In a world where sedans have all but been abandoned by every major automaker, it should come as no surprise that Ford is attempting to leverage every bit of SUV mojo it can muster by reviving the Bronco nameplate. Gone are the days of pretending that a Taurus is actually being raced around the oval at NASCAR events. Ford is officially all-in with the announcement that it will no longer produce the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, or Taurus for the US market. What’s an automaker to do when the only vehicles moving from dealer lots are SUVs and their pasty, emaciated cousin, the crossover? Why, make more, of course.
Back from the dead
MotorTrend reports that Ford has unveiled plans to resurrect the Bronco name in all its four-wheeling, mud-slinging glory. Well, kind of. Ford has confirmed the new Bronco is in the works and should be available in the US for 2020, but this isn’t your father’s Bronco. Ford has yet to release any pictures, or even renders, of the new Bronco, which should make the Bronco purists out there a little nervous. Like the K-5 Blazer or CJ-5, nostalgia abounds about the Bronco name, and 4-wheel drive aficionados put the brand on a high pedestal when it comes to off-road capabilities and rough-and-tumble fun. It is more than likely that the neutered versions of the Bronco Ford is contemplating are going to fall short of many enthusiasts’ expectations, but will likely land right in the sweet spot of the US market for car-based SUVs.
The flagship Bronco will be based on the Ranger mid-size platform and will be offered in either two or four-door trim. While little is known about the actual appearance of the SUV, it should have detachable doors and roof which can be stored inside the vehicle, and a large Bronco-emblazoned grill in the front. Almost everything else about the Bronco is speculation, including details about the powertrain. Possible configurations could include the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder or the EcoBoost V6, mated to the 10-speed auto from current Expedition and Ranger platforms.
Equally mysterious in terms of specifications and capabilities is the upcoming Bronco hybrid, also slated for production according to Ford CEO Jim Hackett. As Jeep expands its hybrid offerings with an electrified eTorque version of both the 3.6-liter V6 and the turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, Ford looks to squeeze out some market share with a hybrid version of the Bronco. It’s unknown just what engines would be offered in hybrid trim for the Bronco, but an electrically-assisted turbo 2.3 could give the nimble Wrangler a run for its money, assuming it’s not stuffed into a mild-mannered crossover version like the rumored ‘Baby Bronco.’
The Baby Bronco, as it’s been affectionately nicknamed, is in position to be the best-selling permutation of the four-wheeling legend next year. While reports are coming out from every quarter that SUVs are king in the US, the truth is, it’s really all about the crossover. Car-based SUVs are not just the wave of the future, they’re currently flooding the streets of America in record numbers, and Ford is looking to capitalize on that trend by adding the Baby Bronco alongside the current Edge and Escape brands. The Baby Bronco will likely sport some more rugged features, bigger tires, or higher ground clearance than other current crossovers offered by Ford.
While it may seem crazy to add yet another unibody, car-based crossover to the lineup, they’re pure gold these days, and with a stock price lower than every major manufacturer in the US, Ford needs all the help it can get.