2020 Ford Bronco Gains Hybrid Variant, Smaller Off-road Sibling

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2020 ford bronco gains hybrid variant smaller off road sibling

Ford wants to be seen as a nimble, responsive automaker, quick to adapt to changing market trends, so today the automaker dumped a pile of product information on our heads.

Some of the vehicles Ford confirmed today were already known, like the upcoming Shelby GT500 super Stang, Ford Explorer ST, and hybrid versions of the Mustang and F-150. What we didn’t know until today was that the reborn Bronco, due out in 2020, will receive an electrified powertrain. Nor were we aware that it won’t arrive alone.

Ford’s calling the Bronco’s smaller companion the “Off-Road Small Utility” for now, but “Mini Bronco” sounds better to our ears.

By 2020, Ford wants an SUV lineup consisting of eight models, with the Ford Performance division gaining 12 new models, among them the 2019 Edge ST and 2020 Explorer ST. But you’re probably not reading this to learn more about the Explorer ST.

You want more Bronco.

The automaker teased the above image on Thursday, showing the Bronco sitting beneath a form-fitting wrap. Is it a concept vehicle? Prototype? Ford won’t say. It’s clear Ford aims to challenge Jeep with this offering, rather than offer a butched-up family hauler like the overseas-market — and Ranger-based — Everest (as some have feared). A flat hoodline, upright windshield, flat roof, massive wheel arches, and rear-mounted spare are the big takeaways from this image. Is there room for four doors between those arches? The jury’s out.

Ford didn’t say how broad the Bronco range will be, but a hybrid model is a certainty. The hybrid system planned for this model and others is apparently “more efficient and less expensive” than previous generations.

“The valuable capability [hybrids] offer – plus fuel efficiency – is why we’re going to offer hybrid variants of our most popular and high-volume vehicles, allowing our loyal, passionate customers to become advocates for the technology,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets, in a statement.

The smaller off-roader is even more of a mystery. What platform it uses remains unknown, and powertrains are anyone’s guess. There’ll be EcoBoost power, though — you can count on it. Obviously, there’s a certain capability implied when an automaker calls something an “off-road” model. This vehicle, due date unknown, should surpass the off-pavement antics of, say, an Escape or EcoSport.

Given the timing of the announcement, we’ll surely learn more information at this month’s New York Auto Show.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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4 of 35 comments
  • Mikehgl Mikehgl on Mar 16, 2018

    Ford's following the sheeple masses where they are roaming - to trucks and sport utility platforms. Can't blame them. Why plow billions into car platforms "just in case" another shock comes down the pipeline? The world has changed since the last go-around with oil embargo's, peak oil and the like. The good ol' USA is about to become the largest producer of crude on the flat earth. Merika! Never say never, yes, but what scenario places the automakers back into the same situation that befell them in decades past? It's difficult to imagine.

    • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on Mar 16, 2018

      Total electrification is going to happen before the "oil shock". It may be helpful to re-consider the obstinate desire to live in the past.

  • Kato Kato on Mar 16, 2018

    It doesn't need a solid front axle to be capable off-road. Tacoma and 4-Runner do just fine with IFS. Rock-crawlers can continue to buy Wranglers, the rest of us might enjoy something just a tad more optimized toward being a decent handling/riding daily driver.

    • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Mar 16, 2018

      This. I see tons of 4Runners around here with not so much as dirty fender flaps. They buy for the *image* of toughness more so than the *need* for toughness. The baby 'Bronco' actually looks more like a FCA product, imo.

  • Theflyersfan It's the mother of all "ifs" - if Mazda gets the small rotary/hybrid combo going, I can see them using that in the next MX-5. Can they keep it under 2500 lbs and somewhat affordable? Not sure...this is why I don't run a car company! But if they want to replace it around 2025, and it's 2023 now, they need to get started very soon with some rumors and leaks to keep us going. But with the rest of their lineup going greener in next generations, and Mazda selling under 10,000 MX-5s per year, how does it really impact any average emissions and fuel economy ratings? If they can keep tweaking the Skyactiv-G engine for better fuel economy and fewer emissions, they should be able to get the NE generation using gasoline before being forced to go EV or hybrid with the NF. The mission of the MX-5 is light, affordable, open air fun and it's their halo car. And while I agree that EVs are going to be a much larger part of the future, the "all things by 2035 or 2040 or so on" edicts have "kick the can down the road" written in massive font size 1,000 written all over them. We'll be on gas for a while longer - just continue to eke more mpg out of what we have.All that being said, if they were to put the turbo Skyactiv-G engine in the MX-5 for 2024 and make it a Mazdaspeed model, I'd put a deposit on it right now. I love mine, but if it gets bumped up from 181hp to 250-275hp, it would be a flat out riot to drive.
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  • Tassos extinct. It is a mickey mouse vehicle -toy that was always extinct for me. Its current interior room is fit only for small females. No wonder it is very popular with chicks. An Adult male can fit in, but can';t comfortably stretch on a longer trip, not to mention the non-existing trunk. The stupid car does not even have room for a young couple and their weekend luggage. So, it's JUST A TOY. When you grow up, you want something much more than a DAMNED TOY. Zoom-zoom?
  • Theflyersfan I need to find the numbers but I remember reading that when back in 2020 when global lockdowns took hold, Mazda had the best sales year in years on the MX-5 given people wanted to drive something fun, top down, and get outdoors given everything indoors was closed. I daily my 2022 MX-5 RF GT and in 11 months, have just broken 15,000 miles. It's been out east twice, all over parts of the Midwest, and does my daily commute. All to the tune of 34-35 mpg in mixed driving, compliments at stoplights and getting gas (the Soul Red looks so good on that car), and with excellent winter tires, got me through the light snow and moderate ice on my way into work this morning. I'm able to fit two carry-on size bags, one large backpack, and some odds and ends in trunk. One of the few things I wish I could change is interior storage. Why Mazda couldn't carve out door pockets or install nets is beyond me. The center cubby can only hold so much. The stereotype of this being a chick car, a sorority car, etc., died a long time ago. It is a track car, one you can have serious fun in, one you can take on trips, cheap to fuel (even with wanting 93 octane) and insure, and still looks good. If you love to drive, and are at a stage where you can live with this as a daily, don't mind renting something larger if you need it, and know how to drive a stick and want some fun, get one. New, used, whatever. And I'll add my future predictions in the new MX-5 posting.
  • FreedMike It shouldn't be offered in the color shown in that picture, for starters. Make them all Soul Red. I would say there should be two: a "classic" Miata with conventional power, and an EV version. Imagine a Miata with 300 lb/ft of instant torque. I'd be interested.