And soon the new SUV will return the favor.
When Ford announced the return of the Bronco back in 2017, it was fairly clear even then that it would require the Ford Ranger midsize pickup truck's T6 platform. Because that architecture dates back to 2012, it had to be significantly upgraded for the Bronco's long list of necessary capabilities. But without the Ranger, the Bronco's revival would have been a far more difficult and costly endeavor.
Speaking to Ford Authority, Bronco brand boss Mark Grueber acknowledged two things were required to make the SUV happen: a platform and a plant with the necessary capacity. "So when we moved focus to the Michigan Assembly Plant and decided to bring Ranger back, that was the enabler, because another vehicle was needed to fill up the plant, and we knew that a proper Bronco could be built off that platform," he said.
Grueber also mentioned a 2001 Bronco concept vehicle built strictly for internal study purposes. Despite having a solid design base to start from, the big problem a lack of "feasibility in terms of platform or plant capacity."
The previous generation Ranger was still on sale at the time but its platform dated back to 1983. It was also the same setup that underpinned the Bronco II, built from 1984 to 1990. The Ranger's revival for 2018 gave Ford the right opportunity to turn it into an SUV. Because its T6 platform was aging fast, Ford decided to enact a series of major upgrades for the Bronco's use.
And now, thanks to the Bronco, the next-generation Ranger will ride on that upgraded and more off-road capable platform. Expect it to debut for the 2023 model year. Leading up to Ford's 2017 Bronco revival announcement, there were some rumors claiming an all-new platform would be developed for the SUV, but that was never considered by the Blue Oval. Designing, engineering, and testing a new setup from scratch is extremely expensive and, furthermore, made no sense for one model.
Updating T6 not only gave Ford the Bronco, but also another Ranger generation. We think that's time and money well spent.