Solid Axles Could Be Coming to the Ford Bronco

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

In a galvanized country shaken to its core by the looming reintroduction of the Ford Bronco, word comes of a component that could bring off-road prowess to every driveway in the union.

The solid axle.

Ford, which recently announced the official return of the storied 4×4, has reportedly handed over axle duties to Dana, noted supplier of beams to the Jeep Wrangler.

Automotive News reports that the supplier was announced during an investor presentation earlier this month. Dana claims that the upcoming Bronco, along with the U.S.-bound Ranger, will feature “front and rear axles featuring our latest AdvanTEK gear technology.”

When speaking of the near-mythical SUV, Ford executives have used words designed to stir the imaginations of off-road enthusiasts — Chairman Bill Ford called it a “true, tough Bronco” — implying Wrangler-fighting capabilities. Looking for an on-road softy? Pick up an Escape, Flex, Explorer, Expedition or Edge, buddy.

Still, Dana’s involvement in the 2020 Bronco doesn’t eliminate the possibility of an independent front suspension. First, the supplier hasn’t specified exactly what axle will appear on the Bronco. As well, Dana’s solid axles aren’t the sole domain of its AdvanTEK gear technology. Some independent setups have it, too.

Just to deflate the anticipation balloon a little more, Jalopnik notes that the 2019 Ranger — a midsize pickup based on the overseas T6 Ranger — does not contain a front beam-type axle. The Bronco will be based on the Ranger. Sad trombone.

Whether or not the Bronco materializes with solid axles front and rear remains to be seen, but we do know that Ford will allow something close to al fresco motoring. The automaker is expected to outfit the model with an “Air Roof” system of removable panels. The fresh air could help dry those tears.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Hgrunt Hgrunt on Jan 25, 2017

    I ask this out of pure ignorance, but what is the significance of having (or not having) solid axles on the Bronco, other than tapping into the impression that it can off-road better if it has solid front axles?

    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jan 25, 2017

      Hgrunt, The fact is IFS and IRS is the best option in all driving situation, whether on road or off. A live axle is the cheapest option to provide greater wheel travel/articulation. It's not the best but it is the cheapest. Live axles off road also creates issues with clearance as the diffs sit lower to the ground and can hit or the vehicle sits on the diff with both wheels off the ground. Driving through mud a live axle impedes traction by acting like a bulldozer. Independent suspension allows the wheels to sit on the surface flatter. This means a greater footprint of tread is available. Independent suspensions has the diff sitting higher off the ground allowing better under vehicle clearance. Independent suspension desigbed for off road use is a lot more expensive. Control arms need to be much longer than on road design. So, IFS/IRS is the best, but expensive. Live/solid axles are the cheapest and does the job.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Jan 25, 2017

    @hgrunt - As opposed to riding partly on the sidewalls in certain off-road situations, solid axles keep the tires perpendicular to terrain, much better than independents, especially with a "sway bar disconnect" feature, allowing even more articulation and therefore, improve downforce, as opposed to having a wheel up in the air.

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