By on March 25, 2019

Dealers got an early look at a prototype build of the upcoming Ford Bronco. Gathered in Palm Beach, FL at the behest of the automaker, dealers were asked to hand over their phones in order to avoid any leaks. Fortunately, their memories were sufficient in giving us a better idea as to what to expect come 2020.

While the event’s focus stayed on the Bronco and some of its more-interesting features, Ford also shared its plan to develop a family of off-road vehicles to complement the model. Introductory vehicles include the Bronco, its smaller counterpart, and a little unibody pickup to slot beneath the Ranger. 

Ford didn’t specify whether or not these vehicles would occupy a pseudo sub-brand but, according to Automotive News, dealers noted a similar, distinctive, styling trend among the utility models revealed in Florida — round headlamps and boxy, retro-inspired bodywork.

From Automotive News:

Dealers, after relinquishing their phones, were shown an early build of a two-door Bronco and told that a four-door version also would be offered, according to multiple sources in the room. The Bronco is designed to be customizable, with a removable hard top and removable doors that can be stored in the vehicle’s cargo area, the sources said. The side mirrors will be attached to the front pillars so they remain in place when the doors are taken off, unlike the Jeep Wrangler — one of the chief rivals Ford is targeting with its Bronco revival.

Here’s what we think happened. A few years ago, someone at Ford took a look at Jeep’s domestic sales volume and noticed it had effectively tripled since 2010. One important meeting later, the entire company decided it needed something that could more directly compete with the seven-slot brand, thus tapping into that energetic customer base. While that’s tantamount to accusing Ford of trying to ride Jeep’s coattails, it doesn’t make it a bad strategy. Ford’s master plan called for the abandonment of less-profitable cars and a focus on SUVs, crossovers, and electric vehicles. It would be foolish not to commit.

Likewise, the returning Bronco, which has been in development for a while now, finds itself hyped more by eager shoppers than the automaker. While Ford hasn’t said all that much about the vehicle, it knows its holding a stick of dynamite. Setting up a family of ORVs probably has as much to do with the presumed success of the Bronco as it does trying to out-Jeep FCA.

Dealers claimed the new Bronco “was twice as cool as I thought it would be,” and was “going to be a game changer.” No images were provided. Thus far, the manufacturer has only released a single teaser image of a very square utility vehicle under a dirty blanket.

Ford intends to build both two and four-door versions of the Bronco, “Baby Bronco,” and unibody pickup. However, it’s believed that the upcoming Mustang-inspired EV will remain a four-door affair. Bronco assembly should commence at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant (home of the Ranger) in the second half of 2020. Its pint-sized sibling should beat it to market, according to dealers, by a few months. Meanwhile, the pickup isn’t slated to see the light of day until 2021.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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27 Comments on “Dealers Share Details of Ford Bronco Prototype, New Off-road Vehicle Family...”


  • avatar
    jatz

    It can’t be true. That windshield seems to have the pitch of a WWII Willys. Must be a windshield shade a la the ’40s.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Michigan Truck.
    Where Broncos should be made.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I won’t believe any of this until I see it on a dealer’s floor

  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    Sounds cool, but $20 says it’ll have independent front suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “it’ll have independent front suspension.”

      Isn’t that OK for the only surfaces 95% of them will ever be driven over?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I want a Jeep Wrangler, but I *don’t* want the solid front axle.

      Yeah, the Jeep faithful will tell me that I don’t really want a Jeep. And maybe they’re right.

      I just want a timeless vehicle that I can tear apart and upgrade in my driveway like an old PC, and the Jeep scene definitely provides that. But I don’t particularly want a suspension setup that looks like it came off my dad’s old Kubota tractor — and the Jeep scene is pretty wedded to that suspension setup.

      Will the new Bronco spawn this kind of aftermarket?

      What is a driveway hacker supposed to do?

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        This is why it’s time to bring back the “TWIN-I-BEAM” suspension, last seen on a Bronco of all places.

