The first Bronco came to life in 1966 and the last bowed out some 30 years later. 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.
To many, however, it's known as the vehicle involved in a slow-speed car chase in Southern California on a June day back in 1994. Riding in the back of a white Bronco that fateful day was O.J. Simpson, who had just been charged with two counts of murder. Although Simpson owned a Bronco, the famous example actually belonged to his friend and former teammate Al Cowlings, who was behind the wheel during the chase.
Ford is now set to unveil a new generation of the Bronco. On Monday, the automaker posted an image of the bucking bronco logo on Instagram together with the tag, “07/09/2020. The Wild Returns.” However, as the week went on, Ford received push back on that date because July 9 just so happens to be Simpson's birthday. With that in mind, Ford on Friday changed the date of the reveal to July 13.
UPDATE: The reveal of the all-new Ford Bronco lineup will now happen on Monday, July 13. The previous targeted date of July 9 unintentionally coincided with O.J. Simpson’s birthday. We wanted to be sensitive and respectful of this concern.— Mark Truby (@mtruby) June 19, 2020
The new Bronco, due on sale later this year as a 2021 model, will stay true to the original's ethos of a durable 4x4 with solid off-road chops.
The new Bronco is based on the T6 body-on-frame platform shared with the Ranger mid-size pickup, albeit shortened for SUV duty. Ford is serious about delivering a proper Jeep Wrangler rival and the Ranger's platform is a great basis.
As for the styling, the Bronco R Baja racer unveiled last November points the way. Details that emerged following a dealer preview showing last year also suggest there will be retro elements and even removable roof and door panels. Both three- and five-door body styles are known to be coming, and a pickup body style to rival Jeep's Gladiator is also a distinct possibility.
2021 Ford Bronco 3-door spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
It isn't clear what powertrains are planned, but we know a hybrid option will be offered. Solid bets include Ford's 2.3-liter turbo-4 and/or 2.7-liter twin-turbo-6. Don't expect a V-8. An electric motor's low-end torque could aid low-speed off-roading situations, and an electric power take-off feature could prove ideal for camping.
The Bronco will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, where the Ranger is built. Incidentally, it's the same plant that built the previous Bronco.
A smaller Bronco Sport is also coming for the 2021 model year. This will also be an off-road-focused vehicle, though it will sit on the same car-like unibody platform that underpins the latest Ford Escape.