By on March 15, 2018

Image: Ford

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.

Image: Ford

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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35 Comments on “2020 Ford Bronco Gains Hybrid Variant, Smaller Off-road Sibling...”

  • avatar

    Bronco II for the smaller one – no baggage in that name.


    • 0 avatar

      One could say it rolls…right off your tongue.

    • 0 avatar

      I was on my to work at GM back in ‘93, in my Bronco II, when I entered a roundabout a little too quickly. I went up on two wheels, I nearly had a heart attack. I’ve been in serious wrecks but nothing scared me as much as that near mishap. Very unstable platform.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I remember when Ford recalled them after a few lawsuits and a Not Acceptable CR review.
        When they were designed they used a shortened Ranger platform, way too short. So they sent owners a VHS of how to drive your vehicle safely.
        You can still find a few around, many were turned into off road mudders.

        • 0 avatar

          Given the Bronco II narrowness and BOF design they were a good candidate for a solid axle swap. Make the new axles wider than stock, fit some flares, and they become a little less tippy while being far more capable.

    • 0 avatar

      I spent a lot of years in an ’84 Bronco II as a child and we never once rolled over. I will say the ’94 Explorer was a considerable upgrade room-wise for three kids squished into the back bench.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing the two tone brown Bronco IIs make a comeback for nostalgia’s sake.

  • avatar

    Well they definitely have my attention.

    Possible wrangler and 4runner competitors?

    Still when I read these plans and hear about the Fusion going away…. Does it feel a little bit like the 90s and early 2000s to anyone else? Where Detroit manufacturers all make money hand over fist with well designed trucks and suvs while walking away from cars?

    • 0 avatar

      That is EXACTLY what is happening. Ford and FCA are both about to completely abandon the passenger car department because they can’t compete and make money on them TODAY. They have both become focused on short term benefits only and will pay the price in the long run. It’s quite sad to hear their delusion rationale that they can build these turds with fuel efficiency in mind. 22 MPG woo hoo! When the next gas shock occurs (and it will) they will be left holding the bag again when competitors have full electric or at least economical sedans getting 40+ mpg.

      At least GM seems to have learned the lessons of the past and are now fully committed to going fully electric and have not (yet) given up on the car market to the Japanese. BTW I’m not a tree hugging greenie, but this is a train wreck you can see a mile away.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford will at least have cars in other markets that can be adapted to the US relatively quickly if conditions so dictate. I don’t think FCA will even have that. It’s not like they’re going to sell great volumes of Pandas and Puntos here.

        But I think GM’s approach is much lower-risk. And it will probably lead me to go to GM when my current Ford lease is up in a year (I expect we’ll lease a Bolt).

      • 0 avatar

        @ttiguy: One of the folks over at who tracks “oil shock” said it is quite likely that around June/July of this year we could see increased volatility in the oil markets with the associated ripple into the stock market. He’s tracked this stuff since the 90s, if I remember right. He made it clear it was not a prediction of certainty, but from his research it looked possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Judging by the images I’ve seen of the new Bronco II it appears to have IFS.

      I don’t imagine it will be as great off road as the Wrangler.

  • avatar

    Looks a bit FJ cruiserish in the 2nd pic.

  • avatar

    Oh lord, is it going to be a Jeep Renegade competitor? Or does Ford have a small truck frame based SUV somewhere in Asia that they can import?

  • avatar

    If that is the actual Bronco then colour me translucent white.

    I was hoping for something like the Brazilian Troller as opposed to another egg shaped soft-roader. The current Troller is built on the T6 Ranger.

  • avatar

    No one can compete with Wrangler. Ford will learn a hard lesson as did Toyota FJ, Nissan Xterra or that small Hummer. Jeep Wrangler is an icon. Nuff said.

    • 0 avatar

      With that logic, nobody should build a sports car besides Mustang or a truck besides F-Series. What a boring world we would have with no competition.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure if the Xterra was every pitched as a direct Wangler competitor, they sold very well initially before the recession that coincided with Nissan letting it wilt on the vine with almost no updates for literally a decade.

