Ford is bringing the Bronco back in 2020. And, as part of its larger mission to take the fight to Jeep directly, the Baby Bronco will compete with Jeep’s smaller offerings, like the Renegade and even, to a lesser degree, the Subaru Crosstrek. But what will it look like? Ford released a dark teaser image when it announced the Baby Bronco, and we put our artist to the task of bringing it into the light.
Blending contemporary Ford styling cues found on other crossovers, like the Escape and EcoSport, with what we saw in the teaser, gives us an idea of what to expect from the Baby Bronco. More rugged aspects, like the front skid plate and recovery hooks, communicate the crossover’s offroad intentions, as do the aggressive tires, body cladding, and short overhangs.
There’s a lot we can gather just from the vehicle’s size, class, and probable competitors. The Renegade is almost certainly what Ford will benchmark for the Baby Bronco, especially because it sits in that sliver of daylight between EcoSport and Escape. And EcoSport, despite the bodycladding, isn’t capable of anything beyond the lightest dirt-road duty. We expect the Baby Bronco, despite being built on a car-like unibody architecture with a transversely-mounted engine, to have the kind of scrambling capabilities to mix it up with the Renegade.
It’d make sense for Ford’s Escape to get larger in its next generation, so size will probably be close to the contemporary Escape. That means it could be similar in size to the current Jeep Compass, while lining up in the market with the slightly smaller Renegade. The EcoBoost 2.0-liter engine recently offered in the Escape is a good fit as at least one of two possible engines. Less likely but still possible is the new three-cylinder that sees duty overseas. This could be a great vehicle to introduce and federalize that “Dragon” I3 with, as it’ll likely sell in enough volume to absorb the costs associated with federalizing it.
While there’s a Trailhawk version of the Renegade, and Ford is quite openly trying to occupy the offroading space, don’t expect to be chasing Wranglers up rocky gullies in the Baby Bronco. We expect a light-duty all-wheel-drive system with some traction and software tricks to do a semblance of legitimate offroading, but nothing like a real low-range transfer case or true locking differentials. That said, the ability to lock the center differential to provide some extra traction by forcing a more balanced front-rear power split is certainly possible. We also expect independent suspension front and rear. The 6-speed automatic used in the Escape is likely to show up in the Baby Bronco, unless Ford develops a transaxle with more gears to slot below its recent 10-speed unit.
We’re using reasoned guesses here as to what the Baby Bronco will look like, based on the market, Ford’s parts inventory, the current lineup, and the competition. Ford might pull a number on us and switch up the target market for the Baby Bronco, adding or removing size or capability. We’ll know more when there’s a production preview concept to look at.
But we think Ford is smart to target the Renegade, which has moved around 8,000 units a month on average over the last year or so. If anything, Ford’s late to the party, which might prompt them to invest in wilder styling or unique features to stimulate interest. We can’t wait to see what the finished product will look like.