry Dutchman dressed in white drawstring pants named Gerard Gordeau, who checked in at half Tuli's weight. The idea of the elimination-style event at Denver's McNichols Arena was to pit martial arts styles against one another to determine "the best," and Tuli's slow-moving sumo skills stood no chance against Gordeau's swift savate moves....

    NOV. 12, 1993: Tuli, all 410 pounds of him, is felled like a redwood by a wiry Dutchman named Gerard Gordeau, who was half Tuli’s weight.
  5. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Kia Forte S


    They don't make compact cars like they used to, and that's a good thing. No longer simply no-frills transportation, today's compacts often flash the same style and technology as their larger siblings. Case in point: the Kia Forte sedan. (There also are two other Forte models: The Forte5 hatchback and the Koup.)

    Appearance: The overall design has been refreshed for 2017 and the Forte now resembles its bigger sibling, the midsize Optima, with a angled beltline and a sloping roof that extends into the rear deck and gives it a coupe-like profile. Other changes include a new front fascia highlighted by large gloss black grille and stern-looking headlights that sweep up and back into the fenders. A curved character line extends across the bottom of both doors, echoing the arc of the roofline. Overall, the look is more elegant than aggressive, and not as showy as some cars in this class....

    The steering wheel controls are easy to use with a combination of thumb toggles and buttons.   [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  6. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Jaguar XE 35t AWD Prestige


    Jaguar jumps back into the compact luxury segment for 2017 with the XE sports sedan, which the company launched this spring and touted as an "aluminum-intensive drivers car." Jag has been on a roll as of late with its sleek F-Type sports car and new F-Pace SUV, so how does the XE stack up?

    Appearance: The model we drove was the XE 35t AWD Prestige. From its sloping and sculpted hood to the subtle touches that recall the F-Type, the XE may be a compact car, but it's neither small nor boring. Our XE came in Ammonite Gray, which gave it a menacing look set off by 19-inch Venom 5 twin-spoke black wheels and a gloss-black mesh grille highlighted by a red Jaguar badge. The XE also has Jag's signature J-Blade daytime running lights, while the tail lights have a hint of the rear lamps on the F-Type. A minor complaint: The dual exhaust tips lack integrated finishers; chrome tips would have been nice to enhance the sporty look. ...

    The sedan has a long nose with a sporty roofline. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  7. SportsTalk: The Lightning players' off-ice rituals


    Lightning coach Jon Cooper loves this movie, "Wedding Crashers."
  8. SportsTalk: Transgender hockey player hears his 'name said right'

    Human Interest



    Up until the season-opening game Friday of the National Women's Hockey League's second season, the 23-year-old who teammates call "Brownie" went by the name Hailey Browne. That changed when the rising star for the Buffalo Beauts went public in announcing that he identifies as male, becoming the first openly transgender player in U.S. pro team sports. "My family is starting to come to grips with it," Browne told ESPN. "Now it's my time to be known as who I am, to be authentic and to hear my name said right when I get a point, or see my name on a website." Browne didn't have to wait long: He scored in his team's first game and got to hear "Harrison Browne" announced over the PA system. "It was unreal," he said. Commissioner Dani Rylan said the league is now working on a policy that will include transgender athletes and the NWHL fully supports Browne. "It felt like the stars were aligning for Harrison," Rylan said after seeing him score — on a short-handed breakaway, no less. "I don't know if it would've been as easy for him five years ago."...

    Josh McCown tweeted this photo of his daughter, Bridget, and her friends wearing jerseys from some of the teams Dad has played for since 2002. COURTESY OF @JoshMcCown12.
  9. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Audi R8 Coupe


    We often get asked a variation on this question: If you won the lottery, what car would you buy? For Peter, the answer is easy: Audi's R8. Lyra wouldn't mind one either. With a starting price of $162,900, we'd need that winning ticket to afford the supercar. (Still, the R8 is a bargain compared with its corporate cousin, the Lamborghini Huracán, which starts at $237K.) So why all the R8 love?...

    The cockpit is driver-centric.
  10. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Honda Civic Coupe Touring


    You have to applaud Honda: The carmaker still believes that some drivers prefer two doors to four — hence the coupe versions of the popular Accord and compact Civic. Following its redesigned sedan, Honda rolled out a new coupe for 2016 with an edgier design, bolder face and an available turbo 4.

