FoMoCo’s take on the Jeep Renegade

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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. In November 2018, photos of the actual vehicle leaked onto the web following a Ford dealer meeting. 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 by 2020.

Update 09/26/2019: Our spy photographers finally caught a real-life look at the all-new Ford Baby Bronco – possibly known as the Bronco II, if Ford decides to revive that name – so check out the special “Spy Shots” section below to see the new shots and learn more about it.

Spy Shots

September 26, 2019 – First Sighting of the Ford Baby Bronco

2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco" Exterior Spyshots
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2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco" Exterior Spyshots
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We’re finally getting a real look at a Baby Bronco prototype, but there’s something weird about it. This mini-SUV has been confirmed to debut in 2020, yet from the look of things, it’s still deep in the prototype phase. Either that, or it will really be outrageously boxy. The silhouette kind of reminds me of the first-gen Kia Soul, but there’s a good chance that there’s a lot of padding here too. Then again, we know it’s supposed to be boxy like the old Bronco II, something else that was confirmed by the leaked images last year (see those below.)

On that note, it looks like the baby Bronco will undoubtedly be tiny with little cargo room and hardly enough room in the second row for grown adults. It will, however, be as rugged as they come and will be able to compete with the Jeep Renegade. Expect an AWD system at the very least, although, a fully-manual four-wheel-drive system could be in the cards too, and it would make sense if it’s destined to be as rugged as we expect.

2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco" Exterior Spyshots
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While the full-size Bronco will borrow its powertrains from the current Ranger, the baby Bronco will share its motivating DNA with the Ford Escape. That means a range of engines that includes the 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-banger and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-banger. Horsepower output, depending on the engine and tune should range from 180 horsepower up to as much as 250 horsepower on the higher end of the scale. Later on, at least a couple of years down the road, you’ll probably be able to get your hands on a hybrid model that will offer better fuel economy and a little more power but may not be quite as capable off road. Expect the Baby Bronco to make its debut sometime in mid-2020, probably at the Detroit Auto Show in summer.

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 the photos from the dealer meeting discovered by the folks over at off-road.com show the crossover in all its glory.

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 vehicle 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. The fascia is also boxy and imposing, despite the small size.

2021 Ford Bronco II aka "Baby Bronco"
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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, but two horizontal stripes extend toward the center of the grille. The bumper looks spartan and there’s thick cladding on the fenders.

The latter also feature a vertical vent, like seen on some Land Rover SUVs. The wheelbase is a bit longer than we anticipated, while the glasshouse becomes a bit more complex toward the rear with a heavily raked C-pillar contrasting the almost vertical tailgate. The white roof suggests Ford could offer a two-tone option. The rear section isn’t yet visible.

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
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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
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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
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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

2021 Ford Bronco Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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2020 Ford Bronco

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Ford Bronco.

2005 Ford Bronco
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Read our full review on the 2005 Ford Bronco.

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Top Selling Model: Ford F-Series Trucks

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Update History

Updated 11.14.2018 - Leaked photos from a dealer meeting shows the "baby" Bronco before we’re supposed to see it. Check out the photos in the gallery section.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
About the author

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