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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: 2017 Corolla iM

    Autos

    Have you already forgotten Scion, the youth-oriented brand that was axed last year? Well, some of its models live on, rebadged for 2017 as Toyotas by the parent company. One of those models, the iM hatchback, is now the Corolla iM. We liked it as a stylish entry-level car with a fun-to-drive feel, and that hasn't changed much despite the new badging. The Corolla iM is offered in only one trim level, but it is a fairly well-equipped one that includes alloy wheels, rearview camera, front collision warning and a console touchscreen on the stylish dash. Of the few options offered, we'd recommend the Charge Package that includes two USB connections ($189). The iM has a 138-horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that is adequate in daily city driving but you may find lacking in get-up-and-go, especially on highway merges and passing. Choosing the manual transmission over the available CVT helps the acceleration somewhat and is our preference. If you are looking to further stand out? Try the Spring Green Metallic paint....

    The front seats have some side bolstering. The armrest is a bit small, though. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  2. The Daily Drivers: 2016 Toyota Prius Four

    Autos

    It's always interesting to see automotive trends evolve. Take hybrid-car design. When the first Honda Insight and later the Toyota Prius debuted, they featured designs that hinted vaguely at futurism and carried a look-at-me-I'm-different aesthetic that seemed to be the automotive version of the running shoes with individual toes.

    Fast forward several years and most hybrids have been assimilated into already existing models or their looks have been toned down. Then there's the Toyota Prius, which if not doubling down on those "I'm-different" hybrid roots, is not abandoning it. We drove a 2016 Prius Four in Sea Glass Pearl and it carries over to the new model year. The Four is the second-from-the-top trim of the Prius models. This fuel sipper gets you 54 miles per gallon in the city, 50 on the highway. ...

      [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  3. Let us knowWho do you think had the best season in the history of sports? Email us at tbteditors@tampabay.com or tweet your pick to @tbtnewspaper.

    Sports

    Rickey Henderson, 1982

    From a statistics standpoint, averaging a triple-double is not the most accurate measure of dominance. There are better ways to quantify value than big round numbers, and MVP voters understood that in 1962 when they honored Bill Russell instead of Oscar Robertson.

    But averaging a triple-double, both then and now, is almost unbelievably cool. And if you want to find a statistical feat as difficult and as cool as what Westbrook did this season, you'd be hard-pressed to outdo Rickey Henderson's 1982 season for the Oakland A's....

    Former NHL hockey players, from left, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Mario Lemieux speak during a news conference prior to an NHL 100 ceremony, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Los Angeles. The NHL 100 celebrates the 100 Greatest NHL Players and honors 100 years of NHL hockey. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
  4. Some officials (not all) confront abuse

    Sports

    It must have been uncomfortable for Rick Adams, chief of Paralympic sports for the United States Olympic Committee, to sit between two gymnasts during the congressional hearing about sexual abuse Tuesday.

    To his right, Jamie Dantzscher started crying during her testimony. She described how she was molested by the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor Larry Nassar when she was a teenager....

  5. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

    Autos

    The Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe is a classic muscle car. Sure it has the luxury Mercedes-Benz heritage and pedigree. The C Class — similar in size to a Mustang or Camaro — has been redesigned for 2017. And like the Ford or Chevy, it shares a large engine, small two-door body and rear-wheel drive.

    Appearance: In this, the C63 doesn't have the sometimes overwrought design of a traditional muscle car. Instead, its lines — the rounded roof, creased fenders and pillarless windows — flow naturally yet connote power. Lyra calls it "breathtakingly beautiful," and the Mercedes-Benz fan who approached her to get a better look also thought so. Our car was helped by its deep Brilliant Blue Metallic paint, a gorgeous hue set off by cross-spoke black wheels with red brake calipers. Up front, the "diamond" grille carries a huge M-B badge, perhaps the most ostentatious thing about the car....

    The large badge stands out against the black grille. LED running lights accent the headlights. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  6. The Daily Drivers Update: 2017 Toyota 86

    Autos

    When Toyota ended its youth-oriented Scion division, one of the models it kept was one of our favorites, the minimalist FR-S sports car. It's now called the Toyota 86, which is what it was sold as globally. The car, a joint venture with Subaru that badges it as the BRZ, pairs rear-wheel drive, skinny tires and a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder that makes 205 horsepower when paired — as it should be — with the available six-speed manual transmission which gets 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 highway. (Automatic is also available, with a slightly better mpg of 24/32.) That's all such an intoxicating cocktail that the enthusiast may not mind those modest power numbers or even the equally modest cabin. That's because if you're the type of driver who likes do his or her own shifting, find twisty roads a challenge and even get the rear end loose on occasion, then the 86 is a pure joy. We noticed a slightly more aggressive exterior — a larger air intake, Toyota 86 badging, streamline bumpers and LED head- and taillights. Mechanically, the changes include new shock tuning and spring rate, differential gear ratio change, and engine tuning that bumps up the torque and horsepower. Peter thought the gear-shift action to be slightly stiffer. Lyra thought the car drove a bit stiffer. All that really matters is the fun is still there, as is the enthusiast-on-a-budget price point of less than $30,000....

