In the future, unique suspension systems used today likely will find wider acceptance and offer better control and more flexibility. We expect more air suspension options and magnetic ride technology to provide better fuel economy, load-carrying capability, comfort and handling. It wouldn't surprise us if the computer systems on new vehicles will be better able to predict what's likely to happen next on the road, possibly leaning into a turn at the first steering input to make a big truck feel more like midsize car.
Active anti-roll-bar systems already found in Range Rover SUVs, luxury sedans, and Toyota's and Lexus' active suspensions could improve highway and trail performance for small and large pickups. The Toyota 4Runner SUV's cross-linked shock system is an impressive active suspension system that works as well in four-wheel drive as it does when entering a 240-degree curving freeway on-ramp.
We also predict that as sales of luxury-model pickups increase, we'll be more likely to see more canyon-carving trucks with independent rear suspensions. The new 2017 Ridgeline will have coil rear springs and an IRS, and is anticipated to have a payload of 1,600 pounds; likewise, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris midsize commercial van (also with coil springs and IRS) has a minimum payload rating of 1,800 pounds, more than many half-ton pickups.
Bushing technology also is likely to improve, perhaps adding a self-adjusting or computer-controlled aspect to them, allowing them to quiet engine vibration or wheel chatter while allowing precise steering. Less vibration means quieter and less-stressed parts and pieces.
And we expect broader application of magnet ride systems, perhaps even grouped with towing packages where damper behavior would be modified simply by engaging Tow/Haul mode or when sensing heavier loads.
Front suspensions may adopt a dual ball-joint lower coupling and have been used on everything from VW Passats to BMW SUVs and the new Lexus LS. This arrangement pays big dividends in bump absorption, handling and directional stability, and leaves more room for axle shafts and bigger brakes to move freely and stay cool.
Further down the road, we expect tuning of active suspension pieces like air springs, self-adjusting shocks or active anti-roll bars to link with cameras and navigation data to prime the suspension before it hits a bump or comes to a sharp bend, making the suspension more predictive than reactive. No matter what happens, we're confident we'll be getting more sophisticated and smarter suspensions to keep our pickups under control.