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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 Acura MDX AWD

    Autos

    Quick, name an Acura model. Chances are, it's the MDX, which, given the identity crisis that seems to inflict some of the brand's other models, is a good thing. That's because the MDX stands out in the crowded SUV landscape. Acura redesigned the MDX for 2014, skipped a 2015 model designation and went directly to the 2016 we drove, which adds some powertrain changes.

    Exterior: This third-generation MDX seems more refined in its appearance and wouldn't look out of place next to its German competition. The appearance of slight fender flares are the only element that breaks up its sleek and stately design, accentuated by chrome window trim. Still here, though, is Acura's "shield" grille, a design that is starting to show its age. Our tester came in handsome Fathom Blue Pearl....

    Sliding forward the second-row seats is easy: with a push of a button.
  2. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

    Autos

    We always appreciated the Lexus IS F sport coupes and their blend of sportiness and luxury. Now the new RC models replace those sports coupes. We drove the RC350 with the F Sport trim upgrade. It sports an attractive entry price for a luxury car — starting at $42,790.

    Appearance: It sure does attract attention, especially with our tester's Ultrasonic Blue Mica paint. The coupe has the Lexus' large spindle grille, which in the F Sport trim is mesh with chrome trim and a prominent Lexus badge in the middle. This aggressive front is complemented by the triangular headlights with check-mark LED running lights below them. We both liked the car's aerodynamic profile that tapers back from the curved hood into a fastback-style roof with an integrated spoiler lip on the trunk. The 19-inch F Sport wheels have a unique design. The rear vents that flank the exhausts? They look totally fake and kind of cool at the same time....

    A metallic bevel surrounds the digital display of the tach.
  3. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Lincoln MKC AWD

    Autos

    It has been too long since we've driven a Lincoln. The company has rebranded itself as the Lincoln Motor Company and enlisted actor Matthew McConaughey as its pitchman in an effort to be a player in the luxury-car segment again. That brings us to the new MKC, the "Luxury Utility Vehicle" built on parent Ford's Escape compact-crossover platform.

    Appearance: It may be based on the Escape platform, but the MKC doesn't scream "Ford." Instead, the sheet-metal creases on the hood and body give it a more sophisticated look; the MKC wouldn't look out of place next to some of its German competition. Then there are the styling cues that are all Lincoln, including the bold split-winged grille with the Lincoln logo at the center. It's not for everyone (count Lyra among them). But Peter is firmly Team Wing Grille. One thing's for certain: You'll know it's a Lincoln. The rear, with its wraparound liftgate design, is just as bold, with sleek horizontal LED taillights that recall classic Lincolns. Our tester had the optional 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with dark stainless painted pockets that were a sharp contrast to the Ruby Red Metallic exterior paint....

    The rear seats can be tight on legroom if the front occupants push the seats all the way back.
  4. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Rolls-Royce Wraith

    Autos

    If you can afford the moon and the stars, then the 2015 Rolls-Royce Wraith is how you should roll. Think we exaggerate? The Wraith's fiber-optic Starlight headliner mimics the night sky. Rolls resurrected its historic Wraith name last year when it introduced this coupe, which is based on the Ghost sedan but rides on a shorter wheelbase. Rolls calls the Wraith the most high-tech and powerful car in its storied history — the 6.6-liter V-12 produces 624 horsepower — and it resembles nothing less than a sporty fastback. A fun-to-drive Rolls? Proof you can have it all under the stars....

    Much of the interior is covered in natural-grain leather, including the dash, seating surfaces, door panels and pillars. Elsewhere, there’s open-grain paneling and chrome and piano-black consoles.
  5. 'I'm shocked that Austin Dillon is even alive'Jimmie Johnson

    'I'm shocked that Austin Dillon is even alive.'

    Jimmie Johnson

    "It's not really acceptable, I don't think."

    Austin Dillon

    what they're saying

    "Today is a day to figure out how to make racing better and safer. And the simplest way to do that is for NASCAR to lower the speeds at Daytona and Talladega with a rules package that restricts the cars' ability to reach 200 mph." Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer...

