International Harvester introduced its Scout SUV five years before the launch of the 1966 Ford Bronco. So it almost seems fitting that Ford’s new, rugged-looking Escape-based Bronco Scout—which may actually end up being called the Ford Adventurer—will launch before the highly anticipated Ranger-based Bronco. Shown here are artist’s renderings of what we think it will look like.
The smaller off-road SUV will be billed as the off-road antidote to the 2020 Escape, which itself has been redesigned to look like a tall Focus wagon. Word is the Adventurer/Bronco Scout chassis is being tuned for trail traction in order for it to compete with the likes of Jeep’s unibody, transverse-engine models (Cherokee, Compass, Renegade), though size-wise, the small Ford will compete most directly with the Compass.
Engine choices will mimic what’s available for the new Escape, from a 1.5-liter EcoBoost inline-three with 180 horsepower and 177 lb-ft to a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 275 lb-ft, plus two hybrids—a conventional hybrid and a plug-in-hybrid option—both coupled to a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four. Cargo capacity should also be similar to that of the new Escape, which has 38 cubic feet of space behind the second row (34 in the hybrids) and 65 cubic feet behind the first row (61 in the hybrids).
Ford is targeting the iconic Jeep Wrangler with its new-age body-on-frame Bronco and is planning two- and four-door versions to battle the Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. We’re hearing that the Bronco will come with an independent front suspension and a solid Dana rear axle, and Ford has patented both a removable/retractable roof and a take on removable doors that have tube doors hidden inside. We also exclusively learned that the company is planning a Bronco pickup truck to battle the Jeep Gladiator.
The Bronco is expected to launch with the Ranger’s 270-hp, 310-lb-ft 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. A hybrid model, likely with a version of the Explorer’s 3.3-liter Atkinson cycle V-6 with a 1.5-kW-hr lithium-ion battery pack, is also in the pipeline.
After the initial launch in the fourth quarter of next year (the Bronco will be built at the same Michigan Assembly Plant as the Ranger), Ford is expected to offer a variant of its 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 making about 350 horsepower and as much as 400 lb-ft of torque as part of the Bronco’s powertrain mix. It’s uncertain whether Ford will name it the Bronco Raptor or Bronco ST, although an all-new Ranger, due in the 2023 model year, will also be offered with the engine and the Raptor name.
Aside from Shelby Mustangs and other pony-car variants, Ford Performance is relegated to Raptor variations of pickups and ST models of SUVs. Following on the heels of the new base Explorer after it goes on sale this fall will be the 2020 Explorer ST, powered by Ford’s 400-hp, 415-lb-ft 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 mated to a 10-speed automatic and rolling on 21-inch wheels. Within a couple of years, an all-new Edge will migrate to the Explorer’s rear-drive platform and get the same ST performance engine. Despite the big wheels with their heavy unsprung weight, the Explorer ST doesn’t have the harsh ride and overly quick steering of some performance sport utilities, as we discovered during our first drive; rather, enthusiasts will appreciate the difference in the ST’s dynamics compared with other Explorers.
- Bronco: Late 2020
- Adventurer/Bronco Scout: Mid-2020
- Explorer ST: Late 2019
- