Ford Bronco and Ranger Confirmed for Resurrection - NAIAS 2017

Ford confirmed, yesterday at the North American International Auto Show, that they are prepared to let the Bronco buck once more. After years of rumors, speculations, and technologically inept relatives thinking every crappy fan made render they see of the “new” Bronco on Facebook is real, it’s finally, actually happening. They’ve also confirmed the return of the Ranger, but this is significantly less exciting to me because they’ve continued to sell in South America and Ford has been saying the Ranger was coming back to America basically as soon as they killed the old ones in 2011.

This isn’t exactly breaking news, back in September it was confirmed that two vehicles, one wearing a Bronco badge and the other named Ranger, were to be produced in Michigan in the near future. No other details were given, and people just assumed that meant it would be a small pickup truck and a small SUV based on said pickup truck’s platform. It’s 2017 people, you can’t just assume a vehicle’s body type based off their names anymore! Well, turns out most of the assumers were right, the Ranger will be a mid sized pickup truck aimed at the likes of Toyota’s Tacoma and GM’s midsize twins, the Bronco is confirmed to be a body-on-frame “real” SUV and is being built alongside the Ranger so I’m just going to assume that they’ll share a few parts.

The reintroduction of these two famed American utility vehicles was apparently a reaction to the droves of customers asking for a new midsize truck and SUV. Joe Hinrich, president of Ford America, said, “Ranger is for truck buyers who want an affordable, functional, rugged and maneuverable pickup that’s Built Ford Tough. Bronco will be a no-compromise midsize 4x4 utility for thrill seekers who want to venture way beyond the city.”

Now comes my favorite part, rampant speculation based off nothing more than my laundry list of requirements if I am ever to dream about owning one of these vehicles.

First there’s the design. I see two potential routes here, one is to borrow the design language shared by the F-150 and Super Duty, the other is them a more angular and car-like shape along the lines of the Ford Edge or Escape. Personally, I would rather a face that looks like a toddler F-150 over the design used by their crossovers, but the Ranger which has existed in South America and other international markets definitely has a softer design that has little family resemblance with the full size trucks in America. Regardless of which direction they take, I would not be surprised if the Ranger and Bronco shared a strong resemblance.

Engine options could be interesting. Being a midsize platform I would think a 4 cylinder in the base model with a V6 higher end option being realistic. When it gets interesting is when you consider their EcoBoost line, with the 2.3L turbo making anywhere from 310 to 350 horsepower and the 2.7L EcoBoost expecting to get a power increase from it’s current 325hp with the updated F-150, there’s potential for some very interesting Rangers and Broncos on the horizon. Ford also announced yesterday that the F-150 will be getting a new Powerstroke diesel V6 with the update, not much is known on details yet but to me that’s at least an increased chance of seeing a diesel engined Ranger to butt heads with the diesel Canyon and Colorado. I would also expect there to be manual transmission options for both the Ranger and Bronco, where full size truck buyers have abandoned the stick shifters it would seem they still exist in the midsize truck market, and the Jeep Wrangler, who I expect, er, want Ford to aim at with the Bronco.

Speaking of which… we have a pretty good idea on what the Ranger will be, it’s a winning formula and there’s really only one way to skin the mid sized pickup truck cat. The Bronco is a completely different story. What I’d like to see can be best described as a Ford Wrangler, give it a removable hardtop and two doors and real brutish off road capability. What we’ll actually get is anyone’s guess. We know it’s body on frame, we know it will have four wheel drive, and we know that Ford is really pushing this “no-compromises” and adventure off roading theme. This description could mean anything from a Wrangler-type vehicle coming from the factory with locking differentials, a solid front axle, and knobby tires, or it could be closer to something a bit more pedestrian like a Toyota 4Runner, or maybe a little in-between and fill the gap left by the FJ Cruiser. The direct Wrangler fighter would definitely be the most true to the retro Bronco we all know and love, but it’s just as likely we could get something like the Ford Everest… a mid sized body-on-frame SUV that shares its platform with the Ranger on the international market. If I didn’t know better I’d probably think it was a new crossover, maybe a variant of the Edge, not exactly thrilling.

Only time will tell how terribly wrong I am with my speculations, and time is something we have. The Ranger is expected to show up as a 2019 model with the Bronco following in 2020, giving you plenty of time to brush up on your outdated and tasteless OJ jokes.