Ford promises a new small pickup truck and a return of the legendary Bronco name. Here's what to expect.
By Collin Woodard, Oct 7, 2016
Earlier this month, UAW representative Bill Johnson said something he possibly shouldn't have—the Bronco and the Ranger are coming back. For Ford fans who want a midsize pickup or a competent off-roader, this was huge news. It also makes a lot of sense. Americans can't get enough trucks and SUVs right now, making it a perfect time for Ford to expand its lineup.
We're still waiting on an officially official confirmation Bronco and the Ranger are coming back, but we've seen the proposed union contract, and we don't have any reason to doubt Johnson. So let's dive in and talk about what we know so far.
The Ford Ranger
Technically the Ford Ranger isn't dead at all. The current-generation Ford Ranger is built in Thailand, South Africa, and Argentina, and sold in nearly every market around the world besides North America. But as Johnson confirmed, Ford plans to build a new Ranger in its Michigan Assembly Plant and sell it here again.
Looking at the current Ranger, it's clear that the world of pickup trucks has changed drastically since the last U.S.-market example was built in 2012. Expect the new Ranger to be a direct competitor for large-midsize trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, and Toyota Tacoma—pickups that share dimensions with the full-size trucks of 15 years ago.
But while the current Ranger gives us a pretty good idea of what size truck we're talking about, only one of its current engines, a 3.2-liter five-cylinder turbodiesel also used on the Transit, will likely continue into the next generation. Our pals at Car and Driver expect to see two gasoline engines, an EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder and a naturally aspirated V6, with the diesel engine perhaps beating the Chevy Colorado Diesel for ultimate midsize pickup fuel economy.
Based on the leaked UAW contract, it looks like the Ranger will start production in 2018 as a 2019 model, but don't be terribly surprised if we have to wait until 2020. One thing we do know is that the Ranger will begin production before the Bronco. Hopefully, Ford can keep the base price below $25,000.
The Ford Bronco
With the new Ranger, we have a pretty good idea what to expect, but there's a lot less certainty surrounding the Bronco. The last generation, which ended production in 1996, was based on the Ford F-150. While some fans speculate that Ford could make a Bronco based on the upcoming 2017 Raptor, at this point, we don't think that's likely.
Considering the Bronco will be built alongside the Ranger, we suspect both vehicles will share the same body-on-frame construction. We expect the new Bronco to be a lot more like the Ford Everest, the foreign-market SUV built on the current Ranger's underpinnings.
We'd love to see the new Bronco stay a two-door SUV, but in a world where even the Jeep Wrangler comes as a four-door, we suspect at least the option of a four-door Bronco.
What would be truly interesting, though, is if Ford based the new Bronco on the other SUV it builds on the Ranger platform—the Troller T4. Troller is a Brazilian-market brand that Ford bought back in 2007, and the T4 is its Wrangler-sized two-door off-roader. Add a few retro touches like we saw in this fan rendering or the 2004 Ford concept car shown below, and you'd have one incredibly badass new Bronco.
Is it probable? Not really. But is it possible? Theoretically. Would it be awesome? You betcha.
As for when we'll get the Bronco, that depends entirely on when the Ranger begins production. We're not exactly sure how much longer the Bronco will take, but we're guessing it will arrive right around 2020.
New Ford Bronco, Ranger - Details on 2018 Ford Ranger and 2020 Bronco