FoMoCo’s take on the Jeep Renegade

In March 2018, Ford unveiled its plans for the next two years, which includes many new models and a shift toward crossovers in the U.S. The bigger news includes dropping most cars in favor of SUVs, a hybrid version of the F-150 truck, and a revival of the iconic Bronco. The latter will be joined by a smaller sibling with similar boxy cues. A baby Bronco!

Described as a vehicle "designed to win a growing number of people who love getting away and spending time outdoors with their families and friends," the compact SUV was partially revealed in a teaser photo. And based on what we can see, it’s aimed directly at Jeep. Specifically, while the new-generation Bronco will go against the all-popular Wrangler, the smaller crossover will take on the Renegade. There’s no official name for it yet, and details remain a mystery, but it could roll out for the 2021 model year.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming "baby Bronco."

Exterior

  • Boxy design
  • Aimed at the Renegate
  • Round, LED headlamps
  • Rugged looks
  • Muscular fenders
  • Compact size
2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco"
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The first thing that catches the eye is the boxy shape, which is rather unusual for a modern vehicle

The rendering is very shadowy with only a few details visible, but it’s enough to get an idea as to how this crossover will look. Of course, there’s a big chance that this is a rendering of a concept vehicle that will preview the "baby Bronco," but it shouldn’t look radically different than the actual thing.

The first thing that catches the eye is the boxy shape. This is rather unusual for a modern vehicle, as most automakers are designing their crossovers with aerodynamics and sportiness in mind. Jeep is one of the very few exceptions from this rule, with the Wrangler and Renegade looking as boxy as their ancestors.

The teaser reminds me a bit of the Bronco II, a compact SUV that replaced the iconic, larger Bronco in 1984. The roof section is just as boxy, with only the muscular fenders setting it apart from crossovers built until the late 1990s. While the rear fascia isn’t visible yet, the front end reveals some of its cues. The fascia is also boxy and imposing, despite the small size.

2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco"
- image 791044
The teaser reminds me a bit of the Bronco II, a compact SUV that replaced the iconic, larger Bronco in 1984

There’s a wide grille that runs from one headlamp to the other and big "Ford" lettering in the middle, like that seen on the company’s pickup trucks. The round headlamps are simple, feature LED technology, and have been pushed toward the sides. The bumper looks spartan with a simple grille with thick surround in the center and possibly LED foglamps on each side. There’s also thick cladding on the fenders, a tall ride height, and a rack on the roof.

The SUV is definitely aimed at customers who love spending time outdoors as it looks capable of tackling off-road terrain as well as hauling stuff on the roof. And, while it’s a tribute to the old Bronco II as far as shape goes, it also feels modern thanks to its rounded fenders, LED lights, and muscular engine hood.

Interior

  • New design language?
  • Modern features
  • Relatively big trunk
  • New technology
2017 Ford Escape High Resolution Interior
- image 655887
Needless to say, the "baby Bronco" should be able to give the Renegade a run for its money

It’s difficult to say what the "baby Bronco" will look like inside the cabin with the production model at least a couple of years away. Ford could introduce a new design language by then and it goes without saying that it will have new technology available as well.

Needless to say, the "baby Bronco" should be able to give the Renegade a run for its money. This means it has to provide seating for five adults in comfort and combine practicality with premium features, at least in the more expensive trims. The Renegade is usually praised for being well-equipped and well-trimmed, and it’s roomy too with legroom and headroom for rear-seat passengers rated at 40.5 and 35.1 inches.

Ford also needs to at least match the 45.3-cubic-feet trunk of the Renegade. The body layout should help Ford offer a roomy trunk section suitable for long trips with plenty of luggage.

Drivetrain

  • Based on Ford Focus
  • Four-cylinder engines
  • Gasoline and diesel
  • All-wheel-drive system
  • Locking differential
2017 Ford Escape
- image 791046
I’m tempted to believe that the "baby Bronco" will get the same engines as the Escape

As a compact SUV, the "baby Bronco" will probably get a range of small-displacement engines. Likely to arrive about the same time the Escape / Kuga will be redesigned and will grow a bit bigger, the new SUV will likely take its place just above the EcoSport. That’s why I’m tempted to believe that the "baby Bronco" will get the same engines as the Escape.

