Ford has finally revealed its new Bronco four-wheel-drive and SUV range, with two-door and four-door off-roaders joined by the smaller Bronco Sport designed as a more family-friendly option.
Despite the broad appeal of these models, none are planned for Australia as they are intended to be built in left-hand-drive only at this stage.
Although the Ford Bronco was last sold in the US in 1996, the modern version has design elements from the original model sold in the US from 1966 to 1977.
The modern Ford Bronco four-wheel-drive models are more direct rivals to the Jeep Wrangler range.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, the Ford Bronco has stolen more than a few tricks from the Jeep Wrangler playbook.
As with the Wrangler, the Bronco will come in two variants. The two-door runs on a shorter wheelbase, with what looks to be seating for four.
The four-door sits on a longer wheelbase, and is a five-seater with additional storage space at the back. These two will likely mimic the Jeep Wrangler Limited and Unlimited in terms of overall size.
The Ford Bronco looks to be loaded with tech inside, with a 12-inch infotainment display that’s capable of downloading, charting, recording and sharing off-road tracks.
The video also shows a large multifunction display in the instrument binnacle, along with dual-zone air-conditioning, and push-button start, all designed into a retro-styled and minimalistic dashboard design.
Some photos show a distressed leather interior similar to Ford F-Series trucks in King Ranch specification, and other images show colour palettes inspired directly from the original 1965 Bronco.
Off-road capability looks to be a hallmark strength of the new Ford Bronco, with some big clearance numbers touted by Ford: 294mm of ground clearance, along with 43.2° approach, 29° rampover, and 37.2° departure angles.
Ford also says the Bronco is available with 35-inch tyres from the factory across all grades, which is a common upgrade size for serious off-roaders. Increased tyre diameter gives you more grip and more ground clearance off-road.
As with the Jeep Wrangler, the Ford uses Dana 44 differentials front and rear.
The Ford Bronco will be available with locking front and rear differentials, and the video shows a button that looks like some kind of off-road tight turn ability like a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series.
Unlike the Jeep Wrangler’s live front axle, the Ford Bronco uses independent front suspension similar to the Ford Ranger Raptor. The rear axle is live and coil-sprung, but looks like it might use a Panhard Rod instead of the Ranger Raptor’s Watt’s Linkage.
Ford might have opted for a Panhard Rod to chase improved articulation and low-speed crawling ability, while the Watts Linkage is generally better for high-speed off-roading.
While Ford’s Ranger Raptor and Jeep’s Gladiator uses Fox-branded off-road shocks of varying specifications, the Bronco is set to use Bilstein off-road dampers. These have position-sensitive damping, which, effectively varies the damping forces during big suspension events.
Bilstein’s position sensitive damping is different to the internal bypassing technology that Ford’s Ranger Raptor uses, but achieves a similar end result: there is soft initial damping for comfort and off-road performance on dirt and corrugations.
Multiple stages of increased damping come into play when you approach maximum suspension compression and extension, which yields improved body control when bouncing across rough ground at high speeds. According to the video, these dampers look to have piggy-back fluid reservoirs, which improves fade resistance over long periods of fast off-road driving.
Once again mimicking the Wrangler Rubicon, the Ford Bronco uses a hydraulically-powered disconnecting swaybar for increased articulation off-road.
Engine wise, the Bronco will use Ford’s 2.7-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engine, with ‘projected’ figures of 231kW and 542Nm. This will run through either a 10-speed automatic or seven-speed manual gearbox, along with the requisite low-range transfer case.
The Bronco will be fitted with a new take on Terrain Management System, called GOAT. That stands for ‘Go Over Any Terrain’, and will allow drivers to alter characteristics of the Bronco over things like sand, mud, rock crawling and high-speed jumping. Ford's off-road crawl ratio is impressive: 94.75:1.
Stylistically, the Bronco draws heavily on the heritage of the nameplate with it’s retro styling. It’s square and boxy, with a simple front end dominated by round daytime running lights and ‘BRONCO’ emblazoned across the grille in a big, block font.
Ford also mentions over 200 ‘factory-backed’ aftermarket accessories available for the Ford Bronco, along with factory-branded accessories and the promise of more to come.
The first Bronco was revealed on 11 August 1965. And although many manufacturers might contest this, they call it ‘America’s first SUV’. Ford’s catch phrase of the video was ‘toughness of the F-Series and Spirit of the Mustang’, although the new Bronco is more closely related to the Ford Ranger’s Australian-developed T6 platform.
The Ford Bronco has a starting price of $US29,995, and Americans are able to secure a spot in the queue with a $US100 deposit.
Will the Ford Bronco be coming to Australia? Unfortunately, most signs point towards no so far. For now, the vehicle has only been confirmed for left-hand-drive production.