    Appearance: Our Civic Coupe Touring's design was overshadowed by its color — Energy Green Pearl, which looks and sounds like a new Mountain Dew flavor. (Someone asked if it was a performance model based on its color. No, it just looks loud.) Once you get past the Day-Glo paint, the Civic Coupe features an aggressive and chrome-heavy grille that extends between and over slender, jewellike headlights. Sharp creases sculpted the hood and run the length of the body, swooping up over the rear wheels. Those wheels are pushed out to the corners with minimal overhang, resulting in a wider stance. In the rear, the LED taillights extend across the deck-lid spoiler in what Peter called a "futuristic, Honda Insight (RIP) style." It's an attention-getter, especially at night. The two doors open wide and make entrance easy, even for backseat passengers. The 17-inch alloy wheels are sharp....

    The 17-inch alloy wheels have black painted accents. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  11. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet


    Is there an enduring automotive design more iconic than the rear-engined Porsche 911 Carrera? You don't have to be an auto enthusiast to recognize the distinctive shape and know: "That's a Porsche." For 2017, the 911 — across its dozen-and-a-half models — is sleeker, more powerful and yet more efficient.

    Appearance: Our 911 Carrera S Cabriolet (convertible) was the embodiment of elegance and sportiness in crisp white with a bright red drop-top and 20-inch Carrera alloy wheels with red brake calipers. Even Peter's wife conceded: "That's a beautiful car." The soft top, which folds flat and out of the way, preserves the car's iconic profile. Elsewhere, the car gets slight cosmetic updates front and rear — headlights, grille, taillights, vents. ...

    A stopwatch sits on top of the dash with the Sport Chrono package.  [LYRA SOLOCHEK   |   Times]


    Greg Walker encountered the tallest man in Iran in the dining hall of a hotel in rural China. Walking with crutches, the man, Morteza Mehrzad, ducked beneath a towering archway. Once through, he straightened his back, unfolding his 8-foot-1-inch frame.

    Walker's first thought: Wow.

    His second thought: Oh, this is bad.

    Walker, who was at a tournament as the coach of the United States men's sitting volleyball team, realized that Iran had intensified the competition to find tall players leading up to the Paralympics....

    Morteza Mehrzad during a sitting volleyball match against China at the Paralympics in Rio on Saturday. With Mehrzad’s entrance into the competition, the coaches of other nations must rethink their strategy — or get taller players.
  13. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Volkswagen Golf R


    Lyra almost bought a Volkswagen GTI a few years ago — black with a sunroof. The combination of sporty performance and versatility of a four-door hatchback was a big draw, but she ended up with an SUV instead. If VW only had the Golf R back then, her choice would have been much different.

    Appearance: Nothing screams performance when you see the Golf R. It shares characteristics of the regular and somewhat boxy hatchback Golf. But if you look closely, you'll notice the subtle "R" badge, sporty exterior trim, quad exhaust tips in chrome, rear spoiler and 18-inch alloy wheels that set it apart. The Lapiz Blue Metallic paint is a classy hue. Seems Volkswagen decided less is more, and it works. ...

    AC controls are easy with simple dials and push buttons.
  14. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Infiniti QX30 Sport


    When is a crossover not a hatchback? When is an Infiniti not a Mercedes? Welcome to the conundrum that is the brand-new Infiniti QX30. Parent company, Nissan, calls it a "premium active crossover" for a "new breed of driver." Obviously, that driver is one who wouldn't deign to be seen behind the wheel of a hatchback. And what of Mercedes? The QX30 has the same DNA as the GLA — the result of a joint venture between Mercedes and Nissan. Our QX30 was the Sport. Other models include base, Luxury and Premium....

    The gauges in the instrument cluster are simple.
  15. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Mazda3 Grand Touring


    For those who view compact sedans as the most efficient way to move four people from Point A to Point B, let's consider the Mazda3. The 3, which comes in four- and five-door (hatchback) models, makes the journey between those points more fun than you would expect from a small sedan, especially when outfitted with Mazda's slick manual transmission.

    Appearance: The 3 wears Mazda's design philosophy well for a small sedan. The lines flow from its longish hood and over the fenders before swooping down through the door, giving the car the illusion of motion. Only when you get to the rear, which seems somewhat truncated, is the elegant look interrupted. Our 3 came in Blue Reflex Mica paint, which Lyra described as a "bright and cheerful" color. A rear deck-top lip and 16-inch alloy wheels provide finishing touches....

    The front seats are sporty, with good side bolstering.