        It (TIB) combined the best of both worlds, and bushing/mount technology has improved exponentially.

        But are you sure you want to “lift” a normal 4wd SUV? Sounds like a big fat hassle to me, involving cutting, welding and god know what else.

        Kubotas have never had coil springs that I know of, but it’s true, most Bronco (original) buyers would be more concerned with street driving characteristics.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “last seen on a Bronco of all places.”

          Well if we want to get pedantic, the ’97 Ranger had twin-I beam (rwd) and Twin-traction beam (4wd), a year after the last Bronco was made in ’96.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          1965 was a great year to be a 10 year-old boy. I vividly remember the TIB commercials for Ford trucks.

          By God, thought I, this is sheer Geeee-nius!

          The ’65 Impala ads were also classic and unforgettable.

  • avatar
    loner

    Ford already has the truck market mostly covered (other than compact size), and they aren’t really looking to branch out a lot with their cars right now. Jeeps sell well, and the Wrangler serves as a halo car for the other models Jeep sells. If Ford is going to be primarily a truck brand, why not try to emulate Jeep in that way?

    Toyota’s FJ Cruiser was a half-baby-step in this direction, but I’d love to see an automaker do it with some decisiveness.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      People often bring up the FJ Cruiser and XTerra as reasons that Ford is foolish to challenge Jeep because nobody has successfully done so.

      And what do we read here? Two and four door versions. Removable doors and top. Did the Toyota and Nissan offer these? Does Jeep? They didnt challenge the Wrangler any more than the Kia Forte challenges the Mustang. Like Chevy’s answer to the Mustang, the Bronco will compete on equal footing, offering the same options/equipment/designs/features/etc with their own flare. The only thing wrong with that analogy is that hopefully the Bronco wont have tiny windows and huge blind spots like Camaro, but I digress.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        There are two things the Jeeps have going for them that car reviewers don’t usually talk about:

        1. Timelessness. Yes, it’s mostly styling and the ability to take the fenders off — but, if you drive a 20 year old old Jeep it looks like you just have a soft spot for that era of Jeep. If you drive a 20 year old version of most other vehicles, it makes you look poor. This seems hard, but I bet some Designer can figure it out.

        2. Hackability. It’s not typical for a car company to build standardized interfaces between component and support an ecosystem of companies that make money by f*cking with your car. But this just sort of happened with the Jeep. It didn’t happen with the Xterra or the FJ Cruiser. A company which wants to really compete we with the Wrangler is going to have to work with the afternarket in an unprecedented way (for the car industry) to make everything modular and to encourage other companies to build modules. Bringing this up in a couple of years would be difficult. But this is important. Without the afternarket, the Jeep scene becomes the FJ Cruiser scene.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          “Hackability. It’s not typical for a car company to build standardized interfaces between component and support an ecosystem of companies that make money by f*cking with your car.”

          The only car that is probably as “hackable” as the Wrangler happens to also wear a blue oval (Mustang) so I certainly think they could foster that.

          Ironically, I do a ton of vehicle systems penetration testing (hacking cars) and Jeep has had what is so far the sort of Queen mother of vehicle security vulnerabilities with the U-Connect remote exploitation. They are hackable in other, not so good ways lol.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        John,

        It is amazing to me that Chevrolet still hasn’t figured out why Mustang consistently outsells Camaro.

  • avatar

    Does it mean GM is forced to resurrect Hummer brand? Cannot imagine GM staying out of orgy.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    It might be time for Corey Lewis and others who agreed to retract the “Bronco will be nothing but a Ford Everest with a different name” proclamation.

    It’s all in good fun, my friend. Not seriously trying to troll you, haha. For what it’s worth, I’m glad you were wrong. I only wish the new Explorer was an Everest with a different name, and the Aviator was just as it is. But, Ford would be pretty stupid to abandon the 7 passenger crossover (Pilot/Traverse/etc) market it thus far dominates.


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