Rumors of the return of the iconic Ford Bronco have been flowing through automotive nerd circles for awhile now. However, this past week the doors on the rumor mill were busted open and now with the news going mainstream. Nearly everyone seems to know now that Ford plans to revive the Bronco, but yet no one seems to know anything about it.
Typically, any press is good press, but perhaps not in this case. The mainstream has been exposed to grandiose renderings that are loosely based on history and the 2004 Bronco Concept that may or may not be remotely close to what actually shows up in showrooms. The press is setting the stage for one hell of a return – as if the new Bronco is going to pick up where the 1977 model left off. Basically, the public is expecting a Jeep Wrangler from the Blue Oval.
And who knows? Maybe a Wrangler type SUV is exactly what Ford in planning with the new Bronco. The only thing we know for sure is that it will share a basic architecture with the upcoming midsize Ford Ranger pickup, which will also roll down the assembly line at Michigan Assembly Plant. That said, just about every configuration of SUV is hot from a sales perspective, so the sky is really the limit with this one.
There are a few leading indicators to suggest that Ford will honor the fanboys with the new Bronco though. The first is the 2004 Bronco Concept. Granted, it’s over 10 years old at this point, but the thesis of that concept was remarkably production “thoughtful.” Ford went so far as to release a specifications sheet on it, down to engine performance and dimensions. Such detail is unusual from a concept vehicle with zero chance of production.
The other lesser-known indicator from Ford is one that lies all the way in South America. In 2007 Ford acquired Troller, a local maker of off-road vehicles in the Brazilian market. Since the acquisition Troller has launched an all-new Troller T4, which is basically a Jeep Wrangler that may actually be a little tougher than the Jeep since Brazil is notoriously tough on off-roaders. The T4 is now built on Ford’s T6 platform, which also underpins the global Ford Ranger truck. Remember how the new Ranger and Bronco are supposed to share platforms?
Is the Troller T4 our Bronco? Absolutely not. Nothing about the T4 is ready to be federalized for the North American market, nor would be competitive where we need heated steering wheels and surround view cameras added on to our mud-kicking SUVs. The point is that the likely predecessor to the Bronco/Ranger platform has already spawned a Wrangler-style SUV.
The last indicator is pure anecdote, but relevant. Lately Ford has been rather spectacular at producing vehicles that induce drooling from the enthusiast elite. From the badass Focus RS to the revived GT, the Blue Oval knows how to be badass when it wants to be. The question with the Bronco is if they’re going to continue badass, or if we’re going to end up with a vehicle solely for the suburbanites who want to look tough.