On Motoring Monday we’re looking at what’s new for 2016 in mid-size sedans, including the redesigned Nissan Altima, Toyota Avalon, Honda Accord, and Volkswagen Passat. And in our Reality Check, Ford has a publicity stunt for their new Super Duty truck’s that’s sky high.

What’s New: 2016 Nissan Altima

While it was all-new just three years ago, Nissan gave their mid-size Altima sedan a significant boost in style, features and performance for 2016.

Styling is revised up front and at the rear with the latest design themes found in the Murano and Maxima, particularly the V-motion grille. This comes with a new front fascia, fenders and more angular headlights.

Out back is a new fascia as well to go along with new tail lights with a boomerang shape. The car you see here is also a new trim grade called SR, a lower priced sporty variant which slots in just above the base S model.

Available with both the 2.5 liter four-cylinder and the 3.5 liter V6, the SR trim gets visuals like smoked headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights and a rear spoiler. Special 18-inch alloy wheels and a more aggressive suspension come as well.

The interior gets some updates too starting with a new center console and center stack design which Nissan says is easier to live with. A standard 5-inch color display audio system now comes with back-up camera on lower trims, with a 7-inch top-end system with navigation on upper trims.

Engines remain the same sizes, but a lot of tweaking brings an extra mile per gallon for the 2.5 liter four-cylinder which should achieve now 39 mpg highway. Fuel economy for the 270 horsepower V6 should get up to 32 mpg highway.

All this is afforded by the now venerable constantly variable transmission people either love or hate. This year it gets a new calibration to make it feel even more like a traditional transmission that shifts. That’s great and all, but why not just give us one.

That last bit there was my personal opinion, I’m not a fan of the CVT. At any rate, the new 2016 Nissan Altima comes to dealers soon. Pricing will be announced closer to that time.

What’s New: 2016 Honda Accord

The 2016 Honda Accord sedans are now arriving at dealerships with a number of updates in styling, feature content, and new cutting edge techno goodies.

So, what’s new here? Well we start with a new front fascia which has sharper creases, deeper air inlets and some sexy new LED fog lights. A new aluminum hood with sharper lines gives more character which is accented by a larger and more prominent grille.

At the rear of the Accord are new LED taillights and a more aggressive rear fascia that mimics some of the design cues from up front. New wheel designs come across the lineup including the first ever 19-inch wheels on the top end Sport and Touring models.

The interior gets a healthy dose of new technologies that include and upgraded 7-inch display audio system which can now be had with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The new smart phone paring platforms will offer an expanded array of features and connectivity.

Honda also upgraded the cabin with available 60/40 split folding rear seats, though it’s still amazing to me that such a feature could be new in this day and age, let alone still an option. There’s also heated rear seats, rain-sensing wipers, and parking assist available.

Chassis upgrades include a comprehensive stiffening by adding more structural bracing up front and at the rear, upgraded dampers all around, and a re-tuned electric power steering rack. All of these should bring a sharper and more solid driving character.

Engines are essentially the same as 2015, except the hybrids have been discontinued. The 2016 Honda Accord sedan starts at just over $22,000 for the four-cylinder and just over $30,000 for a V6.

What’s New: 2016 Volkswagen Passat

In the heat of the EPA emissions scandal, Volkswagen unveiled their freshly updated and feature fortified 2016 Passat sedans in Brooklyn, New York. And yes, it’s supposed to offer a TDI engine.

The American built 2016 Volkswagen Passat most notably shows off new front fascia and grille design along with new available LED headlamps which brings a more premium and sporting look, all framed by a more sculpted hood.

And for the first time, an R-Line version of the Passat will be available which features unique rocker panels, a more aggressive front bumper, a sporting rear diffuser, and 19-inch alloy wheels shod with 235/40 ZR rated tires.

The new design flows inside where updated dash trims hope to allay past criticisms of a cheap and austere interior. Volkswagen says higher quality materials will bring a decidedly more upscale feel.

Technology is upgraded as well with a now standard MIB II infotainment system which finally has USB connectivity. A small detail, but Volkswagen was one of the last hold outs here. Connectivity also now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well.

Powertrains are essentially carryover starting with a standard 1.8-liter turbo-charged TSI gasoline four-cylinder. The most powerful option is a 3.6 liter VR6 with a class competitive 280 horsepower. Both come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

And, the 2.0 liter TDI clean diesel Volkswagen says remains on the list for 2016, though I suspect it will not be immediately available when the car goes on sale soon. But when the Passat does arrive, it will start at $22,440 for the 1.8T gasoline model.