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds up the trophy with fiance Amy Reimann, right, after winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, July 6, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)  DBR155
  6. The Daily Drivers: A look at a range of Rovers

    Autos

    It doesn't seem like that long ago that Land Rovers were primarily viewed as sturdy off-roaders. How times have changed. Now, the company's vehicles are symbols of aspirational luxury where the "S" in SUV may as well stand for "status." But despite being well-mannered family haulers on the road, Rovers are still at home off the pavement, as well. The best of both worlds? Yes. Here are three Range Rovers along with the more rugged Land Rover LR4. They all are equipped with four-wheel drive and Terrain Response System for adjusting the ride to surface conditions. ...

     Photo by Lyra Solochek, Tampa Bay Times
  7. The Daily Drivers: 2015 GMC Canyon 4WD SLT

    Autos

    The choices for midsize trucks have dwindled in the past few years as domestic carmakers focused more on full-size pickups. But now General Motors has decided to jump back into the segment with the almost-identical cousins GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado. They come in extended- and crew-cab models. Our Canyon tester was the crew cab with a short box (bed) and four-wheel drive.

    Appearance: It resembles a smaller-scale version of GMC's full-size Sierra. But that doesn't mean it's like the compact pickups some of us remember. Lyra parked the 4WD Canyon next to her husband's 2012 F-150 and its hood sat as high as that of the full-size Ford pickup. Our Canyon had the standard rear built-in corner bumper steps for easy bed access. Our tester, the top SLT trim, had the optional sprayed-on bed liner ($475) and vinyl tonneau cover ($615). Best of all, our tester wore the premium Emerald Green Metallic ($495), which was set off by 18-inch polished cast-aluminum wheels....

    Contrast stitching accents the dash, which has a small bin over the center console.
  8. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Cadillac CTS 2.0T Luxury

    Autos

    With its edgy design, the Cadillac CTS cuts an impressive figure in the luxury midsize class, which is dominated by the heavyweights from Germany and Japan. We drove the sedan in its base trim and came away thinking that Cadillac is on the right road to attracting new buyers.

    Appearance: First thing we noticed is that the beautiful Black Diamond Tricoat ($995) shimmers in the sun. It makes the car look more expensive than its price. Cadillac seeks to shed its image as granddad's luxury car and its new design vocabulary bears it out: It's long, lean and angular. The creases in the sloping hood flow down into its large chrome-trimmed grille. That grille, wide and almost minimalist, has been redesigned, as has its Cadillac emblem; gone is the traditional "wreath and crest." The most distinctive feature of the CTS is its high-intensity headlights that sweep back to a sharp point, and vertical LED running lights that extend down to the front air intakes. A striking package. ...

    The cabin has high quality materials, including exotic wood trim.
  9. Byron Buxton, us and the . . .PARADOX OF POTENTIAL

    I came to this spot with honest intentions of writing solely about a 21-year-old baseball phenom, but it's clear I'm instead in one of those dangerous places — fueled by pleasure reading, that rarest of things these days — where larger thoughts are intersecting with smaller ones.

    If you came here looking for a dissection of a swing, a talk about OPS or even just a fawning hero's welcome ... sorry, this is not that place....

    The Minnesota Twins called up speedy Byron Buxton, 21, on Sunday. The centerfielder has been called a “triple machine” and was the majors’ top prospect, according to Baseball Prospectus. On Monday night, Buxton got his first big-league hit — a triple.
  10. TO MOVE MOUNTAINS

    In this photo taken Friday, June 5, 2015, Iranian motocross rider Behnaz Shafiei takes a break during a training session at a racetrack near the village of Baraghan, some 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of the capital Tehran, Iran. "When two days pass and I do not ride my motorcycle, I get really ill. Even the thought of not having a motorcycle some day gives me an awful feeling," Shafiei said. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) VAH310
  11. GOOD? BAD? A REPORT CARD

    Tony Romo — Tough Guy

    For those with long memories, it's not exactly Joe Namath taking on Pete Rozelle and retiring rather than being forced to sell his interest in a New York nightclub. But Romo had some strong words for the league for the first time ever after the NFL threw the brakes on his fantasy football convention in Las Vegas. It's an interesting cause for Romo to adopt, given that he has been a strong fantasy quarterback longer than he has been a truly successful one. But maybe he just understands the NFL doesn't want to suspend both quarterbacks for a Patriots-Cowboys game Oct. 11.

