The last time I drove an F-150 was over ten years ago and it was a 1999 fleet truck with a bench seat and column shifter. I think its safe to say, the F-150 has come a long way since then. There’s almost no comparison between the trucks as Ford moved away from many of those heritage details. This is by no means a bad thing, the new 2021 F-150 will please a variety of folks looking for a truck. However, if you want to take the 14th Generation F-150 to the next level and reinvigorate that original feel, please check out this entire article.
The current 14th Generation F-150 is a surprising truck to anyone who hasn’t spent much time in one. The word "truck" doesn’t even come to mind when driving it. It drives like a large SUV, or in my opinion – a town car. The vehicle (non-Raptor) comes with an independent double wishbone with coil-over shock and stamped lower control arm in the front. The rear is equipped with leaf springs and shocks. Driving on a paved road, the F-150 is smooth as butter. On a gravel or dirt road, the ride changes enough to let you know you’re on a different surface but not enough to sacrifice your comfort. The tire/suspension combination not only create a smooth ride, but also a quiet one. What's not to like?
While all this sounds great, we on the other hand, would prefer a truckier ride. Something that feels stiffer, more rigid, and more connected. We researched several options, considered our budget, and our goals. Where did we arrive? The ROUSH Fox 2.0 Suspension Kit. At it’s $1378 price point, 2” of front leveling, and the fact that its made in USA – the decision was easy. We paired the suspension with 17”x8.5” Method Race Wheels 316s and Falken Wildpeak A/T3W LT315/70/17 (35”) tires.
Installation of the suspension was straight forward. Our buddies at Ace Performance Tire knocked it out in about three hours with minimal sweat. The only tweak necessary was the lower spring perch being adjusted 5/8” of an inch down on the strut (towards the lower control arm) to meet the changes in specs for the 14th Gen. To do this, a spanner wrench was required (surprisingly not included in the ROUSH kit). ROUSH specifically notes this on their website and we agree that it does result in a smooth ride. However, we will be deviating and raising ours a tad...read below as for why.
Once the wheels and tires were mounted, our easy install got a little complicated. Upon inspecting the vehicle it immediately became apparent that the front tires were rubbing. We knew from the beginning that we'd be asking a lot of the wheel wells. But, with 37's on our 2-Door Bronco and 35's on the 4-Door, Raptor, and Gladiator, we couldn't keep ourselves from trying. A smaller tire size would've definitely gotten the job done just fine without the self-inflicted drama but we're not a 'just fine' kind of group. So, with a cut off/grinder saw in hand, trimming began. The biggest problem area was behind the front bumper near the crash bar on the driver's side. So, another two hours went by making sure rubbing was resolved. Afterwards, the truck headed into the next garage bay for a quick alignment and we were on our way.
We were beyond pleased with our first drive in the F-150 after the suspension upgrade. The ride is stiffer and noticeably less of a “boat” around turns. It definitely boosts your confidence in capability. In fact, wheels and tires aside, this suspension should be on every F-150. Its that much better. And if we're being completely honest, its what we would have expected from Ford with this latest generation.
With 4.5" backspacing and zero offset from our Method 316s the F-150 gains a wider and more aggressive stance. Doesn't hurt having 35" tires with a beefer tread and thicker side wall too. Overall, the takeaway is a truck that looks great, drives great, and most importantly - makes you want to spend more time in it.
Still, a few questions remain. How will the suspension hold up to our future plans? Can the stock leaf springs support the next set of exterior modifications? Will we have enough articulation with the stock upper control arms for mild overlanding? Will we regret not splurging on King Off-Road Racing Performance OEM Shocks?
Stay tuned as we continue the journey!
1 Week Update:
Since taking the F-150 home and the suspension settling out, rubbing continues on the driver's side. When installing the ROUSH Fox 2.0 suspension we modified the lower spring perch per the instructions to 5/8" of an inch down the strut. However, we think that by raising it back up we can resolve the rubbing issues. This may result in a firmer ride than desired but it's worth a try before cutting off more bits of the truck.