It was the subject of rumors for years, but Ford finally confirmed the return of the Bronco nameplate last year.
The first Bronco came to life way back in 1966 and the last bowed out of production in 1996. It was an SUV before SUVs were a thing, and over multiple generations it grew quite a bit in size and became a vehicle you were more likely to see at a shopping mall strip than crawling over boulders.
The new Bronco is due for 2020, and judging by a teaser shot released last week it's returning to the original model's Jeep CJ-rivaling roots. We're talking smaller, tougher and more capable. Here's what else to expect.
2019 Ford Ranger
Platform shared with Ford Ranger
It will be a twin under the skin with the Ford Ranger mid-size pickup truck, which itself is returning for 2019. The underlying platform is a body-on-frame design known within Ford as the T6 and largely developed by Ford's Australian outpost for a Ranger introduced outside the United States in 2011. Our Ranger is essentially an updated version of this earlier Ranger.
Platform already used in two SUVs
Ford already uses the T6 platform in a pair of SUVs. One is the family-oriented Everest, a mid-size offering with three rows of seats. The other is a tough off-roader similar to the Jeep Wrangler and sold by Brazilian firm Troller, which Ford acquired in 2007. The Troller, which rides on a shortened version of the T6 platform, could be the inspiration for the new Bronco.
Hybrid powertrain planned
Ford has said a hybrid powertrain will be offered on the new Bronco. An electric motor's low-end torque could definitely aid tough low-speed off-roading situations, and an electric power take-off feature would prove ideal for camping. Four-wheel drive will almost certainly be standard.
2014 Troller T4
Made in USA
Production will be handled at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, the same plant responsible for previous generations of the Bronco. The plant will also be the home of the new Ranger for the U.S. market. Ford said it is spending $850 million in plant upgrades to support production of the two vehicles.
It won't look like 2004's Bronco concept
Ford rolled out a Bronco concept at the 2004 Detroit auto show. We're told the design of the new Bronco has moved on considerably since then, with the boxy shape likely to be the only element to have been retained.
Ford won’t confirm it, but there are rumors that axle supplier Dana has been tapped to provide solid axles for the new Bronco. This is the same supplier that provides solid axles for the Jeep Wrangler. Solid axles, though not the best for on-road performance, are simple, robust, and easy to modify. Moreover, they allow for considerable articulation that lets the vehicle's tires stay in contact with the road (or lack of a road, in some cases).