Ford Bronco 'Air Roof' Will Give You Open-Air Off-Roading Via Six Removable Panels
Update: Added detail about next-generation Jeep Wrangler roof.
A vehicle is no Bronco unless owners can remove its roof in some way. Thankfully, it looks like the next-generation SUV won’t disappoint.
According to two well-placed sources, the next Bronco won’t feature a canvas top or fiberglass cap. Instead, it will look to the Wrangler’s little brother, the Jeep Renegade, for inspiration.
The two sources independently detailed the existence of a feature called “Air Roof” for the next Bronco. The system will consist of multiple panels, possibly up to six of them, that can be removed manually and stored in the vehicle.
Much like Jeep Renegade, and unlike the current Jeep Wrangler, Bronco is expected to have fixed roof rails. Our sources did not give detail on what material makes up the roof panels — whether they be glass, plastic, or metal.
The Renegade with MySky — the tradename for the Jeep’s roof — uses solid, lightweight panels that owners can manually remove and store in the trunk. Jeep also offers optional power retractable panels, though they can still be manually removed and stored.
The next-generation Jeep Wrangler pickup variant is rumored to get a fixed roof with removable panels, reports Road & Track.
The illegal convertible
The last-generation Bronco technically had a removable top — but Ford dissuaded owners of its removal for legal reasons.
If a particularly nitpicky cop saw a ’92-’96 Ford Bronco going topless, Johnny Law had every right to pull it over thanks to Ford engineering its Center Mounted High Stop Light (CMHSL) into the Bronco’s fiberglass roof. When removed, the Bronco was without that required light.
Ford attempted to deter owners from removing the top by affixing it to the body with tamper-proof Torx (TR) bolts. The Jeep Wrangler gets around this problem with a CMHSL mounted to the external rear-mounted spare tire bracket.
Off the beaten path
The latest news brings relief to Bronco fans after a Redditor, claiming to work for Ford as a designer, stated the next-generation SUV would be fixed-roof only. Those claims were later refuted by TTAC sources.
North America Product Communications Manager at Ford Motor Company Mike Levine wouldn’t comment on specifics, stating Ford will share more information closer to launch and Bronco will “meet the needs of Ford’s most demanding off-road enthusiasts.”
Zackman on Jan 13, 2017
I can see it now - all those removable panels. The owners will give their Bronco a nice, if not lovable nickname: the LeakMeister and/or the SqueakMeister. I haven't heard of those issues with Jeeps, but Jeep owners put up with niggles that others wouldn't tolerate, so we'll have to wait and see.
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