A unique opportunity arose to make a direct comparison of aluminum, sheet molding compound (SMC) and steel using a common hood design. In considering all possible material combinations of inner and outer panels, it was discovered that some of the combinations were incompatible due to material properties. Only the compatible material combinations were considered. Three different joining techniques - welding, bonding and bonded hem flanging - were evaluated. The cost, weight and structural performance of the chosen hood material combinations were established. Areas of further development were identified, including design optimization for specific material combinations.