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New F-150: Better fuel economy, but not top in trucks

It won't get 30 miles on a gallon of gas, but the new, lighter Ford F-150 will offer substantially better fuel economy, according to official estimates released by the automaker Friday.

Ford said the most fuel-efficient version of the 2015 F-150, featuring a 2.7-liter EcoBoost 4x2 engine, will get up to 26 mpg on the highway, 19 mpg in the city and 22 mpg in combined driving.

By comparison, the most fuel-efficient version of the current F-150 is rated to deliver 23 mpg on the highway, 17 mpg in the city and 19 mpg combined.

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Overall, depending on the engine variation, the new F-150s will be advertised as being 5 to 29 percent more fuel-efficient than the models they are replacing.

New 2015 Ford F-150 trucks are driven to the lot after coming off the assembly line at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant November 11, 2014 in Dearborn, Michigan.
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New 2015 Ford F-150 trucks are driven to the lot after coming off the assembly line at the Ford Dearborn Truck Plant November 11, 2014 in Dearborn, Michigan.

Still, you can't call the new F-Series the most fuel-efficient pickup truck on the market. That distinction goes to Chrysler's 2015 Ram 3-liter EcoDiesel V6 4x2, which runs on diesel fuel and promises to deliver up to 28 mpg on the highway, 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg in combined driving.

"The mileage improvement for the new F-150s is pretty darn significant," said Kelley Blue Book's Jack Nerad. "But keep in mind trucks being 20 percent or 25 percent more fuel efficient will not have as much impact on buyer attitudes with gas prices falling as much as they have recently."

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The new full-sized pickups from Ford are 700 pounds lighter than the F-Series models that are being replaced. Much of that weight reduction is due to Ford switching from heavier steel panels to lighter, high-strength aluminum panels.

Ever since Ford announced plans to build the new aluminum F-150, there's been plenty of speculation about how much more fuel efficient the new pickups would be. Some in the industry even suggested the pickup would get close to 30 mpg on the highway.

The new F-series models roll into showrooms next month.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.