Will the Bronco square off with the Jeep Wrangler?

After being in production for over three decades, the Bronco went down in the history books as one of the most hardcore SUVs that mankind had ever seen. The SUV was developed as an off-roader to take on the Jeep CJ-5, and it succeeded to a large extent. However, the company decided to put down the model in 1996 to make way for a newer lineup. Purists and enthusiasts hoped the model would make a comeback, and after 20 years, we finally got to know the Bronco is indeed being reincarnated with the original namebadge! Even after this announcement, we have painfully waited for years to hear more about the upcoming Bronco. Rumours and speculations kept pouring in, but finally, Ford announced the all-new Bronco is set for a 2020 Spring launch. Will the new Bronco set the world on fire, or will it turn out to be a lacklustre product relying on the original product’s credibility?

  • 2020 Ford Bronco
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6(Est.)
  • Transmission:
    10-speed automatic (Est.)
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    325 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
    375 (Est.)
  • Energy:
    Direct Injection, turbocharged
  • Displacement:
    2.7 L (Est.)
  • 0-60 time:
    7.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    120 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; 2WD, 4WD (Est.)
  • Price:
    30000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    8/10

Exterior

  • Will come in two-door and four-door avatar
  • Original boxy looks retained
  • Will ride on big tires
  • Tailgate-mounted spare tire
  • Removable roof and doors
  • Wing mirrors will be mounted on the A-pillars
2020 Ford Bronco
- image 667327

The new Bronco is still kept under wraps. Ford recently revealed a trailer announcing the 2020 Spring launch of the SUV. Instead of talking about the new Bronco, the 30-odd second video takes a trip down the memory lane. Although we are a little disappointed that the company didn’t give any glimpses of the new Bronco, the video shows us the previous models and the model’s name in script. However, the American automaker revealed an image sometime back wherein the SUV is hiding under a veil. The side profile shows that hardcore off-roader will retain its original boxy looks and will come with huge tires as well as a tailgate-mounted spare tire.

A group of Ford’s dealers were invited to a special event by the company sometime back and were shown the two-door Bronco prototype. Oh, if it wasn’t clear until now, Ford will be launching the Bronco in the two-door, as well as a four-door avatar. While a two-door Bronco was inevitable, I believe the idea of a four-door Bronco comes from the fact that the Wrangler’s sales have seen a significant jump since the four-door version was launched. The new Bronco will have a removable top as well as removable doors. Ford has filed patents for the latter and is trying to make the process as simple as possible so that Bronco owners can take them out with ease. In fact, the owners will be able to see store the doors inside the SUV instead of leaving them out in the garage. Another good thing here, unlike the Wrangler, is that the wing mirrors will be mounted on the A-pillar instead of the doors so that they stay on the frame even when the doors are taken out!

Another rumor suggested that the Bronco could come with 33-inch off-road tires, probably wrapped around 17-inch wheels. Ford has filed a number of patents for the Bronco. These could a mix of trims offered on the SUV, and packages that include off-road equipment, lift-kits, etc. Here is the list of names that the company has filed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

  • Bronco Outer Banks
  • Bronco Wildtrak
  • Bronco Adrenaline
  • Badlands
  • Scout/Bronco Scout
  • Bronco Sport
  • Maverick
  • Rock Monster

Interior

2015 Ford Ranger High Resolution Interior
- image 623348

Global Ford Ranger pictured

Since the Bronco will be based on the Ranger, we expected interior to share a certain resemblance. We currently don’t have an official idea about the U.S.-spec Ranger’s interior, though it will probably look similar to the global Ford Ranger that’s been in showrooms around the world for years. The U.S. Ranger will likely receive a slew of updates and design changes over the current global truck, so that is what we’d guess the Bronco’s interior to look like.

A center-mounted shifter with a rotary dial for the 4WD is probable, as well as large screens for the infotainment and driver information displays. Expect keyless access and push-button starting to be standard.

Rear-seat accommodations will be dependent on whether the Bronco comes in two- or four-door configurations. Either way, expect it to seat five passengers. The rear seat will likely split 60/40 style for hauling cargo. We’d love to see a drop-down tailgate and a fold-up hatch outback. That would definitely separate it from the current crop of crossovers.

