By on January 25, 2017

2004 Ford Bronco Concept, Image: Ford

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.

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43 Comments on “Solid Axles Could be Coming to the Ford Bronco...”

  • avatar

    these are the good ol days my friends.

  • avatar

    I refuse to give credence to any of these rumors. I will believe these vehicles when they are released.

    • 0 avatar

      Right? Its fun to speculate, but nobody really knows what it’ll be until the tires hit the pavement…or the stage floor at the production model’s debut.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      This Bronco saga seems to using the FCA model for providing info to the media.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        No. It’s because the Bronco is a big unknown. The media is going to suppliers to get more info and speculation.

      • 0 avatar

        You could alternatively use the GM model. Show the prototype continuously for 3 years before you build one (ex: Camaro.)

      • 0 avatar

        Bafo, how so? This information wasn’t from Ford, it’s speculative based, as Adam said, on supplier info.

        Ford has said the following:
        We are building a new SUV named Bronco.
        It will be built in Wayne, Michigan.
        It will be based off the next gen Ranger, which will also be built there.

        That’s. About. It.

  • avatar

    I wonder how many (this time) will see that old concept picture and believe it’s actually the new Bronco in production form? It happens every time.

    • 0 avatar

      I would rather they use that picture than the fan rendering that’s been floating around for the past few years. At least this one was a physical vehicle made by Ford.

      • 0 avatar

        Very true. I don’t mind it, I just think its funny how people always assume that its the real production model when its not.

        Like the article way back about the next-gen Cruze getting a hatchback model. They used the old gen overseas hatchback as the photo.
        Its ugly! Looks out of date!
        And when the real 2nd gen Cruze hatch debuted, its actually a sweet looking car for what it is.

  • avatar

    I came here to counter this claim with the same Jalopnik article that you ended up addressing anyway! OK, I can see when I’m not needed…

  • avatar
    Red Dirter

    It looks like a freaking older Honda Pilot!

  • avatar

    OK, I’m not the target buyer for this type of vehicle, but maybe Ford *should* have an independent front suspension here. Let’s face it – the “super serious off roader” market is probably owned 100% by the Wrangler, which is a legendary nameplate. A newbie might not find all that much success. Iconic nameplates are damned difficult to compete against right off the bat – ask Chrysler or Nissan how well their Corvette fighters did.

    So, offer butch styling and actual off road capability, with better on-road manners than a Wrangler. People who like the look and image but don’t like the way a Wrangler drives might be tempted. Sounds like that might be a winning strategy.

    • 0 avatar

      It is possible to build a pretty impressive fully independent off road suspension. That would actually help the Bronco stand out from the Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar

      “the “super serious off roader” market is probably owned 100% by the Wrangler,”

      I wouldn’t put it that way, but it’d be fair to guesstimate that they have a solid 50% locked up. Close to half of Tacoma buyers do some sort of offroading, I know Rams have quite a presence statistically, then 4Runners (less so but there) etc. And within “super serious offroading” there are the rock crawling guys that indeed gravitate towards the Wranglers. But a large subset of people might fall more under the “overlander” category in that they use their 4wd to get to somewhere for camping, touring out west, etc.

      I agree in that an IFS would be adequate for the latter type of use in just about 99% of use scenarios, and would exceed the performance of the solid front axle in a vast majority of the driving done on paved roads to get out to the wilderness as well as all of the dirt roads that make up 90%+ of overlanding “offroading.”

      • 0 avatar

        “Close to half of Tacoma buyers do some sort of offroading”

        Say what?

        They sold almost half a million of those last year.

        I find it almost impossible to believe almost half of those people do “some off-roading”.

        I’m not even sure I credit dirt roads.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I agree with you.

        Most off roading an IFS is superior. When all wheels are on the ground you will have better traction and control.

        A live axle is the best cheapest option in improving wheel travel/articulation.

      • 0 avatar

        I see a large number of “pre-Tacoma” Toyota pickups set up for hardcore 4×4 work. Same can be said for 4Runners of the same era. Old Cherokee’s are also popular among the hardcore 4×4 set. There is a big Jeep club in my town but only a small percentage are hardcore.

    • 0 avatar

      “Bronco” isn’t a legendary nameplate?

      I don’t get the mentality of “well, _____ vehicle already has that market” as though a compeditor couldn’t make any headway whatsoever.
      I guess since Ford sells the most pickups, everyone else should give up?
      Since Toyota Camry is the best selling car, all other midsizers should throw in the towel?
      Since the Tacoma sells well, the Colorado/Canyon, new Ridgeline and the upcoming Ranger are redundant?

