The Ford Bronco has returned as a family of off-roaders, but there’s room for more.

Last summer, the 2021 Ford Bronco was revealed in two- and four-door forms alongside the smaller 2021 Bronco Sport with turbocharged powertrains, four-wheel drive, and off-road capability.

Ford’s not done. A higher-performance Bronco has been in the mail since day one. Ford teased the potential Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) flying through the air last September. Now, the off-roader has been spotted roaming the streets of Michigan, with a related Ranger Raptor seen testing alongside it in some of the shots. (Ford's upcoming redesigned Ranger is a twin under the skin with the Bronco.)

2022 Ford Ranger Raptor and Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medie

2022 Ford Ranger Raptor and Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medie

Here’s how a more capable Bronco might take shape.

Power

The most powerful 2021 Ford Bronco announced so far has a 2.7-liter turbo-6 that makes 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. A high-speed desert-running Bronco model will likely have, and need, more power. That could come from the 3.0-liter turbo-6 from the Explorer ST or the 3.5-liter turbo-6 from the F-150. The 3.5-liter mill makes 450 hp and 510 lb-ft in today's F-150 Raptor and possibly more in the redesigned 2021 F-150 Raptor. A lesser version of this engine makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft in some applications.

The 3.5-liter turbo-6 would fit in the Bronco, which is based on an updated version of the current Ranger’s T6 platform. The smart money is on a high-output version of the 3.0-liter turbo-6 with about 400 hp, which would afford the more powerful F-150 Raptor some breathing space.

Suspension and other hardware

The high-performance Bronco will need a beefier suspension with lots of travel, room for large tires, and probably unique beadlock-capable wheels. The latest prototype is wearing 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels borrowed from the F-150 Raptor.

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The Bronco is available with 35-inch off-road tires, Bilstein shocks, and high-performance off-road suspension. That’s where today’s Bronco ends and the high-performance variant would begin. Camouflaged prototypes are rolling on Sasquatch-spec 35-inch tires. The BFGoodrich K02 all-terrain tires are LT315/70R17s.

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The spy shots show orange shocks, which are likely the electronically controlled Fox 3.0 bypass shocks from the current F-150 Raptor. These shocks have active damping, external bypass technology, and a 9-chamber design.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Name

What’s in a name? The Bronco is sold in six grades, including base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, and Badlands.

Reach into the Bronco’s history and there aren’t a ton of terrific historical nameplates to add for a high-performance variant. Eddie Bauer anyone?

In 1965 Ford introduced the 1965 Bronco Dune Duster and displayed it at the Detroit auto show. It featured an NHRA-approved roll bar with integrated headrests along with exposed chrome exhaust pipes—and walnut appliqués. The dashboard featured suede padding and walnut-trimmed control knobs. It wasn’t an off-roader, but the name would be fantastic for a high-performance desert runner.

Ford’s built a truckload of brand equity with the Raptor name. A Bronco Raptor could work, but Ford might reserve it for its  pickup trucks. YouTube channel RevMatchTV has reported that the Raptorized Bronco might be called the Bronco Warthog, which would make a lot of sense as, like Raptor, it uses a tough animal as its name.  Ford added fuel to the rumor fire when it filed a trademark application last Sept. to use the Warthog name on a vehicle.

Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) teased

Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) teased

Timing

Historically, the Raptor variant of the F-150 has lagged by a year or two, but Ford seems hot to trot with the Bronco and wants to keep this horse bucking. With a teaser image already released, it's likely the high-performance Bronco will debut within the year. We'd expect the Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) to land at dealerships as a 2022 model.