Multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) methods are commonly used for weight reduction in automotive industry. The design variables for MDO are often selected based on critical parts, which usually are close to optimal after many design iterations. As a result, the real weight reduction benefit may not be fully realized due to poor selection of design parameters. In addition, most applications require running design of experiments (DOE) to explore the full design space and to build response surfaces for optimization. This approach is often too costly if too many design variables are simultaneously considered. In this research, an alternative approach to address these issues is presented. It includes two optimization phases. The first phase uses critical parts for design iterations and the second phase use non-critical for weight reduction. A vehicle body structure is used to demonstrate the proposed strategy to show its effectiveness.