We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Ford Bronco is making a comeback, ever since it was first announced at the North American International Auto Show back in 2017. As we draw closer to its slated 2020 release, however, more information has become available or leaked from behind closed doors at Ford. While we don’t know everything just yet, there are already a lot of things that clearly set it apart from other Ford SUVs and make a case for it becoming a major competitor for the Jeep Wrangler.
A lot of these details are still only rumors, but so far quite a few of them have been more-or-less confirmed by folks at Ford. So while you shouldn’t make any major plans based on this information, it would be a huge surprise if any of these turn out to be false. With that in mind, if you’re interested in a serious off-road SUV, but if you don’t want a Jeep Wrangler, then you’ve got something major to look forward to in 2020.
Both Four-Door and Two-Door
The more I find out about the 2021 Ford Bronco compared to other Ford SUVs; the more one thing becomes abundantly clear: it’s being designed as a direct competition against the Jeep Wrangler. Ford has definitely set its sights on Jeep and the ways they have been successful over the years. The upcoming Bronco is going to be their first shot in a serious exchange against Jeep, and it will be interesting to see how things shake out.
Everything points toward a four-door model of the Bronco being available, but there has been some question regarding the possibility of a two-door version. One of the Wrangler’s biggest strengths is that it is available as either a four-door or two-door version. All signs indicate that Ford is following suit as rumors have emerged that dealers were shown a two-door Bronco prototype behind closed doors. This could be the opening salvo of Ford vs. Jeep when anyone interested in a Wrangler could find similar – perhaps superior – options in the new Bronco.
Removable Doors and Roof
Speaking of which, one of the design elements that Jeep is known for among its fans, and even casual drivers, is the ability to remove the doors and the roof. This open-air design is a quintessential aspect of the Jeep Wrangler, and most images of it that you’ll see in marketing shows the Wrangler, open to the elements, going brazenly off-road. Once again, Ford is setting itself up to go completely toe-to-toe against Jeep with a similar design.
Apparently, not only will the doors and hardtop of the upcoming Ford Bronco be removable, unlike any other available Ford SUV, but the side mirrors are attached to the A-pillars rather than the doors. With a Jeep Wrangler, if you remove the doors, you lose your side mirrors – while the Bronco will keep them for you when you take the doors off. Rumors also point to an optional mesh roof or soft top that can be rolled into place once the roof is removed to protect you from the sun, which can even be stretched out behind the parked vehicle to create shelter.
A Powerful Engine
Although Ford has not officially revealed anything about the engine that will be in the upcoming Bronco, there are some rumors and educated guesses that have been made. We know for sure that the new Bronco will be based on the current Ford Ranger, using the same platform and with a body-on-frame chassis. It’s likely, therefore, that the Bronco will have the same engine that is available on the Ranger.
This is a 2.3L Turbo engine that provides up to 270 hp and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s also possible that a turbo V6 engine could be an option on the 2021 Bronco, which is currently found in the Ford F-150, but there’s nothing to indicate if this is definitely going to happen or not. Either way, unlike a lot of other Ford SUVs, the new Bronco is designed with the heart of a pickup and a body built for going off-road.
Hybrid Option Incoming!
Perhaps one of the most exciting rumors going around about the upcoming Bronco is that it will, either at release or shortly after that, will have an option for a hybrid engine. Ford has pushed hard on a commitment to hybrid and electric engines going forward, with hybrid options already available on some Ford SUVs like the Explorer and Police Interceptor.
Nothing official has been released yet, so there are no hard details on what that hybrid engine might look like. The Police Interceptor hybrid, however, has a 3.3L V6 engine with an electric motor, so that is a little hint at what we might see in a hybrid Bronco. It would be interesting to see something like the V6 from the Ford F-150 paired with an electric motor in a hybrid configuration, but we’ll have to wait for more details from Ford.
We Could See a Manual Transmission
Right now, the Ford Ranger comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Since the 2021 Bronco will use the same platform and is expected to have the same engine, it will also likely have the same transmission. However, if we see a second option for the engine like the 2.7L V6, then a different transmission might also be available.
Remember that everything we’ve seen about the Bronco indicates that Ford wants it to go head-to-head with the Jeep Wrangler. As such, a manual transmission as an option seems like a natural choice for anyone into serious off-roading. A 7-speed manual transmission is available with the 2.7L V6 engine in the F-150, so it would not at all be surprising to see that in the Bronco too.
Expect some Familiar Touches
While there are some spy photos of prototype Broncos going on test runs, they lack much in the way of exterior detailing. Some rumors and reports have come out from behind closed doors where the new Bronco has been teased to industry insiders, but nothing concrete. From those reports, however, a picture is starting to form regarding what this thing will look like.
Unlike a lot of other Ford SUVs that are clearly designed to look like the current car market, the 2021 Bronco will feel like more of a throwback. Early rumors have talked about an altogether boxy design with round headlamps and a square grille. This seems to me like a smart move for Ford – release a new Bronco that immediately plays on nostalgia and fond memories people have of the successful models from before, with features that make it a clear threat to the Wrangler.
Two Other Models to Look Forward To
Even though the upcoming Bronco isn’t even available yet, or fully revealed, there are already rumors about two other models that could spawn from it. For one thing, Ford might be working on a pickup based on the Bronco design to compete with the Jeep Gladiator coming out. While it might seem strange to base a truck off an SUV, the goal would be for a Bronco pickup to focus on an off-road experience rather than general use like the Ranger.
Word is also going around that Ford is working on a smaller version, a little brother to go with the Bronco and be released a few months after it. This “baby Bronco” as people have started calling it, might be called the Bronco Scout and offer an off-road-focused smaller model with a unibody design. This would give Ford a direct competitor to the Jeep Renegade, further establishing that Ford is on the attack and going for Jeep’s throat.