2017 Ford Super DutyEnlarge Photo
When it introduced the current-generation F-150 half-ton pickup truck for the 2015 model year, one of the major points Ford touted was fuel economy.
It claimed the light-duty F-150's aluminum body saved over 700 pounds compared to previous steel body, helping to improve efficiency.
When it came time to redesign the Super Duty line of heavy-duty trucks, Ford also decided to use a similar aluminum body.
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But rather than using aluminum to lower overall vehicle weight, as in the F-150, Ford mostly used it to compensate for weight increases in the Super Duty's steel frame and other places.
In this case, fuel economy took a backseat to towing capacity and other considerations.
That's not surprising, because while automakers are paying more attention to the efficiency of half-ton trucks, they still don't have to report the fuel economy of heavy-duty pickups.
2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HDEnlarge Photo
So while fuel economy may be a good reason to buy a Ford Super Duty over, say, a Chevy Silverado HD—or vice versa—you'll never know which one has higher ratings.
That may have made sense when the current rules were drafted decades ago, but now it may be time for manufacturers to start reporting heavy-duty truck fuel economy, argues Jalopnik (in somewhat saltier language than we might use).
Models like the Ford F-250, F-350, and F-450, Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and 3500 HD, Ram 2500 and 3500, and Nissan Titan XD all fall under a different classification than more conventional light-duty pickup trucks.
The smaller trucks are regulated in the same way as passenger cars and SUVs: their makers must submit fuel-economy information to the Environmental Protection Agency, and post that information on window stickers.
But that rule does not apply to trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 8,500 pounds—defined as the total maximum weight of the truck and its cargo.
When these standards were first drafted, decades ago, it was inconceivable that individual consumers would buy such large vehicles for any kind of personal use.
2017 Ram 2500 Off-RoadEnlarge Photo
The heavier-duty pickup trucks then were robust but basic machines for tradesmen and specific work applications that required their capabilities, including tasks like road repair and electric-utility maintenance.
Times change, though.
At the press launch for the 2017 Super Duty in Colorado, Ford was quick to note the truck's popularity among commercial buyers, and said the new model was designed with those buyers in mind.
MORE: Pickup Truck Fuel Economy For 2016: Diesels Take Top Three Spots (Nov 2015)
But a Ford representative also described the Super Duty as a "luxury car with a pickup box."
Indeed, the Super Duty can be ordered with many features one would expect to find on a luxury car, including massaging leather seats and a panoramic glass roof.
It's part of a trend toward more upscale trucks, as manufacturers try to cater to buyers that view them as more than just work vehicles.