By on August 10, 2018

Image: Ford

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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29 Comments on “Ford’s Baby Bronco Sounds More Like a Butch Escape...”


  • avatar

    The way they are talking about this does not give me good feels. An Escape Trailhawk for $8,000 more.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I was hoping for a rebadged Troller not a unibody SUV with larger tires.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        The (bigger) Bronco will be based on the same platform (T6 Ranger) as the Troller. It was always known that this product would be unibody, but the bigger Bronco won’t.

        I’m thinking Bronco will be halfway between the Troller and the Everest, making it capable off-road, but practical enough to be a daily driver (without stepping on the family-truckster Explorer).

  • avatar
    Ryan

    The Ranger, Bronco, and now this. In my world view, Ford is positioning itself nicely. I don’t own a Ford, not sure that I will in the future – but their transformation impresses me. A Focus Active would not fit my needs but I am interested to see what the final product will look like.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meh spend your money on a clean Bronco II with a solid axle conversion, fender flares, and a wider track to keep it shinny side up.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryan

      It’s been well over 20 years now, but the Bronco II was my first vehicle. As a teenager, I’m not sure what my parents were thinking. When I think back to those times, it does make me smile.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        In the area of the Midwest that I grew up in there were a fair number of Ford employees (the Lima Engine Plant was not far away) but the only use I remember of Bronco II were basically as hunting rigs. They were certainly dangerous but fortunately I don’t remember too many being used as family rigs.

        In the Midwest rust usually ate them before too many teenagers could get their hands on one.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        weren’t they kind of prone to tip over?

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          Yes, the wheelbase was a shortened Ranger, too short and when making sharp turns, Army Jeep manual J-turn can tip on two wheels.
          Apparently they had higher crash and injury rates than the Suzuki Samurai.
          Ford did settle with a number of people affected and did a recall which consisted of sending a how to drive video to owners.

        • 0 avatar
          thundercloud47

          That’s what they claim.
          I owned one from 1988 to 2006. I’d have owned it longer but it was taken out by someone running a red light.

          Mine would give me plenty of warning it was about to tip. Especially when I took a corner too fast. Mine never rolled over on me.

          My wife drove it even faster than I did.She learned how to react when it was about to roll.

          To this day I miss my B-2. I sold it to a farmer who uses it strictly off road. He is still driving it.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    what’s wrong with a “butch” escape?
    until we see one and drive one, you can’t make it sound so wrong.
    not any more than a unibody Outback or Cherokee.

    jeep seems to have done a great job of making unibodies strong enough for off-road work.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      I’m with you. Let’s keep an open mind. I think the new Bronco could be really cool.

    • 0 avatar
      nramacciato

      people here are very narrow minded. they think they’re the majority all the time, which only boosts their egos in this echo chamber of theirs. it’s already shit to them and always will be.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Its much easier to assume it’ll be terrible, without knowing anything about it. (Of course, this is reversed when it’s a Toyota.)

      Unibody utilities that were/are good off-road (Grand Cherokee, XJ Cherokee, Lada Niva, etc)? No way this will be like them. Its going to be sissy little station wagon that everyone will hate.

      See how easy that was?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Jeep has one off-road vehicle and a bunch of crossovers, they don’t have any other off-road vehicles in their line up. No one expects this crossover to be able to venture any further than a dirt road.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Benefit number one of not being bailed out:

    Get to phone it in and buyers lap it up anyway because – no bailout. People Exhibit A the God awful Eco Sport. Sounds like this will be son of Eco Sport in a male oriented wrapper. Yay us!

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Wow. Ford just cant get anything right these days. First they failed with 500K of car volume per year. Now their SUVs are starting to see the rampant incompetence. A slightly beefier Escape? This has to be a joke.

    What a disappointment.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    This is a positive move. There is a spot for people who liked the V6, trucky Escape from 6 years back. They had great ground clearance; I know a few people clinging to them instead of replacing them because they are very good in the winter. It would be good to see at least the 2.7 V6 in this.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    The witness protection photo provided has elements of the Renegade, not necessarily a bad thing.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I’m really not sure how this is going to fit in with Ford’s hierarchy of SUVs and crossovers, so, this is above the Escape, but below the Edge? Oh, well, I’ll just wait and see

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I’m absolutely SICK of people who wail about BOF off-road vehicles, as if it’s something good. Remember the Cherokee, people!

    As far as “larger Renegade”, I’m not onboard. Renegade is already enormous. Although it’s not terribly long, it’s still long – longer than the 2-door Wrangler – and it’s very wide. If they did something sized like HR-V, and added a 1:20 total ratio in 1st gear, I’d give it a good look.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I’m not an engineer, but I also don’t understand the view that insists a “real” truck must be BOF. To your point, I had an ’87 Cherokee at a time when we lived in rural Ontario on gravel roads (which become near-swamps in March-April, among other charming attributes). It was pretty solid during the time we had it, and for many years thereafter when my brother-in-law had it. He was still driving in the early 2000’s.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      It is something good, in terms of absolute durability IMO. Although certainly for the vast majority of users a well engineered modern reinforced unibody would be fine for casual off-roading. BOF has a very real advantage of providing an extra layer of isolation from the road in the form of body mounts. My bigger qualm with this baby bronco concept is that it will be escape-based fwd all independent suspension which implies crappy articulation, most likely no real low range gearing, and not a serious AWD system to shuttle power adequately to the rear. More of the same like the renegade that fecklessly drones the engine and stops in its tracks when the torque converter reaches its limit.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The anti-BOF crowd always points to the Grand Cherokee, which is a great example of why unibody simply isn’t meant for strenuous activity. Those old cherokees have to have exoframes welded to their underbody to keep any sense of rigidity. Remove the doors and have fun ever getting them reattached. I’ll give it to them, the GC did have two solid axles, great engine options, but it has been proven to be unable to withstand repeated torture. Bends, cracks, and rips in the body can only be “fixed” by welding plates over the issues.

      If it doesn’t have a BOF construction it shouldn’t leave asphalt.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Bronco III ?

  • avatar
    scott25

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      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).

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    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.


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