After ending production in 1996, the legendary Ford Bronco is making a comeback. Ford announced the Bronco's eventual return at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit back in 2017, and we've been waiting patiently ever since.
Pictured above and throughout: speculative renderings of the 2020 Bronco from fan-forum Bronco6G.com.
There is quite a lot we know about the Bronco, based on credible rumors and comments from various Ford higher-ups since the announcement of the 4x4's return. We've compiled all that info for you here.
This story will be continually updated as new information is learned. The most recent update was published on 3/11/2020.
Here Are a Bunch of Leaked Photos
A leaked picture (shown above) published on fullsizebronco.com on March 9 from what looks to be the inside of a factory seems to show the all-new Bronco fully undisguised in four-door form. The window lines match up with the leaked two-door variant pictures we saw earlier in the month, while round headlights seems to be identical to the ones used on the camouflaged trucks pictured below. There's a small chance this could be a photoshop, but judging by what we know, we think this might be the real thing.
The same day, a two-door hard top version of what's almost certainly a new Bronco also appeared on fullsizebronco.com, and later appeared on Bronco6G.com without watermarking. Then, two days later, pictures of a black four-door model in a seemingly tamer spec (shown below) made their way onto Bronco6G.com.
Pictures of the "Baby" Bronco Have Leaked
Pictures of what look to be the production Bronco Sport—the regular Bronco's smaller, cheaper sibling—have made their way online via broncosportforum.com. The design matches up to the SUV shown during a leaked presentation slide from a private Ford event in November 2018. These pictures also look confirm the Bronco Sport's name. Previously, it was thought the truck could use the name "Maverick."
It Might Get a Manual Transmission
Jalopnik reported in 2018 the Bronco might get a seven-speed manual transmission to be paired with Ford's 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. Presumably, if the Bronco does get this engine, it'll likely be paired with a 10-speed auto, too. In the Edge ST, Ford's 2.7-liter makes 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, while it offers 325 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque in the F-150.
Documents online discovered in March 2020 by a Bronco6G.com forum user (and highlighted by The Drive) shows what seem to be specs for a possible seven-speed Getrag manual transmission for the Bronco. Called the MTI550, it's a modular transmission that can support five, six, or seven gears, with compatibility for rear- or all-wheel drive and hybrid powertrains. There's also an option for a "crawler" gear—a necessary tool for hardcore off-roading.
A manual might seem like an odd choice for a new SUV, but when you consider that the Bronco is aimed directly at the Jeep Wrangler, it makes sense.
Jeep has been incredibly successful in recent years, and Ford wants a piece of the pie. The most important thing Ford needs to mount an attack on Jeep is a competitor to the venerable, and wildly popular Wrangler. That's where the Bronco comes in.
It's why—unlike Chevy with the new Blazer—Ford wants this thing to be a serious off-roader. Using the body-on-frame Ranger platform might make the Bronco a little less refined on road, but much tougher off road.
Does Ford's ambition to beat Jeep mean there could be a hardcore Wrangler Rubicon-competitor on its way? We hope so, but we don't know for certain.
It Could Have These Cool Removable Door Pieces
A recent Ford patent filing discovered by the Bronco6G.com forum shows what seem to be removable door sub-assemblies with inner bars for the Bronco. It could allow owners to remove just the inner part of the door to feel that open-air sensation without having to go through the tedious process of removing the entire assembly. Under the inner piece sits a double-bar structure that protects occupants when the inner piece is removed. We're curious to see if this makes production.
Here's the Two-Door Version Testing in the Snow
Our spy photographer recently spotted the much-anticipated two-door version of the Bronco testing out in the snow, equipped with all-terrain tires and the same camouflage design we've seen used on the longer-wheelbase four-door models. A two-door Bronco makes sense—it's supposed to be a Wrangler competitor, after all. And you can get the Wrangler in two- or four-door body styles.
The Doors and Roof Will Come Off
One of the big appeals of the Wrangler are that its doors and roof are removable. The same will be true of the Bronco, which according to Automotive News, will offer a removable hardtop and doors that can be stored in the trunk. Apparently, the mirrors will be mounted to the A-pillars, and not the doors as on a Wrangler. This means you'll still have mirrors when you take the doors off. Patents filed by Ford and discovered by the Bronco6G.com forum show a unique latching and restraint system for doors that can be removed without tools (shown above).
