2020 Ford Bronco
Will the Bronco square off with the Jeep Wrangler?
Rumors have continually teased the automotive industry with speculation on the Bronco’s revival. A comeback for such an iconic name would surely spark interest while shaking up the SUV segment. Though it’s still speculation, most agree the Bronco will be based on the upcoming Ranger pickup and feature a body-on-frame design with a shared group of powertrain options. Styling, however, will be unique to each.
We’ve heard and written our share of news related the topic. Just recently, we brought you a rendering of what the next-generation Ranger might look like for the U.S. market and that it’s rumored to share its assembly line with the new Bronco. Before that, we reported that Ford is making way for both the Bronco and Ranger at its Michigan assembly plant by shipping production of the Focus and C-Max to Mexico in 2018.
Even fan sites and forums have been buzzing with anticipation. In February of 2016 Bronco6G posted a tantalizing rendering of the sixth-generation Bronco. It’s heavily based on the 2004 Bronco concept truck, which itself recalls the design of the original 1966 Bronco. As we said in our initial coverage of the rendering, we can’t find anything we’d change. There are several attributes we’re betting won’t make production, but that’s a different story.
Here we’re taking a closer look at the upcoming Bronco – or at least what the rumor mill and our own speculation can piece together. Keep reading for the full run-down and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Continue reading for the full review
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.)
Let’s get one thing established: Bronco6G’s rendering is awesome. The overall design is very reminiscent of the original 1966 Bronco, yet it still features plenty of modern touched that bring it into the 21st century. That said, the rendering shows a vehicle closely related to the F-150. If our speculation is right, the Bronco will rather be related to the mid-size Ranger pickup, making it a smaller vehicle and one more compatible with the Jeep Wrangler. Still, this design could easily be scaled down to the mid-size SUV class.
The grille features a Proud it horizontal bar flight by round headlights on either end. The fenders have that distinctive bronco character line as well. The ends of the bumper look to be borrowed from the F-150, while the center section features a built-in recovery winch and bull bar. We doubt the bull bar and winch will make production, though the winch has a better chance of passing crash test and pedestrian impact standards.
A single character line runs down the length of the SUV, looking just like the first generation Bronco. The fenders feature moderate bulges to cover the large tires. Modern wheels give the truck a fresh look, though Ford will likely use stronger units for the production vehicle.
This rendering obviously shows the Bronco being a two-door SUV. While we’d love for that to be the case, it’s hard to imagine Ford offering only this configuration. More likely would be a four-door version, or at least one with rear-opening doors for easy access to the rear seats. Think Toyota FJ Cruiser. Looking at the Jeep Wrangler as a case study will show a majority of buyers opt of four doors. Perhaps Ford will copy the Wrangler, giving it two wheelbase lengths with both two- and four-door versions. Hey, anything is possible.
Regardless of our speculation, we only hope Ford gives the Bronco some… guts. Make its brawny vehicle worthy of its name – not something we’d be tempted to call the Bronco II.
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 out back. That would definitely separate it from the current crop of crossovers.
The F-150’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost pictured
As we said about the future Ranger pickup, the Bronco will likely borrow its powertrains from the F-150. We’d love to see the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 be the volume engine thanks to its 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque. That would easily out-gun the current Wrangler JK’s 285-horsepower 3.6-liter V-8. Optionally, we’d love to see the well-regarded 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Perhaps Ford will save this engine for a performance model. That makes sense when considering it makes an impressive 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.
Backing up both engines will probably Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission. It would be fantastic to see a six-speed manual available as well, though we’re not holding our breath. Of course, the Bronco will be offered with a part-time 4WD system. This means it has a two-speed transfer case that sends power to the front wheels only when the driver selects 4WD high- or 4WD low-range. This transfer case will most likely be electronic, meaning it operates by the turn of a dial rather than a shift lever on the floor. Expect Ford to include an electronic locking rear differential as well.
Chassis & Suspension
If Ford is smart, it will design the Bronco as a proper body-on-frame SUV. If that’s the case, expect the frame to be a fully boxed unit constructed from high-strength steel like the F-150. Suspension wise, the Front will utilize an independent suspension system likely borrowed from the Ranger. It will have control arms damped by MacPherson struts. Out back, a live axle, perhaps with a five-link system and coil springs, will be found. This will give the Bronco excellent off-road capabilities without sacrificing too much of its on-road comfort. Skid plates will protect vital drivetrain components, just like on the F-150 Raptor.
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 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.
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 surround 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.
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.
The rumors surrounding the Ford Ranger and Bronco resurrections have plenty of legitimacy and plausibility to them, making them hard to ignore. We just hope Ford is actually planning both vehicles and that they each turn out to be the brawny vehicles consumers are clambering for.
SUV, truck, and crossover sales have been on the rise for years now, with no foreseeable sign in stopping. Sure the looming CAFÉ standards hover like a dark cloud of despair over the segments, but automakers continue to chase the almighty dollar with the customers’ buying choices leading the way.
Nevertheless, we’re hoping to see both the Bronco and Ranger by the end of the decade. C’mon Ford – if you build it, they will come.