2021 Ford F-150 Suspension Deep Dive

Ford didn’t draw attention to them, but there are many subtle-but-significant changes

I don’t need to tell you that any all-new redesign of the Ford F-150 is a big deal. But last time around the talk was centered on its then-new aluminum body, and this time all the attention is being paid to the new hybrid powertrain, the folding shifter and the big touchscreen. That stuff is all well and good, but what about the suspension that makes this truck work?

Fear not, friends. We’re about to take a good look at the underpinnings of the brand-new 2021 Ford F-150. And it’s a very representative one, too. This truck is the volume-selling XLT model with a crew cab. It has four-wheel drive, a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, and its suspension has the standard GVWR — which is 6,600 pounds in this cab configuration. It’s fitted with the XLT Sport Appearance package, which normally swaps out the standard 17-inch wheels for an 18-inch setup, but this truck has been further “upgraded” to 20-inch wheels and tires, which is the kind of thing I tend to scoff at on a 4×4. Yes, you can lump me in with the “save the sidewalls” crowd.

Even though there are no marquee changes to the suspension of the 2021 Ford F-150, there are some interesting and thoughtful tweaks worth examining. Though we touched on them a bit in our F-150 review, this is called a Suspension Deep Dive for a reason. Let’s take off the wheels, break out the colorful arrows and see what Ford’s engineers managed to change without much fanfare.

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Ford F-150 spy photos suggest the truck could get magnetic paint

That would make it a lot easier for business owners to put temporary signs on their trucks

Ford’s decision to switch the majority of the F-150‘s stamped body parts from steel to aluminum had a significant, positive impact on weight and therefore its fuel economy numbers and the truck’s ability to haul and tow. On the other hand, aluminum can be more difficult and more expensive for body shops to repair. And since aluminum isn’t magnetic, it also means small business owners need to find creative ways to hang signs and advertisements on their doors and tailgates.

Recently, reports circulated that Ford was working on a solution to the signage problem, and a new set of spy photos may in fact indicate that a fix is in the works. We can’t say for certain how these black signs are affixed to this white and gray F-150 — it’s certainly possible that these signs have sticky backs and the truck still isn’t magnetic — but one theory is that Ford will use some sort of magnetic paint or primer. Such products are available for home use to make walls that can support magnets, but we’re not aware of any automotive use up to this point.

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Jeep Gladiator getting the Wrangler’s 4xe plug-in hybrid drivetrain

Electrification will reach the Grand Cherokee, too

Jeep confirmed it will offer the Gladiator with an electrified powertrain in the not-too-distant future. It stressed that plug-in hybrid technology will continue to spread across its range, both in the United States and abroad, and it ruled out releasing a turbodiesel-powered version of the new Grand Cherokee introduced online in 2021.

Company boss Christian Meunier answered “for sure” when asked whether the Gladiator will sooner or later be electrified by Australian publication Go Auto. He didn’t specifically point to the plug-in hybrid 4xe powertrain available on the Wrangler, but that’s very likely what he was referring to. After all, the Gladiator is closely related to and built on the same assembly line as the Wrangler. Integrating the system into the truck shouldn’t present significant engineering challenges, and it would allow Jeep to leverage the benefits of economies of scale.

In the Wrangler, the 4xe powertrain consists of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor integrated into an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a 17-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Jeep pegs the system’s total output at 375 horsepower and a stout 470 pound-feet of torque.

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