The Race Prototype of the 2020 Ford Bronco is shown from the rear in the desert.

2020 Ford Bronco: A Legend Has Returned

Set to be released in Spring 2020, the 2020 Ford Bronco is one of the most anticipated cars in recent memory. After ending production in 1996, the Bronco is back, but in what form? Will it be a two-door or four-door; will it be an off-road beast; what can we expect from this incarnation of the fabled Bronco? While we don’t know exactly what to expect, Ford has leaked some information about what we can suppose from the Bronco when it is released in the spring, so let’s take a look at what we can confirm.

The Bronco vs the Competition

The Bronco, from all accounts, is set to take on the Jeep Wrangler for off-road supremacy. Introduced in 1966, the Bronco has always been associated with the outdoors, and now that it’s back, it’s built with one thing in mind: to take you to those “wild and untamed places” most other cars cannot go. That sounds similar to the tone of Jeep’s advertising. With the Bronco, Ford is targeting the off-road market, so we can expect that the Bronco will be ready to hit the trails.

Further targeting Jeep, the Bronco looks to have two-door and four-door models available, and there is even the possibility of coming out with a truck-based Bronco. There have been reports that they will give the Bronco a bed, which will put it in direct competition with the Jeep Gladiator. This is exciting news as competition is always good for the consumer. The truck model looks to be slated for 2024, though Ford has not confirmed this.

A spy shot of the 2020 Ford Bronco shows it driving on a dirt trail.

Think Jeep

When you think Jeep, what comes to mind? Removable doors and roof? The Bronco will most likely have a removable hardtop and doors that you can store in the trunk. The biggest difference is that the mirrors will be attached to the A-pillars and not the doors like on the Wrangler. This means you will have mirrors when you remove the doors on the Bronco, unlike the Wrangler. There’s also a neat feature for the roof. When you remove the hardtop, there is a roll-out mesh roof that keeps the sunlight out and allows air to get in. This can also be used behind the vehicle as a tent area. Ford has put a lot of thought into this, so it will be interesting to see what else they’ve thought of.

So let’s get down to the nuts and bolts and see what we’re looking at in terms of the drivetrain. The Bronco is based on the Ford Ranger platform, so we can expect a similar drivetrain as the Ranger. The Ranger has a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four engine that gets up to 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. But there are reports that the Bronco might get a manual transmission with a completely different engine: the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, which would also come with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

This is starting to sound more and more like a Wrangler, complete with a manual transmission. What’s next, manual windows? The Bronco also uses body-on-frame construction, like the Wrangler, so you can expect that it will be a serious off-roader. While you’ll lose the on-road refinement that you will find in Chevy’s revamped Blazer, you’ll get the off-road chops you’ve come to expect from the Wrangler. Though there has not been any mention of a model that can compete with the Rubicon, but you can bet that’s been discussed, so we’ll have to wait and see about that one.

Is Ford Creating a Hybrid Bronco?

Where Ford diverges from Jeep is in its emphasis on hybrid cars, and sure enough, a hybrid Bronco is in the works too. Also in the works is a “baby Bronco.” This will compete with the Jeep Renegade and is supposed to be off-road capable but not to the same extent as its big brother. This will be a small SUV based on the Escape but with a more rugged look. It will also have better ground clearance and an all-wheel drive system built for off-road work. So you might not want to take it to the Rubicon, but it’ll be more of a light off-roader. The “Baby Bronco” is actually slated to come out before the Bronco, so we should get to see this in the spring of 2020.

Features of the Bronco

Possibly one of the reasons for the smaller crossover SUV, aside for the purposes of competing with Jeep, is that the Bronco will be bigger than previous generations. Since it is based on the Ranger platform, you’re looking at a big SUV. The Ranger is nearly as large now as some previous F-150 generations, so you might be surprised at how big the new Bronco is going to be.

The interior remains a mystery. Aside from the removable doors and roof, Ford has not released any details about the interior. But you can expect that the interior will follow the exterior in looking to the past for its design. The exterior’s retro stylings harken back to previous Bronco generations, so you can expect this to carry over to the interior design. Of course, you can also expect modern features as well, such as Ford’s new Sync 4 infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. There will also likely be a long list of safety and driver-assist features.

For perspective, the Ranger offers a great deal of active and passive technology, including blind-spot monitoring, emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assist. So you can expect that the Bronco will be no different.

A 2020 Ford Bronco R Race Prototype and 1969 Baja 1000 are racing in the desert.

Cost of the Bronco

How much does the Bronco cost? That’s a good question. Ford has not confirmed the pricing yet, but if you look at the Bronco’s competitors, such as the Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner, which start at around $30,000, you can expect it to be a similar starting price. This is good news if you’re planning on shopping for an off-road-ready SUV because now you’ll have more options.

It’s about time Ford jumped into the off-road segment with a true off-roader. The Raptor might just be the best off-roader on the planet, but its price tag can be prohibitive, so it’s great we have another option on the market now.

Hitting the Market

When will you be able to finally buy one? It was introduced in 2017, after all, and is just now set to debut. Well, Ford has not yet confirmed the date, but look for the “Baby Bronco” to debut first and the Bronco to follow shortly after. We’re estimating that the Bronco will be either a late 2020 model or a 2021 model, but hopefully, we will see this vehicle hit showroom floors by the end of the year.

The Race-Worthy Bronco

Ford did debut a race-ready Bronco R at the Baja 1000 to mark the 50th anniversary of Rod Hall’s win in a ’69 Bronco. This was just a prototype, though you could get a good idea of what the production Bronco will look like. The Raptor won the race, and the Bronco didn’t finish, but that’s not uncommon, and what a great place to test the new Bronco. You can bet they were able to work out all of the kinks along the way, as the Bronco endured a broken skid plate and control arm, among other things.

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too much longer for the return of this legendary SUV. From what we can tell now, it should be worth the wait.