In the U.S., the latter is now available with a choice of three four-cylinder gasoline mills. The base model uses a 2.5-liter unit that cranks out 168 horsepower and 170 pound-feet, while the mid-range 1.5-liter EcoBoost delivers 180 horses and 185 pound-feet. Finally, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost is good for an impressive 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of twist. The 2.5-liter mill will be discontinued soon but expect the other two four-bangers to make it into the boxy "baby Bronco" with certain changes.

The SUV will require at least a light-duty all-wheel-drive system and a locking center differential for extra traction

In Europe, where the Escape is sold as the Kuga, customers also get to choose between two diesel engines. There’s a 1.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 120 PS (118 horsepower) and a 2.0-liter four-pot that cranks out either 150 or 180 PS (148 or 178 horsepower). While it won’t be offered in the U.S., a diesel engine is mandatory in Europe where the Renegade also uses oil burners.

While output won’t be an issue given Ford’s current engines, the "baby Bronco" also needs off-road capability. The SUV will require at least a light-duty all-wheel-drive system with proper software, as well as a locking center differential for extra traction. It should also have independent suspension at both axles. The six-speed automatic used in the Escape could be fitted in the "baby Bronco" as well, at least in the United States.

Just like the Escape, the "baby Bronco" will be built on the same underpinnings as the Ford Focus, so expect some of the "hardware" to be carried over.

Pricing

2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco"
- image 791047

Assuming it will slot between the EcoSport and the Escape size-wise, the "baby Bronco" should also bridge the gap in terms of pricing. The EcoSport retails from $19,995 and the Escape from $23,940, so it’s safe to say that the new crossover will cost at least $20,000 in base trim. However, such a sticker will make it more expensive than its competitor, the Renegade, which comes in at $18,445.

Competition

Jeep Renegade

2015 Jeep Renegade High Resolution Exterior
- image 544583

Launched in 2014 as Jeep’s smallest crossover to date, the Renegade is heavily based on the Fiat 500X and built alongside its Italian counterpart in Italy. Sporty a boxy design that reminds of small SUVs from the 1970s, the Renegade is pretty much a more affordable version of the Wrangler without a soft-top option and not quite as capable on the unbeaten path. The Renegade is available with a multitude of engines globally. In the U.S., you can choose between a 1.4-liter four-cylinder rated at 160 horsepower and a 2.4-liter Tigershark unit that cranks out 180 horses. In other markets, Jeep offers a less powerful 1.4-liter with 138 horsepower. Diesel options include a 1.6-liter MultiJet2 with 118 horsepower and a larger, 2.0-liter MultiJet2 with 138 or 168 horses. Jeep has sold more than half a million Renegades globally as of August 2018, with half of them delivered in the United States. The Renegade is quite affordable in base trim, priced from $18,445, but it gets more expensive as you move up to the better-equipped models. The Limited, for instance, retails from $25,795, while the Trailhawk fetches $26,945 before options. The crossover is set to receive a mid-cycle update for the 2019 model year.

Read our full review of the 2018 Jeep Renegade.

Conclusion

2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco"
- image 790825

With six SUVs available in the United States, does Ford need yet another crossover? Judging by numbers only, I’m tempted to say no. But if we factor in the way this market has been expanding in recent years, a new crossover is starting to make sense. Granted, with both the Bronco and "baby Bronco" in showrooms, Ford will have no fewer than eight SUVs in the lineup, but the latter has the excuse that it will go against the Jeep Renegade. The Fiat-based crossover is quite popular in both the U.S. and Europe, and Ford definitely wants a share of that segment. I’m no fan of SUVs, but we definitely need more boxy haulers like the Renegade and the Wrangler, so I’m all in favor of a shrunken Bronco.

  • Leave it
    • * Could be pricey
    • * The Renegade is hard to beat

Further Reading

2020 Ford Bronco Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 705394

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Ford Bronco.

2005 Ford Bronco
- image 32543

Read our full review on the 2005 Ford Bronco.

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Read more Ford news.

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