By on January 12, 2017

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Roof, Image: © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

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.

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Roof Panel Storage, © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

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.”

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39 Comments on “Ford Bronco ‘Air Roof’ Will Give You Open-Air Off-Roading via Six Removable Panels...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Well, well, well. Now, whether this rumor is true or not, the removable panels at least seem to be one of the more popular features of the Renegade and is one reason why I traded my big Wrangler on the smaller Renegade and not a Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar
      caltemus

      I was very disappointed with the panels on the renegade. They are all plastic and not very large; and the bag they stow in takes up all of the cargo area and you can’t stack much on top of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        That’s an exaggeration, Cal. Exactly which cargo area are you talking about, the whole back end of the car or the under-floor storage area specifically designed to store those panels?

        And what do you mean by, “…and you can’t stack much on top of it”?

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    FWIW, the vast majority of buyers never removed their Bronco top. When Dodge redesigned the Ramcharger in 1981 and replaced the removable roof with a conventional, hardly anyone even noticed.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Except, perhaps, a bump in sales of Jeep’s CJs as a result.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      How easy was it to remove that big top from the final Bronco? I’d think it would be quite heavy, and wasn’t it screwed down?

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Just buzzing through a few threads, it seems the 78-96 Bronco top was 120-200 lbs., the Blazer was anywhere between 180 and 300, and the Ramcharger was 300 lbs. I dunno what could account for the large differences, unless they went to different percentages of fiberglass in certain years.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        A buddy of mine had the “big” Bronco. Removing the top was a huge PITA. Leaking was a problem once the top was put back on.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Oh, and the vast majority of the ’60s vintage Broncos where I lived had their tops removed for the duration of the summer and some even had their tops off during the winter. On the other hand, when they went to the F-150 body, apparently the tops were so heavy that very few even bothered to try. When it takes 2-4 people to remove a top just for a day trip, not all that many want to bother. When it’s an easy one-person task, you’ll see a lot more ‘topless’ rigs on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      FWIW: whether or not the vast majority of buyers never removed their Bronco tops is irrelevant. A removable top is part of what makes a Bronco, a Bronco.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I remember reading at the time when Dodge redesigned the RamCharger they had done a customer survey of owners who removed the top. It was quite low hence the metal redesign.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Can’t really call them T-tops. O-tops maybe?

  • avatar
    mleclerc19xx

    Oh the creaking nightmare…

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I never had a late-model Bronco but my brother-in-law had one for years. He took the top off once. Besides the weight, he claimed that it was bear to get back on and it just never felt as solid afterwards… plus creaks and rattles. So, a fixed structure with smaller removable panels seems like a good compromise to me.

    The renegade My Sky looks like a good and relatively inexpensive solution. Has anyone experienced these over time yet? How is the sealing after they are replaced a few times? Does it feel pretty wide open with them removed?

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Nerd alert: CHMSL was not required on light trucks and vans until 1994.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Speaking of removable panels, is there any company out there making removable tops for old Jeeps that let you remove just the part over the front seats like a JK? That would be cool…

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      I wish. Hardtops in general are hard to find for older jeeps. $2200+ for a new one doesn’t seem reasonable, and used ones pretty much don’t exist.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I found a sweet Wrangler YJ I’m interested in (and can afford) but it only has a soft top and what looks like hard half-doors, no hardtop. I guess I’ll just have to hope the soft top is sealed well because it’s f*cking January in the f*cking Northeast.

        • 0 avatar
          Car Ramrod

          You should be good with a YJ as long as it isn’t an ’87 (several leftover CJ or hard to find parts on those). I also have a YJ and recently moved north. This is my vehicle for snowy/icy days or whenever the roads are salted, but the soft top is drafty. I haven’t found much about fitment of a CJ top on a YJ, but I hear they sort of fit. Smittybuilt makes new tops, but they are especially expensive for us half door folks. You’ll need to wire the defroster and put in a switch. Not too hard from what I hear.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            It’s a 1991. A Renegade, even!

            http://www.georges4thgenmotors.com/1991_Jeep_Wrangler_Quakertown_PA_266172913.veh#

            Mileage is a bit high but I know from experience (having seen a 324,000 mile XJ before) that the 4.0 can certainly handle that kind of mileage, and it’s an automatic so while it won’t be as fun I can actually drive it.

          • 0 avatar
            Car Ramrod

            Not bad. Yes, they’ll go forever. Make sure you have a look at the condition of the floor under the carpet. The windshield seals often leak and dump water in the vicinity of the driver’s ankles. Left unchecked the floor will eventually rust. It probably goes without saying, but those aren’t the factory upper soft doors. Maybe those are quieter than mine.

      • 0 avatar
        Not_a_luddite

        There’s a guy in Findlay, Ohio, “Rudy’s CJs” that almost always has tops. The tops are easy to find, it’s the rear liftgate that rotted out, those are the challenge.

    • 0 avatar

      Besttop used to make one. I don’t see it on their site anymore. But this forum has a pic
      http://www.wranglerforum.com/f282/bestop-2-piece-hardtop-42668.html

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I don’t see many Wrangler owners going topless. The city types who buy most of them have an aversion to mosquitoes.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Six panels sounds very convenient. But one can only wonder how much more convenient 12 panels or 18 would have been.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    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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