Ford is planning to cash in on Bronco anticipation with a new, compact SUV that borrows off-road styling cues from the upcoming truck. Unofficially dubbed the “baby Bronco,” with its official name yet to be decided, the new small SUV would be targeted at drivers wanting the style but not requiring the actual talents of a full trail beast.
Ford announced it would reboot the Bronco last year, bringing back the beloved brand as a midsize truck. It’s expected to be based on the underpinnings of the Ford Ranger pickup, with a body-on-frame architecture for legitimate off-road talents. However Ford has also been teasing a boxy, squared-off shape for the new vehicle, in the same vein as the original Bronco, albeit with new electrification under the hood.
The “baby Bronco,” however, will have very different roots. Rather than a truck platform, Ford will use the same architecture as the Focus and Escape, Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president of product development and purchasing at the automaker, told Reuters this week.
While the Escape is available in all-wheel drive form, it’s really intended more for on-road use than in the mud. As a result, the “baby Bronco” is unlikely to be designed for true off-roading. Instead, Thai-Tang suggests, it will offer “off-road positioning and imagery” to please an audience wanting at least the appearance of such talents, while in reality never actually needing them.
It’s part of Ford’s push to embrace SUVs, crossovers, pickups, and trucks, while minimizing its sedan and hatchback options in the US. That unexpected cull, announced back in April 2018, will leave just two “cars” in the line-up: the Mustang and the new Focus Active crossover. Currently, Ford offers six cars in the US.
At the time, Ford argued that increasing efficiency of its platforms and engines meant that, even with a crossover or SUV body, its new vehicles could be just as efficient as the cars it is discontinuing. This “baby Bronco” will be one opportunity for it to demonstrate that, as well as cater to the continuing trend toward crossovers that North American buyers have led for the past few years.
When, exactly, the new model might hit dealerships remains to be seen. Insiders suggest it could well arrive in 2019, as a 2020 model. The same has been said for the actual new Ford Bronco.