Editor’s Note: A representative of Ford reached out to us to confirm that the Ranger’s architecture, on which the Bronco will be based, will be steel, not aluminum. Going back through the interview transcript with our source, he actually says “aluminum body,” not “architecture.” It was an editorial mistake on our part and has been corrected. Ford would neither confirm or deny the rest of the details claimed by our source.
Back in January, at the North American Auto Show, Ford stunned everybody at its press conference when it projected the iconic bucking horse logo on the 20-foot screen accompanied by “BRONCO,” in big bold letters, and “coming in 2020.” Since then, the new Bronco has become one of the most hotly anticipated trucks in recent memory, and each and every detail, fan rendering or whisper of specs that makes the rounds is pored over meticulously. But outside of hearsay, not much has been confirmed on the 2020 Bronco. That said, a Ford engineer closely involved with the project, who wishes to remain anonymous, reached out and provided a few intimate details about the returning icon. And you might not like what he had to say.
One of the reasons the the Ford GT comeback was so successful is that it was kept secret from 99 percent of the company. Only a select few designers and engineers were free to design what they thought was best, resulting in the pinnacle of what Ford offers. The “fewer cooks in the kitchen” approach worked in the supercar’s favor. According to this engineer, however, that is not the case with the new Bronco; they cited “paralysis by analysis.” Opinions on what the Bronco should be are allegedly pouring in from Ford’s engineering, R&D, marketing and management departments. As a result, Ford is “missing the point” of what the Bronco should be.
According to our source, the Bronco is already in its third design phase — only one is typical. “They just commissioned another design study, because they feel it looks too much like a Wrangler,” said our source. “If you’re familiar with the [Ford] Troller, out of Brazil, that’s the basic concept, but it’ll look like a four-door version of that.” We were also told there won’t be a two-door version because “there’s just no market for it,” but the vehicle will have a removable modular roof that comes off in three sections (only the top sections are removable, and not the back portion, like a Wrangler’s).
“If you’re familiar with the Troller, out of Brazil, that’s the basic concept, but it’ll look like a four-door version of that.”
The many Wrangler comparisons, our source says, are due to the fact that the Wrangler Unlimited was used as a benchmark vehicle. “They want it comparable [to the Wrangler] in every way, except rock crawling. But that’s based on some of the concerns with the frame.” The concerns stem from the architecture of the Ranger platform, on which the Bronco will be based. However, the Bronco will meet water wading depth requirements of 500mm. When pressed about a high-performance “Raptor” version, the response was that “it’s not even in the works yet.”
The engineer could confirm other details, though. Ford is planning on giving the Bronco something similar to the 325 horsepower 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 found in the Fusion sedan, and “talking about even a hybrid version.” The Bronco will also come with a starting price tag in the $30,000 range.
At this point in time, the Bronco is still on track for its 2020 release, but it’s not looking like it’s going to be the hardcore, short-wheelbase Raptor everyone is hoping for. Instead, we may be simply getting Ford’s version of a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited — a decent-enough off-roader, but one that’s suburban-centric and family-friendly. As far as looks go, the Ford Troller isn’t half bad, but we think opting not to hire the artist who penned the recent computer renderings to design something brand new is a missed opportunity
The biggest question: Is the Bronco doomed before it even has a chance, or will Ford continue to buff and polish this project over the next two years to create a true Jeep Wrangler rival? We’re hoping for the latter, but with this insider information coming to light, cautious optimism seems to be the safest bet.