An aluminum pickup? You bet.
You might have seen the ads for the new Ford F-150, and you might be skeptical about an aluminum truck powered by a V-6 engine. But don’t write it off so quickly.
It’s simple physics. A heavier vehicle won’t do as well on fuel as a lighter one. Likewise, a bigger engine will use fuel faster than a smaller one will.
But those of us who hunt and fish often have a lot of toys we like to take to the woods with us. We have campers, ATV trailers, and all the other goodies we need to haul. We might be able to get all that stuff up into the hills with a midsize truck, or maybe even a compact, but we like the extra space and extra power we get with a full-size truck.
So until now, the only way to get better fuel economy was to get a smaller engine in that truck. But those heavy trucks, and all the heavy stuff we cart around, just don’t do so well with anything smaller than a V-8. And that’s where Ford stepped in. They replaced the steel body on the F-150 with an aluminum version. That cuts up to 700 pounds off the weight of the truck. You can get it with a V-8, but there’s also a V-6 EcoBoost option. That’s what the one I drove had in it, and I admit, I was skeptical. But I drove it out on the prairie on an antelope hunt, and I took it up into the mountains on some forest roads. I started to forget it wasn’t a V-8.
To really see how much power it had, I hooked it up to the horse trailer. The trailer I used was only about half the 12,000 pounds the 3.5-liter engine is rated to tow, but it was easy to see that it would have no problem with that kind of weight. It yanked that trailer around like it weighed a hundred pounds, rather than 5,500.
This is the first half-ton that’s made me start to think I don’t absolutely have to have a three-quarter or one-ton truck.