Another patent filed by Ford and discovered by Car and Driver shows a removable roof structure (shown above) that takes the B-, C-, and D-pillars along with it. More patents submitted by Ford in April 2019 and published by Bronco6G.com indicate the Bronco could use a roll-out mesh roof or soft top to substitute for the hardtop once it's removed. A mesh piece would allow air to come into the cabin while blocking out sunlight. The patent drawings also suggest the cloth top could deploy behind the vehicle to create a makeshift tent area. Clever.
It Might Have Repackable Airbags
A patent recently filed by Ford and discovered by Car and Driver seems to show a design for side-curtain airbags that can actually be repacked after deployment. Why? Well, the airbags can hinder driver visibility, and if you're driving in a secluded off-road area where emergency assistance isn't nearby, you're better off just repacking the used airbags so you can see where you're going. We're curious to see if either of these features actually make production.
There Will Be A Baby Bronco, Possibly Called "Maverick"
Ford can't fight Jeep with just one truck. That's why it's working on a rugged-looking little SUV based on the front-wheel drive unibody Ford Focus platform. It was previewed (and leaked) at a Ford dealer event in Las Vegas last November after being confirmed by Ford product VP Hau Thai-Tang last August.
It seems to us, this will be Ford's attempt at coming up with a rival for the Jeep Renegade; not something like a Suzuki Jimny, unfortunately.
A member on the Bronco6G forum discovered several part numbers for the name Maverick, suggesting the Baby Bronco could carry the Maverick name. Interestingly, the parts are listed for a 2020 model year vehicle. Last year, Bronco6G sources informed the forum Maverick was the name being used internally for the car. Whether that name will make it to the market has yet to be seen.
Here it Is Testing on the Road
A prototype for the new Bronco has been spotted by our spy photographer again, and this time around, it was on the road. This truck is rocking some beefy Goodyear Wrangler all-terrains—a big upgrade over the smaller rubber set from before. We also get a close look at the grille and parts of the underside.
Here's Your First Real Look at it in the Flesh
Up until now, we've only seen renderings and spy shots of test mules, not actual Bronco prototypes. Our spy photographer caught this new Bronco test truck driving through a snow-packed field. Though it's covered in a lot of camouflage, there's a clearly defined profile that resembles something like a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen or a Jeep Wrangler. A true, rugged off-roader with a squared-off body. We can also see an exterior-mounted spare tire and some curious roof camouflaging.
Here it Is Testing in the Desert
Ford uploaded a short video of a camouflaged Bronco prototype testing in Johnson Valley, an off-roading area in California. It doesn't reveal anything we don't already know about a truck, but it's a good look at what sorts of high-level terrain it can handle.
Ford's New Bronco R Baja Racer Previews the Production Version
Ford revealed a Baja-ready race truck called the Bronco R back in November with the intention of racing it at this year's Baja 1000. According to the company, its design takes inspiration from the upcoming road-going model. That means this truck is our best look yet at what the new Bronco might look like. We hope the light bars make production.
The truck made a supreme effort in the Baja 1000, but failed to finish. According to Trucks.com, it was pinned by another truck early in the race, and suffered skid plate damage, exposing vital drivetrain components to sharp rocks. Later on, the truck began to overheat, and was towed back to the pits. After the truck was fixed, Ford decided to retire it from the event rather than risk more damage or a permanent mechanical failure.
It'll Arrive Spring 2020
Ford released a video on Facebook and Twitter confirming the Bronco's new logo, along the truck's premiere in spring 2020.
Automotive News previously reported that at a recent dealer event in Palm Springs, Ford executives said the Bronco would arrive in showrooms in late 2020, a few months after the Baby Bronco. A few months after that, the unibody pickup would arrive. It's a long wait, especially for a truck announced in early 2017.
It Might Spawn a Pickup Truck
Ford already has a mid-size pickup on the market, the Ranger, but it might give the Bronco a bed, too. Automobile magazine reports that this truck will arrive in 2024 as a competitor to the Jeep Gladiator, a pickup based on the Bronco's closest rival, the Wrangler. Ford has made its intent to compete with Jeep quite clear, so it's easy to understand why the Blue Oval would want a Bronco pickup, even if it already has the Ranger in production.
