Ford said Friday that its new aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup, which will be built at the Claycomo assembly plant next year, will get up to 26 mpg on the highway, making it the most fuel-efficient, gas-powered, full-size pickup.
The Ram truck is the current leader among pickups, getting up to 25 mpg on the highway with a gas engine.
Fuel economy is a key data point for the new F-150, which is arriving at dealerships this month. Ford shaved 700 pounds off the weight of the truck by switching the body from steel to lightweight aluminum, a dramatic change for the best-selling vehicle in the U.S.
The F-150 will get 26 mpg on the highway with a 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, which Ford believes will account for 28 percent of sales of the new truck. The fuel economy is 13 percent better than the outgoing truck’s 23 mpg. Ford had predicted an improvement of 5 to 20 percent.
The new truck is Ford’s response to customers’ requests for a more fuel-efficient and nimbler pickup. The company hopes the advantages outweigh customer doubts about the durability of aluminum or potential repair costs for the pricier metal.
It’s a big risk. So far this year, one out of every three vehicles Ford sold in the U.S. was an F-Series pickup.
The automaker recently started building the aluminum-bodied vehicle at its Rouge plant in Michigan. Next year, the company will convert its F-150 factory at Claycomo to handle the new truck.
When running, the Rouge and the Kansas City plants will have the capacity to produce more than 700,000 trucks annually. In September, the company announced it would add 1,200 jobs at the Claycomo plant.
The new F-150 will be going on sale as gasoline sells for an average of $2.84 a gallon in the U.S., the lowest price in four years. Ford has said that pickup owners, many who use the truck to run a business, welcome improved fuel economy no matter the price of gasoline.
Ram’s diesel-powered pickup gets even better fuel economy, at 28 mpg, but starts at $30,215. The F-150 starts at $25,420 with a $495 premium for the EcoBoost engine, a popular option. Ford isn’t offering a diesel version of the F-150.
Ford also provided the fuel-economy breakdown for other engine types:
▪ The base F-150 with 3.5-liter V6 engine gets 25 mpg on the highway, or 20 mpg in combined city/highway driving. This version is expected to be 16 percent of sales of the new truck.
▪ The 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 gets 24 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg city/highway combined. Ford expects this version to make up 28 percent of sales.
▪ The 5-liter V8 gets should get 22 mpg on the highway, and 18 mpg city/highway combined.