Drivetrain

2019 Ford Ranger Drivetrain
- image 679224
Under the hood you’ll find a 2.3-liter
No word on specs yet... BUT...

The F-150’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost pictured

  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost mill will be the standard offering
  • 270 Horsepower
  • 310 Pound-feet of torque
  • Optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine
  • Could be mated to a Seven-speed manual transmission
  • It will be offered in a V-8 avatar as well
  • High possibility of a hybrid engine

The all-new Ford Bronco will be based on the new Ranger. Although the SUV will be manufactured in the U.S. at the Michigan plant with the new Ranger, it is developed in Australia. The Bronco will share the new Ranger’s T6 platform that had been developed at Ford’s Asia-Pacific Engineering Center in Victoria. There’s no confirmation on this, but all points lead to this theory. Since the Bronco will share its underpinnings with the Ranger and that truck is powered by the 2.3-liter EcoBoost mill, we can be sure of it making its way in here as well. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine makes 270 ponies and 310 pound-feet of twist.

Off-Road.com reported that they spotted a listing on a Canadian Tire’s website that featured a 2021 model year "Ford truck" named Bronco with engine size listed at "4-140 2.3L DOHC." Considering that the Jeep Wrangler comes with a six-cylinder engine, Ford could also offer the 2.7-liter, V-6 EcoBoost mill that produces 325 ponies and 375 pound-feet of twist. How many mills will Ford offer on the Bronco? Going by Ford’s standards and the king’s treatment that the Bronco is receiving, you will be left spoilt for choices. There will be at least a couple more mills that will power the SUV.

Speaking of the 2.3-liter mill, it features a twin-scroll turbocharger that extracts exhaust gas from two pairs of cylinders in alternating sequence in order to enhance pulse energy and reduce lag. It also features an Auto Start-Stop function that shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and restarts it immediately when the brake is released. This feature improves fuel economy. Some people find this extremely annoying, but it’s a small sacrifice to make it a “greener and cleaner” car. Not to mention, this directly falls in place with the hybrid news we’ve heard about. Although the company did not mention this explicitly, the Bronco could come in a hybrid avatar. On an earlier occasion, Ford mentioned the Bronco as a “part of Ford’s new strategy that includes going all-in on hybrids to bring more capability to customers of our most popular and high-volume vehicles.”

We’ve mentioned it on numerous occasions previously that Ford has aimed the Bronco directly at the Jeep Wrangler. The ‘270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque’ power figures from the 2.3-liter EcoBoost are squarely aimed at the Wrangler’s 2.0-liter version, albeit slightly better. Jeep Wrangler’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine churns out 270 horses and 295 pound-feet. Pound for pound, the Bronco holds the baton here for its extra 15 pound-feet of torque, but a lot will depend on factors like the weight, drive setup, and other drivetrain components.

This EcoBoost engine will also take on the Wrangler’s 3.0-liter, V-6 Pentastar mill. The “seen in almost all FCA products” mill develops 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The extra horses cannot make up for the significant 50-pound-foot deficit. And, when you’re off-roading or taking off from a standstill, the extra torque will matter more than the 15 fewer horses.

Ford has also answered the prayers of the purists. The Blue Oval will be equipping a manual transmission in the new Bronco! The off-roader is expected to come with a third pedal and a stick shift. This shouldn’t come as surprise because the Bronco’s primary rival, the Jeep Wrangler, is also offered with a manual gearbox on the Rubicon trim. According to Jalopnik, Ford has asked Getrag to build a manual transmission for the new Bronco. Dubbed the MT 88, it will most likely be paired to the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine and may come with seven gears. Getrag has been working on a new manual gearbox since 2015, codenamed the 6/7MTI550. According to the transmission company’s website, the new gearbox is rated for 405 pound-feet of torque and is capable of use in all-wheel-drive configurations. If this news of the new Ford Bronco getting a seven-speed manual gearbox does indeed come true, it will also join a very small group of cars, like the Porsche 911 and the Chevrolet Corvette, that currently offers the same amount of ratios and three pedals.

