What we know:
- The new Bronco is coming in 2020 as one of four (or is it five now?) new utilities Ford plans to add to its lineup. It will be built alongside the Ford Ranger, which has returned to the U.S. market for 2019, at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.
- The last Bronco built was a 1996 model, and was based on the F-150 pickup. A certain infamous car chase made a white one pretty darn famous. Ford also sold a Ranger-based Bronco II from 1983 to 1990.
- That cool bucking Bronco logo will return. Ford is already using it to tease the new model.
- Folks are really, really excited about the Bronco's comeback.
What we think we know:
- While Ford hasn't confirmed it, we're nearly certain the Bronco and Ranger will share a platform. That would make the Bronco a proper body-on-frame SUV, instead of something car-based like the Escape or Edge.
- Reports say the new Bronco will be developed in Australia, which makes sense given that the current Ranger was engineered there.
What's still unclear:
- How many doors will it have? Traditionally, Broncos have always been two-doors, but there are fewer and fewer two-door SUVs these days. Jeep, one of the few to hold onto the body style, sells way more four-door Unlimiteds than it does two-door Wranglers. We'll see if the traditionalists win out or if Ford thinks more doors mean more sales.
- Will there be an off-road version from Ford Performance? The logical answer is heck yes, as it would give the F-150 Raptor some company in the showroom and the iconic Jeep Wrangler some friendly competition on the trails. We'd expect the smaller Bronco to be more focused on rock crawling, leaving the big Raptor alone to go crazy fast across wide-open desert. Now it just needs a name, preferably something also from the Jurassic period.
- What kind of engine(s) will the reborn Bronco offer? This will likely depend on what's offered in the U.S.-bound Ranger pickup, which we now know is the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Bronco variants could house even more powerful engines like the 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost. A wild rumor says the Bronco could be revealed with a seven-speed manual, too.
Here's a timeline from where we are today:March 11, 2019: More spy photos land, showing the same mule from new angles
The awkward 'ute returns in this batch of spy shots. We get to see detailed photos of whatever Ford is trying to hide with some pretty creative coverings in the rear wheel wells. Expect to see more and more of these Bronco mules as we near reveal time.
February 28, 2019: The first spy shots of what looks like a Ford Bronco test mule hit the internet
Up until this point, all we've seen of the Bronco is it supposedly sitting under a massive sheet. Now test mules are beginning to run around wearing a whole lot of camouflage. The stubby truck is clearly Ranger-based with its full Ranger cab, but everything else is quite bizarre looking. What is abundantly and wonderfully obvious is the massive amount of ground clearance this truck has.
January 14, 2019: Ford announced the next five models it will reveal, and the Bronco is one of them
Ford further defined the deadline for announcing the Bronco at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show by declaring it to be one of the next five vehicles Ford reveals over the next 24 months. The wait is nearing its end.
November 13, 2018: 2020 Ford 'Baby Bronco' images leak from dealer meeting
This one isn't the Bronco we're on the edge of our seat for, but it was cool to see photos of the more road-friendly version coming. A blocky and retro design from this vehicle gives us even more hope for how awesome the real Bronco is going to look.
January 9, 2017: Bronco confirmed, totally on purpose this time
Ford made the announcement at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show: The Bronco is returning in 2020, a year after the new Ranger midsize truck. Yeah, we already knew that, but it was nice to hear all the same. The two revived nameplates will be built alongside each other at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant.
November 18, 2016: Coming back to America, by way of Australia
A report from the Australian publication Motoring said that the new Bronco will be engineered at Ford's facilities down under. This makes sense, since Ford Asia-Pacific Product Development Center took the lead on the current Ranger pickup, as well as the Everest SUV with which it shares a platform. Since we expect the new Bronco to use a new version of that platform, it only makes sense for the job to stay in Oz.
October 3, 2016: Bronco confirmed, maybe by accident
Whether he should or shouldn't have, UAW local 900 chairman Bill Johnson let slip that the Bronco and Ranger pickup would be built in Michigan. The conversation came about because then-presidential-candidate Donald Trump was giving Ford a hard time about moving Focus and C-Max production away from the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, and shipping it off to Mexico. In an interview, Johnson said he wasn't worried about job loss because Michigan Assembly was scheduled to pick up Bronco and Ranger production instead. And that's how we got our confirmation of a reborn Bronco.
February 24, 2016: Oh, that sweet retro look
A set of awesome renderings arrived on the internet, courtesy of Bronco6G.com. Everyone swooned. The retro-futuristic design takes the best of the 2004 Bronco concept, smoothes the sharp edges, and mixes in some modern Ford lines. If the new model looks anywhere near this good, it'll be a winner.
February 11, 2016: Ford announces a utility blitz
At the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, Ford US sales and marketing vice president Mark LaNeve announced plans to introduce four new utilities (crossovers or SUVs) in the following four years, although he didn't specify precisely what they would be. We immediately thought a new Bronco was a very good bet.
March 17, 2015: It starts with a name
We uncovered a trademark filing for the Bronco name and started hoping that it meant a new version of the classic SUV was on the way. Hey, we were right! Vindication feels good.