Ford's Baby Bronco Sounds More Like a Butch Escape

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
fords baby bronco sounds more like a butch escape

Frankly, it’s doubtful many people imagined anything else.

Not content with just foisting a new Bronco on us (while keeping the design under wraps for an infuriating length of time), Ford will debut a new small SUV alongside the returning nameplate. Just don’t expect any sharing between the two.

According to a Ford exec, the “Baby Bronco” will do its best to mimic old Broncos of yore, despite sharing parts with the Escape and Focus. A body-on-frame bruiser this ain’t.

Speaking to Reuters at an investor conference, Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s executive VP of product development and purchasing, said the upcoming small utility vehicle will sell at a higher price point than the similarly-sized Escape. At the same time, it will try its best to mask its parts commonality with other unibody compacts.

With sedans and hatchbacks on the way out, doubling up in certain utility segments seems like as good a plan as any to keep Dearborn rolling in dough.

The next-gen Escape and just-unveiled Focus (of which Americans see only the crossoverized “Active” variant) rides atop Ford’s new, scalable small car architecture, and the yet-unnamed Baby Bronco will surely use this for its underpinnings. A product of streamlining, the modular platform is said to be stiffer than previous architectures, thanks to increased use of ultra high-strength steel. Fixed hardpoints means common modules can be shared between models, further reducing development costs.

A source told Reuters that the Baby Bronco will appear in 2019 for the 2020 model year, which is the same timeline as the Escape. Design-wise, the new utility vehicle will attempt to emulate the original, mid-1960s Bronco. (Given that model’s abundance of right angles, it’ll be interesting to see the result.)

While Ford hasn’t said much about the Baby Bronco, it did use the “off-road” descriptor during its announcement. Indeed, Thai-Tang referenced the model’s “off-road positioning and imagery” in his comments.

It’s assumed the little ute, which looked somewhat like a larger Jeep Renegade in Ford’s teaser image, will arrive with more trail-tackling capability than its Escape sibling.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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3 of 29 comments
  • Scott25 Scott25 on Aug 12, 2018

    Has nobody noticed how many original Escapes are still on the roads and are beloved by their owners. I know a number of owners of them who have zero interest in the current Escape, believing they ruined the nameplate. This is simply bringing back the old Escape and will be a big hit.

    • Gtem Gtem on Aug 13, 2018

      A lot of them are leaving our roads due to structural rust issues. They are real rot boxes, and the C4DE 4spd autos are about the worst that anyone has made in the last 30 years in terms of longevity. But I agree, I love the form factor of keeping it closer to an SUV in shape with bigger clearance and a squared off cargo area. Back in 2001 They were the first to put a 200hp V6 in a compact SUV and it really stood out (and was rewarded handsomely with sales).

  • Carroll Prescott Carroll Prescott on Aug 13, 2018

    If they make it butch enough then Subaru has to be worried about their female couples with dogs. If Ford plays this right, they can feature an interior made of flannel that smells of diesel fuel and has a place for a couple of golden retrievers and 2, 300 pound women.

  • Tassos I have driven exclusively manuals in my own cars for the first 30-40 years of my driving history. They were usually very affordable, fuel efficient simple vehicles with front wheel drive. Their manuals sucked (in the case of a 1983 GM vehicle I bought new) or were perfect (in my two 5-sp manual Hondas).After 2005, I started driving excellent 5 and 7 speed automatics in my own cars, which were NOT available in the US market with manuals.With today's outstanding automatics, which are also MORE, not LESS, fuel efficient than any manual, your question becomes MEANINGLESS.Because NO CAR "needs" a manual.Only some DRIVERS "WANT", NOT "NEED", a manual.Let us use language PRECISELY.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic And this too shall pass.....Ford went thru this when the model T was introduced. It took the moving assembly line to make real money. As time progressed, it got refined, eventually moving to the Model A. Same kind of hiccups with fuel injection, 4 speed automatic, Firestone tires, dashboards with no radio knobs, etc, etc, etc. Same thing with EVs. Yep, a fire or two in the parking lot, espresso time at the charging stations, other issues yet to be encountered, just give it time. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Art Vandelay 2025 Camaro and Challenger
  • Mike Beranek Any car whose engine makes less than 300 ft-lbs of torque.
  • Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.