In 1996, The Craft was hot at the box office, The Incredible Hulk was an animated TV show, Slash officially left Guns N’ Roses, and the final model of the iconic Ford Bronco rolled off the assembly line.
Fast forward to 2016. A sequel to The Craft is on the way, the Hulk has become a staple of the hugely-successful Avengers movies, the reunited Guns N’ Roses has earned well over $100 million dollars and counting on their new concert tour – and it’s now been confirmed that the long-rumored 2020 Ford Bronco is a “go.”
The Bronco was beloved in the 20th century for its sturdiness and off-road capabilities, and many fans mourned its passing. Rumors of the SUV’s return began to circulate less than a decade after it was discontinued, with the company’s presentation of a new Ford Bronco concept at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. Ever since then, there have been occasional teasers and hints from Ford about a possible new Bronco, and rumors have been on the increase over the last year. But nothing definitive ever happened.
Trump’s Debate Statements Trigger Bronco Revelations
In his first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump slammed what he said was the flood of American jobs to Mexico and China, and cited Ford’s plans to move its small car operations to plants in Mexico as a prime example.
A few minutes later, while the debate was still underway, Ford and the United Auto Workers each responded on Twitter. They Tweeted that the move of small car manufacturing out of Ohio and Michigan would have no impact on American jobs, because two new vehicles would be built at the U.S. plants.
And shortly after the debate, UAW Local 900 chairman Bill Johnson (whose union staffs the Michigan plant) broke the big news for gearheads: one of the new vehicles will be a sixth-generation Ford Bronco, scheduled to be built at the Ford Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan starting by 2020. The other vehicle will be a new version of the mid-sized Ranger pickup, expected to start rolling off the lines in the next few years.
Ford’s Tweets during the debates confirmed that two new vehicles will take the place of the Focus and C-Max, the compact cars whose assembly is being moved to new plants in Mexico. The company has yet to actually say the words “Bronco” and “Ranger,” in connection with future plans for the Michigan plant, but it has been confirmed that Ford’s new contract with the Auto Workers does indeed specify that the Bronco and Ranger are indeed the two vehicles which will be re-added to the company’s lineup. And the target dates indicate that we should expect a 2020 Ford Bronco.
So Far, All We Know Is the Name
This is undoubtedly a great time to bring back the Bronco. Gas prices are lower than they’ve been in years, and trucks and SUVs are selling particularly well as a result. The Jeep Wrangler has done extremely well without a lot of viable competition (the Land Rover Defender isn’t really a big seller) in the two-door off-road market, which makes things ripe for competition from a new Bronco.
Ford is said to be in the early planning stages for the new Bronco, so the big disappointment for fans of the legendary vehicle is that no one (other than Ford’s designers) has any idea what the 2020 Bronco will look like. That hasn’t stopped many Bronco aficionados, particularly those at the site Bronco6G.com, from taking their best shot. They’ve combined the Ford Bronco concept shown at the 2004 North American International Auto Show with original Bronco designs and modern Ford SUVs and trucks, to come up with their own prototypes of what a 6th generation Bronco might look like.
The speculative renderings portray an SUV that would still have a classic “boxy” Bronco look complete with the iconic inset front grille and round headlights, but with a more modern frame which would stand up to the demands of off-roading. Guessing what would be under the hood, of course, would be fruitless at this point, but the 2004 Ford Bronco concept featured a 2.0L intercooled turbodiesel I4, a six-speed manual transmission and intelligent four-wheel drive, so those would be good starting points. Earlier speculation from the independent site ford-trucks.com, however, focused on the belief that the 2020 Ford Bronco will share a body-on-frame construction and rear-wheel/four-wheel drive architecture with the upcoming new version of the Ranger.
One major debate among Bronco “historians” is whether a new version would add a removable top so the company could better compete with the Wrangler. That’s quite possible, particularly since bronco6g.com reports that Ford has purchased both the Wranger Unlimited and Unlimited Rubicons in order to benchmark them and exceed those Jeep models’ upper-end performance.
For now, it’s simply a matter of wishing, hoping, waiting and guessing – and the guessing is almost as much fun as the driving should eventually be.