I was wrong. Two and a half years ago, I wrote this about a cadre of fake news stories circulating and never seeming to land, like plastic bags caught high in drafts between apartment blocks. There was the mid-engine Corvette, the new Mazda RX-7, and of course, the rebirth of the Ford Bronco. Now it’s 2017, and I don’t see any midship ‘Vettes or sleek, new Rotaries, or- oh wait. Ford just announced a new Ford Bronco for 2020. Your uncle, who posted that fake news story about it back in 2013, was right.
It’s hard to pinpoint when this meme first blossomed. It probably started in 2004, when Ford unveiled this Bronco concept. Facebook wasn’t around back then, but email chains were, and I’m sure it made the re: rounds.
With the growth of social media, each new Bronco concept rendering, fan creation, and April Fool’s Day joke brought a flurry of fake news surrounding the Bronco’s impending release to the public. And each time, some people you knew shared it. Maybe they believed that story from “carautonews1.con.” Or maybe they simply projected their truth into the situation, hoping it would materialize. But they were always proven wrong, and there was never a Bronco, and people made fun of them.
This is their day.
The new Ford Bronco is real.
We learned Monday morning at the Detroit Auto Show that Ford will produce a new Ford Bronco for the 2020 model year. We have no images yet, but the news came amidst a slew of other Ford truck news, including an impending F-150 diesel and the return of the Ranger.
“We’ve heard our customers loud and clear. They want a new generation of vehicles that are incredibly capable yet fun to drive,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of The Americas. “Ranger is for truck buyers who want an affordable, functional, rugged and maneuverable pickup that’s Built Ford Tough. Bronco will be a no-compromise midsize 4×4 utility for thrill seekers who want to venture way beyond the city.”
This came during a press conference Monday morning at the Joe Louis Arena (home of my favorite hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings). The Detroit Auto Show is going on down the street at Cobo Hall, and American automaker reps are dueling each other in the street for mic time to make announcements.
“Incredibly capable” seems like a positive step. Ford’s trucks are capable enough, especially the insane Raptor. But their SUV line is pretty much just a V line, now. The Explorer only explores suburban parking garages, and the Escape can’t quite escape the pavement.
Now is the best time to release a new Bronco, a truly off-road capable SUV in the spirit of the original. It’s important, too, to associate the new Bronco with Ford Trucks, and not Ford cars. This won’t be a bigger Explorer based on an existing car platform. In fact, it will reportedly be body-on-frame. This means that it will likely have more in common with the F-150 than it does with the Taurus, and that’s a good thing.
Body-on-frame vehicles tend to have more off-road customization options, such as body lifts and more extreme suspension lifts. They’re also more flexible for stuff like rock crawling. The old Bronco was built on an F-150 frame, so why not this one?
Well, because Ford already has an SUV based on the global, T6 Ranger. It’s called the Everest, and it’s sold wherever you can get the Ranger, which is everywhere but here. So while we hope that the new Bronco will be F-150-based, it is heavily speculated that it will be a rebadged Everest. This will be disappointing to your uncle, who wanted it to look like one of the extreme concepts above.
Still, if Ford follows through with this, they would have the only American competitor to the Jeep Wrangler, a vehicle so successful, it’s propping up FCA like a cinder block. The Everest doesn’t have removable bodywork like the Jeep, but it does tout some impressive figures:
In places like Australia, where the Everest was developed, an SUV still needs the S and the U to sell well. So maybe this would be less comparable to the Wrangler and more to the older Grand Cherokee. But remember, unlike the new GC, this is a body-on-frame vehicle.
A truck-framed Bronco would also open up an ocean of aftermarket options. The Wrangler, a body-on-frame SUV, currently has about a million and a half upgrade options, and the same market could form around the Bronco.
And that’s it. That’s all we know about the Bronco so far. It will be body-on-frame, and it will supposedly be a true off-roader.
Now for what we know about the Ranger…
It’s all but guaranteed that the 2019 Ranger will be the same T6 model. But according to Ford’s product communications manager, Mark Levine:
The all-new Ford Ranger will be tailored to the needs of North American customers with unique front styling, engines and features.
— Mike Levine (@mrlevine) January 9, 2017
The current T6 can be had with a 2.5 Duratec four, a 2.2 Duratorq diesel four, and a 3.2 Duratorq diesel five (anyone else know that Ford made a five cylinder?). We don’t know if any of those will stay for the American T6. The 2.5 Duratec is the most likely candidate, and Ford also has some rather impressive Ecoboost options to add, like the Mustang’s 2.3 or the current F-150’s 2.7 V6.
Nor are they shying away from diesel, even given diesel’s current shady reputation. The 2018 F-150 will get, along with a handsome face lift, a brand spanking new Power Stroke 3.0 diesel. In an F-150! They’re also replacing the tried and true 3.5 V6 with a 3.3, and upgrading the 2.7 EcoBoost and the 5.0 V8. The latter two will receive significant reengineering to improve efficiency. Apparently they’re going to fiddle with the dual-port direct injection tech.
So there you have it. Ford isn’t content to rest on their laurels. They’re going to work. Your uncle was right about the Bronco, the Ranger is coming back, and there’s a diesel F-150 coming. Strange times.
UPDATE: Autoline.tv spoke with Ford Executive VP Raj Nair and confirmed that this will not be an Everest with a new nose, but an entirely different vehicle on the same platform. Rejoice!