    LeBron haters: You're wasting your time...

    We’re sure Tom and Gisele don’t care. Getty Images
  12. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Audi RS7

    Autos

    Pity the person who has to classify Audi's A7 and its performance variants — in this case, the RS7. The sedan's fluid design resembles a coupe. Then there's the fact that it's also a hatchback and a performance car. We call it awesome.

    Appearance: A sedan never looked so good, with a coupe-like raked roof that culminates in a rear hatch. In the past, Audi has called its design a "fastback." The single-frame of the RS models carries a honeycomb mesh grille. Our tester had the optional Dynamic Edition package that included carbon-fiber accents (mirrors, splitter, diffuser) and 21-inch five-blade-design wheels with Tornado Red brake calipers and sport exhaust with black finishers. Our RS7 also came in nardo gray, which is a clear-coated matte the color of concrete. As Lyra rightly says: "Not every car would look good in this color, but the RS7 owns it." Indeed. The RS7 oozes attitude....

    The cabin has a clean, intuitive layout.
  13. Confessions ofa LeBron hater ...

    After LeBron James dragged the Cavaliers to another NBA Finals win with another outlandish performance Tuesday night, plenty of people were inquiring about the LeBron James haters. What would the haters say now, his supporters asked? Why were they so quiet? Surely they would at last admit defeat?

    But here's the thing: There are at least two kinds of LeBron James "haters." There are those who "hate" in the modern, Internetty sense, which is to say they are critics more than haters. They criticize James for not being Michael Jordan, for not being clutch enough, for taking too many shots, for not hitting enough game-winning baskets, for not winning enough Finals. I suppose these are the "haters" everyone was wondering about Tuesday night, and yeah, it wasn't a great night for them, what with James going for 40 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and two blocks in another win....

    LeBron James took over in Tuesday night’s 96-91 Cavs win in Game 3.
  14. The Daily Drivers: 2015 Lexus NX 300h

    Autos

    When we drove the new Lexus NX 200t compact SUV, we fell in love with its aggressive look in the F Sport trim. The NX carried the automaker's first turbocharged engine and was one of our favorites of 2014. Now, we've driven the hybrid version, the NX 300h, which is not quite as sexy but has the same edgy design. And the mileage? Pretty good.

    Appearance: It carries the Lexus chrome-trimmed spindle grille, which has horizontal slats instead of the sharper-looking black mesh of the F Sport trim. The grille is flanked by upswept angular headlights underscored by bold LED check-mark running lights. The NX's high belt line, chiseled angles and bold sheet-metal flourishes make it a head-turner, although some have called it too sci-fi. (We obviously disagree.) The fender flares are trimmed with black cladding, which is the only visual blemish. Our tester's paint was Obsidian, a rich look that contrasted nicely with the chrome trim and optional 18-inch double-spoke wheels....

    Profile of the 2015 Lexus NX 300h. [LYRA SOLOCHEK   |   Times]
  15. JALEN DREAMS OF RIO

    Get Florida State star Jalen Ramsey talking about his other sport, the one he squeezes in between football and does about as well as anybody in the country, and it's apparent that the long jump isn't just a way for the defensive back to stay in shape.

    Ramsey started as a freshman for a national championship football team, and he was the best defensive player on a playoff team as a sophomore last season. He is a future high NFL draft pick with All-Pro potential, but before he gets there he wants to compete in the Rio Olympics. ...

    Ramsey: “I have football dreams (and) I have track dreams.”