2021 Ford Bronco Spy Photos

2021 Ford Bronco Spy Photos

The legendary Ford Bronco is making a comeback, after ending production in 1996, Ford announced the Bronco’s eventual return at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit back in 2017, and we’ve been waiting patiently ever since. As for when it’ll make its debut, we’re not 100-percent sure. Ford said it’ll arrive by 2020, though, so there’s a very good chance we’ll see it debut at some point this year.

Our spy photographer managed to nab some good shots of a Bronco test mule out in public in Michigan. The bodywork is clearly from a current-generation Ranger pickup, but note how far back the rear wheels are pushed in this mule. Short overhangs are great for off-roading, so it seems like Ford is really trying to make this thing a Jeep rival. This truck is also wearing BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires, which you can get for FX4-package Rangers and on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

Early rumors indicated the next Bronco would be nothing more than a rebadged Everest, but Ford’s Raj Nair rebutted the speculation early this year by reassuring that the 2021 Bronco would be unique from the Everest although share its body on frame construction while adding more off-road capability. He also confirmed it would be similar in size to the Ford Ranger being sold overseas and would “live up to [its] heritage” of the original as a “capable and confident all-rounder.”

With that, it should come as no surprise that Ford would be using a Ford Everest donor vehicle to conduct early testing. The good news is with modifications to the T6 architecture and utilizing a body-on-frame construction, Ford could more easily and cost-effectively put a whole new body on top of a shortened T6. But it remains to be seen just how many changes Ford will make.

2021 Ford Bronco Spy Photos Engine

Discovered by first selecting the 2021 model year and then specifying, Ford Trucks, the configurator defaults to the only available model, listed as the 2021 Ford Bronco. Fully trusted, this affirms at any rate one of the Bronco’s accessible motors will be a DOHC 2.3-liter inline-four. Specifically, the lookup info for spark plugs, for instance, states”2021 FORD TRUCK BRONCO, 4-140 2.3L DOHC.” We probably don’t need to point out that the engine in the current Ford Ranger is also a 2.3-liter inline-four. A turbocharged (EcoBoost) unit, it is rated for 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a version of Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.

We know the Bronco is going to share much of the Ranger’s DNA and that they will be assembled in the same facility, so it’s hardly a  stretch to figure the powertrains will be similar. We have previously speculated that the Ranger (and, by extension, the Bronco) will get a V-6 as well. We do know that the new Bronco will have a removable roof and doors, and will likely be available in two- and four-door versions. Ford has likewise demonstrated there will be a mixture form of the Bronco. Curious to see if the same Bronco parts info had migrated to the parts-lookup search engines of stateside retailers, we performed a similar search on all of the usual suspects, including Ford’s official factory parts site, with nary a hit. Most don’t even  have the model year 2021 in their dropdown menus yet.

One of our spy photographers caught one of those funny looking 2020 Ford Bronco prototypes out running around, and this time he got a shot of the underside of the truck. Besides helping confirm that this is a body-on-frame truck borrowing heavily from the Ranger, it also shows us an unusual-looking sway bar system, plus some beefy off-road tires.

2021 Ford Bronco Spy Photos
2021 Ford Bronco Spy Photos

The front sway bar looks quite thick, and it also has a strange round portion in the middle. It looks a bit like the active stabilizer bars  used on various Land Rover and BMW products. On the road, these systems can keep the sway bar nice and stiff, but then soften it up off-road for a potentially more comfortable ride, and to possibly gain a bit more wheel travel.

There’s also the possibility that it’s a sway-bar disconnect like what’s used on the Wrangler Rubicon and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon. While those systems provide a lot of benefit for solid-axle vehicles, the Bronco clearly has independent front suspension like its Ranger cousin, so this seems less likely.

2021 Ford Bronco Spy Photos
2021 Ford Bronco Spy Photos

Another tidbit worth discussing: the Bronco’s tires. Our spy photographer got close enough to get a clear shot of the size, and we can see the prototype wears 285/70R17 all-terrain tires, which comes out to roughly 33 inches and are bigger than the roughly 30-inch tires available on the Ranger FX4. All in all, the Bronco is shaping up to be a pretty serious off-roader.

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