Ford truck owners have long been saddled with an ultimatum: Choose fuel efficiency or choose durability. But you can’t have both.
Smaller, lighter pickups that deliver better fuel efficiency just don’t have enough raw power. And their stronger, bulkier counterparts are just gas guzzlers.
But for the 2015 model year, Ford figured out a way to solve this conundrum. The answer involved finding a material that was just as strong as steel but lighter in weight to increase fuel economy. What kind of material did Ford settle on?
That’s right. When the 2015 Ford F-150 hit the streets in late 2014 and drivers put the pedal to the metal, that metal was aluminum. By using aluminum instead of steel, the weight of the truck plummeted by a full 700 pounds. And just like that, fuel efficiency skyrocketed from 17 city / 23 highway up to 19 city / 26 highway. But at what cost?
Aluminum Holds Up To Questions
Better fuel efficiency aside, Ford pickup lovers understandably had some concerns about the switch from steel to aluminum.
Can aluminum really hold up to the demands of a pickup?
With what Ford has done with the aluminum, yes. Most of the F-150’s body is made from a military-grade, heat-treatable 6,000-series alloy aluminum. This type of aluminum has better ding and dent resistance than steel, so the new Ford trucks for sale are actually better equipped for the day-to-day grind than its predecessors.
And because it’s so much lighter, Ford can add three times the thickness with aluminum before reaching an equal weight to steel.
To prove its durability, Ford entered one of its aluminum trucks in the Baja 1,000, a grueling off-road race where vehicles are pushed to their physical limits. The aluminum body Ford truck finished the race unscathed.
But what about performance?
While you might think decreased weight would also result in decreased performance, that wasn’t the case with the 2015 Ford F-150. The truck exhibited greater towing capacity, an improved power-to-weight ratio for quicker acceleration, and better braking and handling. In fact, the aluminum F-150 goes from 0 to 60 even faster than the zippy Ford Fusion. Other notable performance upgrades for the aluminum Ford truck models include:
- Horsepower went from 302 in the base engine of the 2014 steel version of the F-150 to 325 in the standard engine of the 2015 aluminum model.
- Torque also made a big leap when the F-150 went from steel (278 lb.-ft in the base engine) to aluminum (375 lb.-ft.)
- The steel F-150 registered a standard towing capacity of 6,700 pounds, a number that jumped considerably to 7,600 in the aluminum model.
Won’t the cost of body work be more expensive with aluminum?
For one, because this aluminum is actually stronger than steel, there won’t be as great of a need for repair work. And two, the rivets used to secure the aluminum panels are easier to remove and replace than the ones used for steel. While steel often requires welding, the aluminum panels can simply be removed, repaired, and replaced.
Early reports indicated that Ford dealerships and even independent body shops were having no trouble acquiring or installing parts or dealing with insurance companies for damaged aluminum on new Ford trucks.
Which Ford trucks are aluminum?
You can ride easy in an aluminum body in a 2015 or 2016 Ford F-150 along with the 2017 Raptor and Super Duty trucks.
Despite being one of the world’s leading auto manufacturers, Ford is never satisfied and is always pushing for more innovation. The move to an aluminum body is just one more reason why Ford trucks are better and one more way Ford is evolving right along with its drivers.
Ford was founded in a steel town. Now it’s moving on up.