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All-new Ford Bronco bucks on in

By Matt Raudonikis, 14 Jul 2020 News

Ford unveils new 2021 Bronco, but the Ranger-based SUV and off-roader won’t be coming to Australia

All-new Ford Bronco bucks on in
  • All-new Bronco.
  • Two-door, Four-door and Bronco Sport models.
  • Removable roof and doors.
  • Class-leading off-road specs.
  • Up to 35-inch tyres available.
  • Front and rear locking diffs.
  • Bronco Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, Wildtrak and First Edition models offered.
  • Off road-focused ‘Sasquatch’ package.
  • No right-hand drive, so not for Australia.

AFTER months of leaked images, CGI renderings and a pandemic-delayed unveiling, Ford has officially pulled the wraps off its Bronco family of SUVs.

Revealed in three variants, the initial Bronco line-up includes two- and four-door off-roaders built on the Ford Ranger/Everest T6 platform with removable roofs and doors, and a light-duty SUV which is built on the Ford Escape platform.

It is expected the Bronco family will grow to possibly include a pick-up truck at some time in the future. There’s also room for some Ford Performance-tweaked models at some time.

Bronco returns after 24 years

The new Bronco, expected to go on sale in the USA later this year, marks the first time the nameplate has been applied to a production model since it was shelved back in 1996.

It debuted as a compact 4x4 back in 1966 to create a vehicle that had the capabilities of the WW2 Jeep in a more everyday practical and comfortable package. The Bronco soon grew to a full-size SUV and went through five generations of models before being discontinued.

Bronco's Australian roots

The third-gen Bronco was even built and sold in Australia between 1981 to 1987, when it was assembled in Ford’s Brisbane plant.

The Australian connection is there again in this new generation of Bronco, which is built on the Australian-developed T6 platform that underpins PX Ranger and Everest.
Bronco test ‘Mules’ have been spotted undergoing development in Australia, which is nothing unusual for Ford US products.

Those T6 underpinnings mean it’s riding on a separate ladder frame using a coil-sprung line rear axle and coil IFS. It also means it could be made in right-hand drive; although, Ford says there are no plans for that or the Bronco or Bronco Sport to come to Australia. Bummer!

Ford Bronco targets Jeep Wrangler

The new Bronco makes no secret of the fact that Ford is going after the Jeep Wrangler in the off-road segment. Despite lacking the off-road benefits of a live front axle, the Bronco brings in many Jeep traits such as a removable hardtop roof and doors, and a boxy, functional silhouette.

The two- and four-door models also mimic the Wrangler line-up; although, rather than have an off road-focused variant like the Wrangler Rubicon, any of the Bronco two- and four-doors can be optioned up with the best off-road hardware.

Power will come from a choice of turbocharged petrol engines starting with the 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that makes 201kW and 420Nm, while the main engine for the two- and four-door Broncos will be the 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 engine putting out 231kW and 542Nm.

Exciting news is that the Bronco will be available with a seven-speed manual gearbox as well as the 10-speed auto that has become the default Ford transmission these days.

Bronco's impressive off-road specs

The manual is basically a 6+1 ratio 'box with six regular gears plus a crawler ratio. With this transmission, the optional 4.7: final drive and the two-speed transfer case in low range, the Bronco has an astounding 94.75:1 overall crawl ratio. With the auto it’s only 67.8:1, but compare that to a Wrangler Rubicon which has a 70.3:1 crawl ratio.

The Bronco is also promising class-leading off-road specs including the option of 35-inch tyres that will give it 850mm water-fording capability and up to 295mm of ground clearance, as well as 29° rampover, 43.2° approach, and 37.2° departure angles.

Ford has gone with Bilstein position-sensitive shock absorbers for its premium off-road packages on the Bronco and not the Fox shocks you’ll find under Raptor models. This leads us to believe we will see a Ford Performance-tuned Bronco Raptor at some stage.

The Raptor’s ‘Baja mode’ is available on the Terrain Management System on some Bronco variants, while a disconnecting front sway bar comes on the Bronco Badlands model.

The differentials are Dana units and both front and rear lockers are available, as is a 4.7:1 final drive ratio on the Sasquatch package.

WATCH: Bronco prototype testing

That Sasquatch package also adds 17-inch beadlock-capable alloy wheels with 35-inch mud terrain tyres; front and rear lockers; high-clearance suspension with position-sensitive Bilstein shock absorbers; and high-clearance fender flares. It’s the package off-roaders will want, but we love it for the name alone.

Bronco not riding into Australia

Love it as we might the new Bronco is not for us, with the model designed for the US and Chinese markets only. The official word from Ford is that there is no plan for right-hand drive production, so we can only hope the local converters get on to importing them on a small scale.

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