Now you’ll note I didn’t dive deep into the matter of the EPA vs Volkswagen here. We’ve reported quite a bit on this topic this week, and if you want see those reports you’ll find the links to them below in the information section.

What’s New: 2016 Toyota Avalon

Taking the safe route of offering the predictable and proven, Toyota’s new 2016 Avalon full-sized sedan gets revised styling and new features this year to keep it fresh but doesn’t push the envelope.

In truth however the current generation Avalon did stretch the bounds of bold style when it arrived in 2012. Toyota sought after younger buyers with a more bold style, and they have arguably succeeded. So this mid-life refresh is a mild one.

What you see is what you get, starting with a reshaped lower front grille, which is lower to the ground and tapers in more at the top. A new turn signal design integrated into the fascia actually replaces the fog lights.

At the rear, styling changes are limited to a new set of LED tail lamps and a new piece of chrome trim on the bumper. Wheel designs are updated across the line however. And the one you’re looking at here is the Touring model.

It gets its own visuals like 18-inch dark gray alloy wheels, a more aggressive front fascia, redesigned LED headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights.

This one gets a new suspension for 2016 which offers drivers a more responsive ride and handling character over the boulevard ride of the other trims. Here, steering is sharper, the ride firmer, and dampers a bit less compliant.

Top trim grades also get new features inside like revised premium woodgrain trims and accent stitching. There’s a new standard 7-inch Entune audio navigation infotainment system and the instrument cluster now has tire-specific readouts for the tire pressures.

Powertrains are carried over from the current Avalon which include the smooth 3.5 liter V6 which comes with a six-speed automatic, as well as the Hybrid which has a 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine and electric motors.

The 2016 Toyota Avalon will be arriving in dealerships soon, with pricing to be announced closer to that time. Though it’s not expected to change much.

Test Drive: 2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

While the 2016 Toyota Avalon is still a short time away, this week we test drove the 2015 Avalon Hybrid, one of the few choices out there in the 40-mpg full-size sedan class.

Rated at up to 40 mpg, the Avalon Hybrid is a rare commodity in its size class. You can look at the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid or Ford Fusion Hybrid, but they are technically a bit smaller. You can also compare the Volkswagen Passat TDI, but that a dark horse for many right now – and it’s currently off the market.

The Avalon Hybrid uses Toyota’s proven and well trusted Hybrid Synergy Drive which is also found in the Camry Hybrid and now the RAV4 Hybrid among others. It delivers up 200 horsepower when both the gas engine and electric motors are combined.

It rides and drives much like a full-sized American sedan, even though it is made by a Japanese brand. It’s comfortable and quiet, though its chassis can get a bit harsh when the pavement gets less than smooth.

In our week with the Avalon Hybrid, we achieved 39 mpg on regular gasoline with the air-conditioner on at all times. Not bad for a full size sedan who’s interior space compares to vintage Lincoln Town Car.

For our full review of the 2015 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, click on the link below in the information section or log onto our website at TestDriven.TV.

Reality Check: 2017 Ford Super Duty Frame Test

In our Reality Check, those crazy truck guys are at it again with huge cranes and circus acts to show us how tough they actually are.

Ford unveiled their new F-Series Super Duty pickups at the Texas State Fair this week. The roll-out of their new aluminum bodied super tanker starts now and will tour the country over the coming year until they go on sale – which is about a year from now.

In the meantime they’re gonna be showing us how tough the new trucks are, and central to the story is the all-new frames which boast up to 95% high strength steel and are up to 24 times stiffer than before.

To illustrate this awesomeness, they put together this grandiose demonstration where they carefully string together an erector set of sorts, which suspends several Ford pickups in mid-air from a single Super Duty Frame.

There’s no doubt the spectacle was carefully engineered with cable saddles and bracing such that there’s no way the frame could fail the show. But, while this really looks cool it really doesn’t prove a darn thing other than Ford has lots of money set aside to market this new truck.

Sorry to be a skeptic, but this is no different than a truck climbing cinder block mountains, pulling the space shuttle, or it’s competitors from being stuck in mud. It’s all a dog and pony show to throw red meat to the masses.

Money Shot

Now it’s time for our Money Shot where we take the best photo from this week’s automotive news and we show it to ya!

In the midst of dieselgate and the roll out of new large scale pickups, Toyota is quietly touring the land and showing off their next big idea, the three-wheeled all-electric i-Road personal mobility device. Device? Well I guess you can’t really call it a car, can you?