    • 0 avatar

      Only a small core group of off-roaders actually use the Wrangler as intended. It has a very loyal following and you aren’t going to pry it out of their cold dead hands. Anyone could build a vastly superior machine and you won’t convince those buyers to leave.

      I’ve watched quite a few videos on the Brazilian Troller and if the Bronco is similar, it will have excellent off-road capabilities.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      The vehicles you suggested as Wrangler competitors, are in fact not Wrangler competitors. The only market space they would compete with the Wrangler is by the “hairdresser set” who buy these things as a facade to impress others.

      Oh, the definition of the hairdresser set is “wow, others when they see me in my Wrangler will think I’m cool, wild and a crazy outdoorsy type”.

      Wrangler once had 70 Series Toyotas, Land Rover 110s, etc as competitors. These are more akin to the Wrangler in design and function.

      The vehicles you suggested have IFS for starters and are more for impression than operation. They might be nice vehicles and relatively capable off road, but their off road prowess would be no better than any midsize SUV wagon with 4 hi and 4 lo (Pajero, Prado, Everest, Fortuna, etc).

    • 0 avatar

      Suzuki gave it a shot for many years. Samurai, Sidekick, X90, Vitara, Tracker all entry level Wranglers if you squinted :)

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Ouch, looks like my Wrangler has to soldier 2 more years because I can swap it out for this. Honestly, I just about settled onto a JL in a year’s time. I have a 2-door model, so if Bronco II (or III) comes with 2 doors, I’ll take it. Hopefully it’s a little bit narrower!

  • avatar

    I’m concerned that Ford is simply going to label all their SUVs as Bronco.

    Assuming I’m wrong and this really is a mini-Bronco, with a decent towing capacity, I’m very interested.

  • avatar

    Ummm… Doesn’t look like a rebadged Everest.

    Why Ford would sell the Everest here, the Expedition and a RWD Explorer all at the same time defies logic. I’m sure we can lay the “the Bronco will be the Everest” bs to rest now.

    To those predicting the next “gas shock” and hoping it will turn everyone (aside from Avis, Enterprise and Budget already there) back to Corollas, that ship has sailed. The market is demanding utilities and trucks, sorry if you don’t like it. This is not a secret.

    And lets ignore the fact that the Bronco and F-150 Hybrids are coming. Nope, its all so hopeless. They all get 13 MPG on a good day with no help in sight. Not innovation, technology, or modern design can help that. Its either a miserable little penalty box people hate, or certain death when Peak Oil makes a comeback.

  • avatar

    I don’t see mini-Bronco in the smaller vehicle, I see return of the original. square, masculine, utilitarian Escape that still enjoys strong resale and demand due to so many people being turned off by the current generic crossover one. So that’s what I see here. A “rugged” alternative to the Escape.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Ford is supposed to invest $9 billion into new SUVs. I wonder if Ford is biting off more than it can chew. Ford needs to do something, but here in Australia Ford prices have risen beyond that of Toyota which are ridiculously overpriced.

    Ford is no BMW, Mercedes Benz or Audi.

    Combine this with the massive aluminium wunder trux investment, which Ford also used commodity prices (metals) as an excuse for it’s poor performance this past year. Other manufacturers were better positioned to manage the commodity price burden.

    Also, going against Ford is all other major manufacturers have the same plan or already have better SUVs and pickups.

    Oh, Ford, if anyone is home in Dearborn, try at least putting a 2.7 EcoThirst into the global Ranger. Have a simple 2WD 2.7 that can be made into a low rider and modified by FPV, sort of a “Tremor Ranger” (without the ridiculous speed limiting like the US has at 98mph on all pickups) glad we don’t have that!

    I hope US style Socialism with tariffs etc and huge corporate debt works out well.–baby–bronco-confirmed-as-part-of-new-suv-push-117641.html?ffref=smh&trackLink=SMH1

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

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