IT SEEMS Ford is genuinely going after Jeep with its 2020 Ford Bronco, revealing to dealers that the reborn nameplate will include a family of vehicles: three-door short wheelbase and five-door long wheelbase body-on-frame models targeting the Jeep Wrangler; a ‘baby’ Bronco aimed squarely at the Jeep Renegade; and a light duty ute tipped to come off the same monocoque platform as the baby Bronco.
At a dealer conference in Palm Beach, Florida, last month, Ford showed a prototype of the two-door Bronco and told those gathered that there would also be a four-door variant available.
Officials also said the SUV will be heavily customisable, with removable roof and doors that can be stowed in the vehicle’s cargo space. The wing mirrors are mounted on the A-pillar to allow the doors to be removed in much the same way as the Wrangler’s.
Those in the audience, who had to give up their mobile phones before entering the room, said the prototype vehicle had a boxy appearance which is in keeping with a teaser image Ford USA showed last year. That image was simply a covered vehicle, the dimensions and shape of which hinted at the three-door Bronco and gave fans of the model hope for a traditional off-road vehicle.
Automotive News quoted one dealer who was at the conference as saying that the Bronco “was twice as cool as I thought it would be”.
It is widely expected that the new Bronco will be built on the Australian-designed T6 architecture which also underpins the Ranger ute and Everest wagons here, and it will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, where the US version of the Ranger is made for the domestic market.
Thoughts that the new Bronco would simply be a rebadged Everest were quashed when that covered image appeared, and Ford execs have since confirmed that the Bronco will have its own unique styling.
Recent spy photographs out of the USA have shown a mule vehicle using a Ranger extra-cab body with a shortened bed on a chassis with a shorter wheelbase than a Ranger. The camouflaged mutant had its suspension hidden by fringed brushes in much the same way that Ford Australia hid the coil spring rear suspension on Everest prototypes in the lead-up to the launch of that vehicle here. This vehicle is tipped to be a development mule for the Bronco.
Despite the links to the Australian chassis platforms, Aussie Ford fans shouldn’t get excited about the Bronco being on sale here anytime soon. Ford Australia chief Kay Hart told local media last year there was no decision on the Bronco coming to Australia as the Ranger and Everest were doing well here already. The Ranger ute remains Ford Australia’s best-selling model.
There were also unconfirmed reports of Ford engineers from US and Australia recently seen driving a pair of left-hand-drive Wranglers ‘extremely hard’ in the bush near Melbourne. When local off-roaders quizzed the drivers they said they were benchmarking the Jeeps off-road ability for a future Ford product. With the ongoing development of the T6 platform by Ford Australia, this testing, if true, could only be construed as being for the upcoming Bronco.
The Bronco should appear in the USA before the end of this year as a 2020 model, while the light-duty baby Bronco isn’t expected until 2021.