The leaf spring suspension has practically been around since humanity invented the wheel due to its effectiveness and simplicity. For a variety of reasons, the tried-and-true suspension still exists on pickup trucks today, such as the Ford F-150 and its off-road sibling the F-150 Raptor, but recent spy photographs and reports suggest that the Raptor might be ditching leaf springs for a more modern coil spring setup.
Photos published by Automotive News suggest that the Raptor caught driving around Dearborn, Michigan doesn't sport the traditional pickup truck setup. The early prototype can be seen wearing the bodywork from the current truck given the fact that an all-new F-150 isn't expected yet, however, the leaf springs are noticeably absent from the test mule.
Does this mean that leaf springs are gone on the F-150? Not quite. Globally, the Ranger Raptor (aka the baby Raptor) has a coil spring suspension and not leaf springs, but the rest of the Ranger lineup retains the leaf springs. Ford decided that for the purpose of making a better and faster off-road performer, coil spring suspensions were the way to go. They even have a weight advantage over the more simple but heavier leaf springs.
The Ranger Raptor was developed after the current-generation full-size Raptor, so it's quite possible that Ford looked at the performance of Ranger Raptor and decided that it should investigate and possibly apply to the full-size truck. This means that the truck photographed could be nothing more than a prototype testing a "what if" scenario, or it could actually something more serious than that.
While Ram trucks have used coil spring suspensions for years, it's a lot less likely for Ford to change this for its entire F-150 lineup now. Ford has touted improved stability when towing and better load-leveling with leaf springs. Given that the Raptor's towing and payload capacities are lower than the F-150's, the off-road truck would be a great candidate for this new setup rather than its more mainstream siblings.
Even though we're expecting to see a new F-150 in 2020, the Raptor will most likely trail the regular truck by a year or two.
We reached out to Ford for comment but a spokesperson declined to speculate on future product.