    The no-frills analog gauges glow a sporty red. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  7. Review: Disney's Rivers of Light show turns on the H2-oh!

    Blog

    Last spring, Disney’s Animal Kingdom teased the media with a brief preview of Rivers of Light, a theatrical show  that carried the promise — and the burden — of being a signature event designed to keep guests into the park’s new evening hours. Disney anticipated a summer opening.

    What it didn’t anticipate was delay after unexplained — technical issues? — delay. Cue 2017: Finally, Friday night, came the official premiere of Rivers of Light, and we  generally liked what Disney calls a “visual mix of water, fire, nature and light.” Well, that description is certainly accurate....

    After many delays, Disney's Rivers of Light nighttime show finally opened at Animal Kingdom this week.
  8. next seasonConnecticut is planning to suit up Azurá Stevens, a 6-6 transfer from Duke who many believe would have been its best player this season. The Huskies will also add Megan Walker, rated by some as the nation's No. 1 recruit. They return six of seven rotation players.— New York Times

    Sports

    You don't know what to do with yourself, do you? Spring training isn't here yet, and who cares about Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jersey, and golfers are still limbering up, and the NBA won't be decided until June. That leaves college basketball, which is sort of a mess with everyone but Gonzaga taking multiple losses. Then there are the UConn women, whom you wouldn't even think of looking at. Right? Which makes you a dope, for choosing boredom over excellence....

    Former and current players pose for a team photo after Monday’s 66-55 home win over South Carolina. “I hope we can ... move onto the next thing which is more important in the big scheme of things for these players anyway,” coach Geno Auriemma said, referring to the NCAA Tournament.
AP
  9. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

    Autos

    The Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe is a classic muscle car. Sure it has the luxury Mercedes-Benz heritage and pedigree. The C Class — similar in size to a Mustang or Camaro — has been redesigned for 2017. And like the Ford or Chevy, it shares a large engine, small two-door body and rear-wheel drive.

    Appearance: In this, the C63 doesn't have the sometimes overwrought design of a traditional muscle car. Instead, its lines — the rounded roof, creased fenders and pillarless windows — flow naturally yet connote power. Lyra calls it "breathtakingly beautiful," and the Mercedes-Benz fan who approached her to get a better look also thought so. Our car was helped by its deep Brilliant Blue Metallic paint, a gorgeous hue set off by cross-spoke black wheels with red brake calipers. Up front, the "diamond" grille carries a huge M-B badge, perhaps the most ostentatious thing about the car....

    [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  10. Required reading for Super Bowl Sunday

    Sports

    If you're among those who watch precisely one NFL game each year, yet want to sound like a real fan at Sunday's party, we've got you covered with Super Bowl facts, talking points and some nerd statistics:

    The TV team

    Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are in the booth for Fox TV while Tampa's Erin Andrews and Chris Myers are on the sidelines.

    The site...

    FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2016, file photo, Fox Sports broadcaster Erin Andrews, left, speaks with Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones after the second of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 33-32. Andrews revealed in an interview with Sports Illustrated's MMQB that was published online on Jan. 24, 2017, that she battled cervical cancer during the NFL season. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File) PAPM104
  11. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Audi A4 sedan

    Autos

    We really liked the Audi A4 and here's why: It's a car that satisfies our appreciation of an everyday sedan that packs luxury (but not too much), performance (but not too much) and a premium price tag (but not too much). Simply put, the redesigned-for-2017 A4 is what we think a small luxury sedan should be.

    Appearance: The A4 is handsome and well-proportioned for a small-to-midsize sedan. It's a well-designed car — all the creases are in the right place — that doesn't scream "look at me." (Think evolution from the previous model, not revolution.) The only showy features are the distinctive design of the xenon/LED headlights and the optional 10-spoke Dynamic-design 18-inch wheels ($800)....

    The digital screen can be configured to make dominant the navigation screen.  2017 Audi A4 sedan. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  12. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Kia Forte S

    Autos

    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 instrument panel is simple, with white-on-black gauges and a small readout in the middle.   [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  13. The Daily Drivers: 2017 Jaguar XE 35t AWD Prestige

    Autos

    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 shifter is a dial which rises out of the console when the engine is started. [LYRA SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  14. SportsTalk: The Lightning players' off-ice rituals

    Sports

    PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 08:  A Rutgers fan reacts after the Michigan Wolverines scored in the second half at High Point Solutions Stadium on October 8, 2016 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) 668994551
  15. SportsTalk: Transgender hockey player hears his 'name said right'

    Human Interest

    NAMES-IN-THE-NEWS EDITION

    HARRISON BROWNE

    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."...

    National Women's Hockey League player Harrison Browne of the Buffalo Beauts recently became the first openly transgender player in U.S. pro team sports. AP PHOTO