Apart from this, Ford will also be introducing ‘Raptor’ on the Bronco. It gets better. This Bronco could feature a V-8 mill! But, given that the 5.0-liter, V-8 Coyote will be retired soon, the new 7.3-liter, V-8 mill will certainly not feature in here, and neither will the 5.2-liter, V-8 from the Mustang Shelby GT500. We are not sure how this will play out since the $850 million allotted for the Bronco cannot cover the research and development costs of a new engine.

Price

Pricing is a far-fetched thing to be talking about at this point, but we expect the Bronco to be highly competitive with the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. Prices for the Wrangler have been growing steadily, making it more costly than the cheap thrill it started as in the late 1940s. The current Wrangler JK Unlimited starts just under $28,000. Once the new generation debuts, that price will probably crest north by a couple of hundred bucks. In short, the Bronco’s price will probably range between $30,000 to $45,000, depending on options and trim levels.

Availability wise, the Bronco won’t happen until the following year after the Ranger pickup. That puts the SUV as a 2020 model, hitting dealership showrooms in late 2019.

Competition

Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 669921

Obviously the Wrangler will be the Bronco’s main competition – at least if Ford makes it the body-on-frame, truck-based SUV it deserves to be. The Wrangler is due for a generation change for the 2017 or 2018 model year, and there are plenty of rumors surrounding that as well. It’s likely the next-gen Wrangler will come standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder, while the 3.6-liter V-6 is optional. Also optional will be the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6. It will likely be slotted as the range-topping engine.

Live axles and a body-on-frame design will happen for the new Wrangler, rumored to be called the JL. It will have a more aerodynamic grille and windshield design, helping it achieve better fuel economy. Nevertheless, the Wrangler will still carry its iconic Jeep styling made famous on the battlefields of WWII.

Read our full review on the upcoming Jeep Wrangler here.

Chevrolet Blazer/Trailblazer

2016 Chevrolet Trailblazer Premier Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 670943

Okay, stay with me now. Chevrolet continues to make a body-on-frame SUV called the Trailblazer for various markets around the world. It’s based on the global version of the Colorado mid-size pickup and features many of the underpinnings and powertrains. How awesome would it be for Chevrolet to resurrect either the Blazer or Trailblazer name with a U.S.-spec Colorado-based SUV that would take on the Bronco? Exciting, right? At this point, that’s nothing but a “what it,” so don’t get your hopes up.

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Blazer/Trailblazer here.

Final Thoughts

2020 Ford Bronco
- image 667328

The upcoming Bronco has created all the necessary hype. We’re sure that we’ll see a lot more information and leaks surfacing the internet till the SUV is officially launched. From what we know already, the Bronco has enough to conquer the segment with ease. It holds the baton in almost all the departments when compared to the Jeep Wrangler; be it the drivetrain, stuff like removable doors, etc. The Wrangler is a customization-friendly SUV and comes with a lot of off-road and optional accessories on offer, thanks to the bible, Mopar. Turns out, Ford got that covered as well. The Blue Oval has teamed up with Yakima, an aftermarket company, to develop accessories for the Bronco. We saw glimpses of this partnership at the 2019 SEMA show where many concepts featured the company’s products, and Yakima even had its own Ranger concept there. Jeep better be prepared for this onslaught because Ford has announced its intentions loud and clear, and it is not here to take the second chair.

  • Leave it
    • V-8 engine does not look likely at this point
    • Is Yakima big enough to take on Mopar?
    • Absolutely no information about the interior yet
Mark McNabb
About the author

Related Articles

The 2021 Ford Bronco Might Debut Sooner Than Expected

Breaking: The 2020 Ford Bronco Could Debut at the Detroit Auto Show

Here’s What the 2021 Ford Bronco Could Look Like if It Was Inspired More By the Original

The New Ford Bronco R Couldn’t Handle the Baja 1000

1968 Ford Bronco Wagon by Jay Leno, Ford Performance, LGE-CTS, and SEMA Garage

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: