It's coming soon, and we're excited.
The original Ford Bronco went out of production in 1996, yet it remains a hallowed name in American culture. Since announcing that the Ford Bronco name was making a comeback at the 2017 Detroit Motor Show, we've had to be incredibly patient.
Ford has done a great job keeping the Bronco under wraps while letting out just enough teasers to keep us interested. There have been some leaks and plenty of rumors, too to give us a good idea of what to expect when the all-new SUV breaks cover.
Entirely new vehicles built using body-on-frame chassis is a rarity these days. On off-road and vehicles used to haul heavy loads, a body-on-frame design is more resistant to twisting forces with vehicles able to take abuse for longer before showing cracks. Bolting on aftermarket parts is also a lot easier.
By revealing the new Bronco would use a body-on-frame chassis, Ford wanted us to know it was building a sturdy hauler and off-roader rather than just another crossover.
The current Ford Ranger and Bronco share a shortened version of the carmaker's T6 platform. The Ranger also uses Ford's 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four engine. People expecting a V8 will likely be disappointed, at least initially, but the Ecoboost in the Ranger isn't a wimp. It makes 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, but Ford has left a lot of power on the table and could increase it for the Bronco.
It will also have the 10-speed automatic transmission, but rumor has it there will be a seven-speed manual option paired to Ford's 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. In the F-150, that engine offers 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.
The new Bronco will compete with Jeep when it hits the market, and Ford is looking to beat the competition with a hybrid variant. There's no word on exactly what that will look like, but the hybrid Explorer model uses a 3.3-liter, naturally aspirated V6 that's matched to a 35-kilowatt electric motor powered by a 1.5-kilowatt-hour battery. Currently, that drivetrain delivers 318 hp and 322 lb-ft torque. Curiously, the hybrid Explorer is only rated to tow 5,000 lbs while the gas engined version can tow up to 5,600 pounds.
Off-road trucks are big business at the moment, although they are mostly option packages and trim levels. Ford won't mind going toe-to-toe with the Jeep Gladiator, and a dedicated truck version of the Bronco is reported to be arriving in 2024. Also, the high-speed dune-busting Raptor truck has become a good seller and even better halo truck for Ford. Having a brother for the Ford Raptor with a different flavor makes a lot of sense.
The four-door Jeep is the big seller, but the shorter wheelbase two-door version is cheaper. A shorter wheelbase can also be preferable off-road for tight areas and gives a better break-over angle for rock crawling. The downside is that a short wheelbase doesn't help with traction on steep inclines, and a longer wheelbase is more stable across rocky terrain.
A two-door version of the Bronco doesn't mean a shorter wheelbase, though, and it'll likely be a pricy option. The only evidence so far comes from dealers saying that Ford showed a two-door Bronco prototype at an event for them.
Reports have it that the Bronco will have an option for a removable hardtop and doors that can be stored in the cargo area. For convenience, the mirrors will be mounted to the A-pillars rather than the doors so you can still use them with the doors removed. There have been a few patents filed by Ford to support this, although what the final solution will look like remains to be seen. Options could include a cloth roof that extends out back to make a tent area or a mesh roof to allow to flow while blocking out bright sunlight.
Ford released a video on social media showing the Bronco's logo and confirmed the SUV would premiere in spring 2020. Most likely at the 2020 New York Motor Show in early April. Ford has reportedly told dealers it will then hit showrooms late in 2020. There's no pricing information yet, but if Ford is serious about competing with Jeep, it should be a little under $30,000 to get into. Curiously, the full-size Bronco is set to arrive after the Baby Bronco. Which reminds us...
The Baby Bronco looks cool, but it's a crossover based on the Ford Escape platform, albeit with a more rugged persona. It will fit a different demographic than the fill-size Bronco, and likely appeal more to the youthful adventure market like the Jeep Renegade. It won't be called the Baby Bronco, thankfully, and names that have been touted include Bronco Adventurer, Bronco Scout, Bronco Sport, and Bronco Maverick. We're hoping for the more old-school Scout name and praying it won't get the beat-to-death Sport moniker.
Back in November, Ford showed off a Baja race truck called the Bronco R then promptly entered it in the Baja 1000. It didn't finish the race, but the grueling event took plenty of casualties. It did, however, give us a great idea of what the production model might look like as Ford says it takes inspiration from the road-going model. We also hope that Ford commits to campaigning the Bronco R in off-road racing and brings a Raptor-like version to market.
While most of the engineering and development of the Bronco is reportedly taking place in Australia alongside the related Ford Ranger, the Bronco is set to be built in Wayne, Michigan. Early reports suggested neither the Bronco or Baby Bronco would be sold in right-hand drive markets but, since then, Ford has applied for a trademark on the Bronco name in Europe. That doesn't mean it will happen, but Europeans could end up with something to get excited about later.