Few new products have generated more of a buzz in recent years, Ford’s reborn Bronco, according to Google, generating more search queries than any other nameplate. But, finally, the long wait is over, the Detroit automaker pulling the wraps off not just one but three different models that will make up an entire new Bronco family.
Ford unveiled the SUVs during an unusual webcast blockbuster Monday night, three different versions taking their bows not only on Ford’s own Youtube outlet but also on four separate Disney channels.
“We created the Bronco family to elevate every aspect of off-road adventure and equipped them with class-leading chassis hardware and exclusive technologies to raise the bar in the rugged 4×4 segment and take people further into the wild,” said Jim Farley, Ford chief operating officer. “They’re built with the toughness of an F-Series truck and performance spirit of Mustang – and come wrapped in one of the most stunning and functional off-road designs that’s true to the original Bronco design DNA.”
While all three models will still bear Ford’s “Blue Oval” badge, expect the automaker to push Bronco as its own unique brand. And, noted its new marketing chief Mark Grueber, one of its hallmarks will be that every vehicle will be equipped with all-wheel drive, something it believes will give Bronco a leg up on competitors like Jeep and Land Rover.
Monday night’s event resolved a number of questions, starting with the basic design of the two models. The two-door and four-door Broncos are bigger, heavier and decidedly more retro, “a tribute to the original, said Grueber. The smaller Sport, meanwhile, is more modern in appearance, while still picking up on classic Bronco design cues, down to the round headlights.
Under the skin, they are very different vehicles. The two-door and four-door versions share the same underlying chassis as Ford’s Ranger pickup. Sport, meanwhile, is based a heavily modified version of the Escape crossover platform.
… While there has been some skepticism about the approach to the smaller model, don’t think it’s another soft roader …
“Bronco Sport is not an Escape with big tires,” insisted Adrian Aguirre, Sport’s chief program engineer, during a media backgrounder. “This vehicle punches way above its weight.”
What will help, Ford says, is the use on both Bronco and Bronco Sport of what the automaker has dubbed “GOAT mode,” a more sophisticated version of the Terrain Management Control found on more pedestrian Fords, like Escape and Explorer. It instantly adjusts a variety of vehicle settings, including throttle, transmission and electronic nanny systems, to maximize grip, whether riding on snow or ice, sand, mud or rock crawling.
There was a time when crossovers were the niche, classic sport-utility vehicles dominating the market. That’s turned upside down, CUVs today wildly outselling traditional, body-on-frame products like the bigger Broncos. But Ford is betting Bronco is coming along at just the right time.
The rugged off-roader segment is growing twice as fast as the overall utility-vehicle SUV market, said Grueber. So, the arrival of Bronco “let’s us compete where the biggest growth in the market is.”
Despite Monday’s splashy preview, there are still a number of questions left unanswered, including fuel economy.
The base price for the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport will begin at $26,660, plus $1,450 in delivery fees. The 2-Door starts at $28,500, the 4-Door at $33,200. Those bigger models carry a higher $1,495 in delivery fees. If the Jeep Wrangler is any indication, the bigger versions of the Bronco, when well-equipped, will likely push well above $40,000.
Ford isn’t ready to offer precise dates, but says Bronco Sport will reach showrooms “later this year,” the bigger 2- and 4-door models to follow early in 2021. The automaker is now taking initial, $100 deposits for all three Bronco models.