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

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
3 of 43 comments
  • 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.

  • Irvingklaws Was a must have for my wife's new car. After years of windshield mounts, trying to keep the sun off the phone, wires running across the dash,'s been a welcome upgrade. Don't have it in my current (old) car, just a stock stereo with the aforementioned windshield phone mount and wires...which is fine enough for me. But if I upgrade the radio with an aftermarket unit, the first thing I'm looking for, after separate volume and tuning KNOBS, is Carplay. Note, I've yet to find an aftermarket head unit meeting these basic qualifications. The infotainment in my '17 GTI had both of these and was near perfect, I'd be happy with that unit in any car.
  • Haze3 Near must have... car guy make car, software guy make software THAT I CAN USE EVERYWHERE and not just on some specific brand of truck/car/suv.
  • Wolfwagen If there is no Rust or rot this would be a good buy when MB craftsmanship and engineering meant something. While I prefer the 500 or 560 for the larger engine, this is good
  • Wolfwagen Tim, Now you should ask the B&B who we want to succeed and why. You could limit it to EV or non- North American MFGs.
  • TCowner I consider it mandatory for the navigation purpose - using a phone in a Weathertech cupholder in my old Town Car just doesn't compare. However, I don't use it for anything else (i.e. music, etc) and don't find that important.