Thanks to spy photos posted on Truck Trend, the world can get a look at some changes coming to the next generation Ford F-150. Don’t let the current-generation F-150 Raptor bodywork fool you, as this pickup is certainly a development mule for the next-gen truck that will begin to launch in the 2021 model year. While we won’t know if this Ford is being used to test parts for the standard truck or the off-road focused F-150 Raptor, it is clear in the photos that this truck’s rear suspension is heavily camouflaged.
If it is indeed a next-gen Raptor mule, we may not see it for a few years after the 2021 F-150 launches. Remember, the current-generation F-150 Raptor didn’t launch until the 2017 model year, while the standard F-150 it’s based on came to market in the 2015 model year.
Even with the extra metal hanging out in the rear fenders, some changes to the suspension can still be seen. Gone is the rear leaf spring set-up, which has been used on the F-series since its introduction in 1948. Despite the camouflage, a panhard bar and pivot bolt are clearly visible, meaning that the next-gen F-150 could utilize a five-link rear suspension. The benefits of a well designed five-link include improved suspension travel, underbody clearance, and articulation when compared to traditional leaf springs. These performance improvements would benefit the F-150 regardless of the trim, though they particularly make sense for the desert racing inspired F-150 Raptor. The addition of coil springs will also improve the ride quality of the truck, which FCA has already done with the Ram 1500.
This suspension change by Ford could be directly related to the Ram 1500’s rising success over the past few years. Ram surpassed Chevrolet in the U.S. truck sales charts this past year to take over the second place spot, further encroaching on the best-selling F-150. We reported on the fact that Ford is also increasing its infotainment screen by at least 50 percent compared to the current 8-inch unit when the redesigned model launches for the 2021 model year, to better compete with the 12-inch Uconnect unit available in the Ram trucks. Regardless of the reasoning behind updating the F-150’s rear suspension, buyers are certain to welcome the benefits a five-link rear end will bring.