This Raptor-Based Test Mule Could Be a Full-Size Bronco
Spy photographers managed to capture this strange truck testing recently in Michigan, and we think it's a test mule for the new Bronco. Why? Well, it's too wide to be a Ranger, and Ford doesn't make a single cab F-150 Raptor. Plus, judging by our rough estimates, the dimensions line up.
Here's a Camouflaged Test Mule Driving Around Michigan
Our spy photographer managed to nab some good shots of a Bronco test mule out in public in Michigan. The bodywork is clearly from a current-generation Ranger pickup, but note how far back the rear wheels are pushed in this mule. Short overhangs are great for off-roading, so it seems like Ford is really trying to make this thing a Jeep rival. This truck is also wearing BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires, which you can get for FX4-package Rangers and on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
This Is What its Headlights Will Supposedly Look Like
We still haven't gotten a great idea of what the Bronco will look like, since prototypes are still running heavy camoflauge. But now that we're getting closer to the production phase, a friend of someone claiming to be involved in the Bronco's development leaked this photo on Bronco6G.com.
It suggests that the Bronco will maintain its iconic look, referencing the original Bronco rather than new Ford trucks in its light signature. Despite being a modern light with what appears integrated LED daytime running lights, the leaked headlight mirrors the look of the sealed-beam headlights on the first-generation Bronco.
It Will Likely Come in at Least 10 Colors
Thanks to touch-up paint listings spotted by MotorTrend, we learned about ten paint color options. Dramatically named options include "Antimatter Blue Metallic" and "Fighter Jet Gray," but AutomotiveTouchUp.com also shows samples of what each color will look like. Based on those, "Cyber Orange Pearl" and "Area 51" look like the most interesting options.
There Will Reportedly Be a Two-Door
The Jeep Wrangler's huge success is directly attributable to the availability of a four-door model, but you can still get a short-wheelbase two-door version. Ford will almost assuredly offer a four-door Bronco, but there's been a question if there'll be a two-door to rival the shorty Wrangler.
But, Automotive News now reports that at a recent dealer event in Palm Springs, Ford showed off a two-door Bronco prototype. Dealer sources speaking anonymously to Automotive News said the Bronco had a retro design with round headlights and a square grille with the truck's name stamped across.
It'll Be Based on the New Ranger
When Ford announced the Bronco was making a comeback, it also confirmed that the mid-size Ranger would make a return. The 2019 Ranger arrived last January, and we've already driven it.
Back in 2017, Ford global operations president Joe Hinrichs confirmed to Road & Track that the Bronco and the Ranger would share a platform. The Ranger might be new for the US, but it's actually somewhat of an old truck—it was released originally for the Asia-Pacific market in 2010 and received a significant update in 2015. For the US, the platform was modified even further still, with a new, fully-boxed frame.
Ford already offers an SUV based on the Ranger outside the US—the Everest. Back in 2017, former Ford product head Raj Nair said that the Bronco would not just be a rebadged Everest, but instead, its own unique machine.
It Will Likely Offer a 2.7-Liter EcoBoost Engine
Ford Authority, citing sources familiar with the project, reports that the Bronco will offer a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6. That's in line with what Ford offers in the F-150, Edge ST, and Lincoln Nautilus. That engine is good for up to 335 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque in the Edge ST and Nautilus, but the slightly less powerful, torquier version in the F-150 makes 325 hp and 400 lb-ft.
It's probably not going to be the only engine, though. We've also seen suggestions from third-party retailers that the Bronco will get the Ranger's 2.3-liter EcoBoost. In the Ranger, that powerplant is good for 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. We'd expect the 10-speed automatic to be available alongside either engine option, but there might be another transmission option.
A Hybrid Version Is a Definite
Ford's other big push beyond beating Jeep is to embrace electrification across its lineup. That's why it has a number of all-electric vehicles in the works, and a number of hybrids planned. Explorer and Police Interceptor hybrids are already here, and per Ford's quarter-one 2018 earnings report, a Bronco hybrid is on the way too, alongside electrified versions of the Mustang and F-150.
What that hybrid drivetrain will consist of? We're not sure. The Explorer/Police Interceptor Hybrid combines a 3.3-liter V-6 with an electric motor housed within a 10-speed automatic transmission. That at least gives us some indication as to what future Ford hybrids, including the Bronco, would look like.