      • 0 avatar

        Well, yeah, “Bronco” is legendary, but it’s also been out of circulation for a long time, John.

        Younger buyers might not even remember it, and if they do, they might remember it more as “that car OJ took the freeway ride in” versus “legendary off road vehicle.”

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          The Bronco is not legendary. Maybe to a Ford fan.

          The F100 is more “legendary”, if that’s possible.

          In 100 years from now all will know of the Model T, but “what’s a fncking Bronco”.

    • 0 avatar

      > “Let’s face it – the “super serious off roader” market is probably owned 100% by the Wrangler, which is a legendary nameplate. A newbie might not find all that much success. Iconic nameplates are damned difficult to compete against right off the bat”

      The Bronco dates back to 1965 – more than 20 years before the first Wrangler – and was the first to advertise itself as a “sport utility vehicle”. The Bronco hung on through the ’90s. It IS an iconic nameplate. (though yeah, I think the O.J. thing kept it off the market for decades).

  • avatar

    My guess…The Bronco will be more like the FJ and 4Runner than it will be like the Wrangler. BOF, independent front, solid rear. I wish it were here already!

  • avatar

    Fact is Dana has been suppling differentials for independent suspensions for a long long time. That Jag IRS that everyone used to have to put in the hotrod with Henry’s I beam front axle had a Dana 44 center section. The Ford twin traction beam IFS had Dana differentials as their core.

    The Dana page for their AdvanTEK differentials show them as center sections for independent suspensions.

    So no the fact that they are using Dana’s latest differentials that were designed for maximum fuel economy, including being dimensioned to support gear ratios down to 2.35:1 in no way indicates that the new Bronco will have a stick axle out front or even in the rear.

    Finally the new Bronco and Ranger will not be based on the old global Ranger no matter how much the people down under claim it is. It is a new platform even if it will most likely share some of the basic dimensions and general architecture.

  • avatar

    Old is new. Concept looks nice. Suhweet!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I would like to see a front live axle.

    But, the front horn design of the Ranger might not have the structural integrity to support a live axle set up.

    Here in Australia, some Rangers fitted bullbars have had significant chassis flex.

    This flexing is caused by the design of the chassis horn. It has been designed to fold under and telescope in a frontal collision.

    I suppose frontal impacts are not a concern at Ford, look at the Mustang (tongue in cheek).

    • 0 avatar

      No one said they were going to strap a straight axle under the current Ranger. Plus this straight axle stuff is just click bait, with no actual basis in reality. You also don’t need to forgo a front frame section that can collapse on impact to do a straight axle. Many vehicles have straight axles w/o leaf springs which is the only reason you’d need a rigid frame member in front of the engine mounting. The Wrangler comes to mind but Ford has also been putting coil sprung straight axles in the front of Super Duty trucks for over a decade.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz


        The Bronco is sitting on a shortened Ranger platform.

        Chassis design is generally the least altered part of the vehicle to change.

        The IFS on the Ranger/ Everest requires a completely different chassis design to a Ranger/Everest with a live axle.

        This is a significant departure from the Ranger. Much larger than different body panels or drivetrains.

        • 0 avatar

          No the chassis design is not necessarily the least changed item. Ford for example stuck a new frame under the Super Duty when they went from leaf springs to coils on the 4wd. The only change on the body was the headlights on the non XL trim levels.

          The frame on trucks is also usually the item that has the most variations. Not uncommon to find completely different frames between 2 and 4wd, different section heights for different capacities and wheel bases ect. Though on the other hand we see frames that are designed for both IFS and a straight axle.

          Regardless, the conclusion that they will be using AdvanTEK technology means that it will be a straight axle, even though the AdvanTEK technology is currently only independent, is pure click bait speculation.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Then the SuperDuties are unlike a F150.

            They are 2 completely different vehicles.

            You will see many different truck models (HDT, MDT) using the same cabs, but they are completely different, like a 1/2 to a HD.

  • avatar

    This is the type of crap speculative “news” that I wish TTAC would take a pass on.

    …So Dana has a gear set that works in both solid AND independent axles and the internet goes wild assuming that it’s going to be the former on the Bronco.

    This story is all about repeating someone’s basement fantasy across the internet and TTAC should take a stand on the unsubstantiated junk floating around.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Solid rear axle? Maybe. Solid front axle? Never.

  • avatar

    If Ford wants to do a solid axle Bronco, maybe they should go full retro with body on frame and manually lockable wheel hubs for AWD. There are buyers for those, I guess.

  • avatar

    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?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      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.

  • avatar

    @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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