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IIHS: Ford F-150's aluminum body costs more to repair

In matching tests, the aluminum F-150 had more extensive damage and cost 26 percent more to fix than the steel-bodied 2014 model.

Stepping out of its traditional focus on safety tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crashed the new aluminum-bodied Ford F-150 to gauge repair costs.

The institute ran crash tests at 10 mph with the new F-150 crew cab and its steel-bodied predecessor from the 2014 model year. Engineers started by crashing the front left corner of the aluminum pickup into the rear right corner of the steel pickup, then flipped the test and ran the steel pickup into the rear of the aluminum model.

The aluminum pickup experienced "more extensive damage" in both scenarios, resulting in total repair costs 26 percent higher. The premium was associated with additional labor to fix the front end, and higher parts costs for the rear-end damage.

"From a simple bolt-on parts replacement to a more-involved removal and installation of entire body panels, fixing the aluminum F-150 is more expensive than repairing a steel-body F-150," said IIHS research chief David Zuby.

IIHS took a particularly close look at the new F-150, which represents the first mass-market vehicle with an all-aluminum body. The crew-cab package earned Top Safety Pick Honors, but the extended-cab model received a 'marginal' rating in the small-overlap test.

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