In the last couple of months, it's been nothing but bad news all around the automotive world. Factories were shuttered, jobs were lost, and sales dropped because of a pandemic that changed, well, everything.
The automotive industry was seeing red, but maybe the return of one of the most recognizable names in the history of 4x4s can bring back a little blue.
After months (and years) of leaks, insider information, and teasers, Ford has finally resurrected the Bronco. It's the first time that the model will re-emerge in the 21st century after having been canned in the mid-90s, and will feature all of the 4x4 knowledge and technology that Ford has developed since then.
“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 4x4 segment and take people further into the wild,” said Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company COO.
Unlike other Ford trucks that are marketed under the slogan Built Ford Tough, the Bronco is Built Wild. Ford is launching two distinct body styles: the classic 2-door variant and a first-ever 4-door version.
There's a distinctly retro look that harkens back to the original first-generation (1965-1977) Ford Bronco. Think of it like how Toyota designed the FJ Cruiser; they took a classic look and modernized it for the times. The classic cues are there such as the unmistakable boxy SUV shape, the round headlamps, and the overall stance.
The unique thing about the new Bronco series is that it has been designed from the ground up for open-top driving. 4-door models come standard with a soft top, but the Bronco 2-door and 4-door hardtop models can be specified with removable roof panels, allowing for open-air 4x4 fun. The 2-door model has a standard 3-section roof, while the roof of the 4-door model has 4 removable sections. Some windows can also be removed, and you can ditch the doors too.
The interior is thoroughly modern and was designed for action; Ford even used materials that are rugged because the Bronco is intended to be driven without a roof. Ford says they used rubberized flooring with drains, as well as marine-grade vinyl upholstery to make cleaning up easy. They also seem to have worked in a bit of water resistance with the instrument panel and used silicone rubber for the dashboard buttons. As to what the weather resistance rating is, Ford didn't say.
This sixth-generation Bronco will be the first one not available with a V8. Instead, Ford will make it available with EcoBoost turbo engines: the first is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost straight-4 with 270 horsepower, while the other is the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 with 310 horsepower. Transmission options include Ford's 10-speed automatic, as well as a 7-speed manual.
4x4 is, of course, standard across all models, as the Bronco is known for its rock-crawling abilities. The chassis is an all high-strength steel, box frame design which would complement the all-steel roll cage (with built-in airbags). The Bronco has an independent front suspension and a rigid axle in the back. It uses Bilstein dampers and coil springs, and can also be fitted with a “semi-active hydraulic stabilizer” that can automatically disconnect if more articulation is needed.
Tires are 35-inch mud-terrain rollers, and it can be specified with beadlock rims for off-roading with low air pressure for maximum contact with the terrain. Ford says the Bronco has a 29-degree break-over angle, a 37.2-degree departure angle, and a water wading capability of 851 millimeters (33.5 inches)
As for technology and safety, the Bronco comes with the typical Ford list of features such as the latest SYNC 4 system, AdvanceTrac, roll stability control, trailer sway control and the like. Bronco also has Ford's Terrain Management System that has something called G.O/A.T. Modes for enhanced 4x4 capabilities.
Ford says there are seven drive modes to choose from such as Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl. There's even a feature that displays topographic trail maps from third party sources that Ford contracted for the Bronco.
The US prices of the Bronco start at USD 29,995 (just about PhP 1.5 million) for the base 2-door model.
As for availability, the Bronco appears to be a US market product for now, and their order books are already open. Can the Philippines get the model officially from Ford? In the future, perhaps.
Demand is expected to be high in its home market, but given the rise in popularity of off-road adventures in the Philippines on two and four wheels and the desire for people to go out and experience the trails, we won't be surprised if a few customers decide to take it upon themselves to acquire and import a Bronco on their own.