The all-new 2020 Ford Explorer rides on a new platform that will be used by the manufacturer for a number of upcoming models, including the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. Ford’s large three-row SUV is approximately 200 pounds (91 kilograms) lighter than its predecessor and up to 36 percent torsionally stiffer but that doesn’t mean it’s uses all-aluminum architecture. In fact, Ford toyed with the idea for an all-aluminum body but eventually decided it will use a “mixed materials” strategy instead.

“Weight was a factor in every decision we made,” the Explorer’s chief engineer, Bill Gubing, recently told Detroit Free Press. “We looked at every part.”

The automaker’s decision comes mainly to the fact that an all-aluminum construction would have raised the vehicle’s final price to customers. In addition, a smart platform made of a mix of steel, aluminum, magnesium, and plastic is practically nearly as good as an all-aluminum one in terms of stiffness, especially considering today’s lighter and stronger products of the steel industry. Also, the efficient engines, including the hybrid powertrain, boost fuel economy without the need of an expensive all-aluminum construction.

“The Explorer is the most use of mixed materials ever by Ford,” Gubing added. “We considered all-aluminum.”

The Detroit Free Press report details some of the new Explorer’s smart solutions for lower noise and vibration levels, as well as high stiffness and lower weight. The panel that separates the cabin from the engine compartment, for example, is dimpled “like a golf ball” for keeping the interior quiet and vibration-free. On the other hand, small pieces of steel were cut from the chassis to reduce weight. As another weight-saving measure, the cooling radiator is held in place by magnesium and plastic.

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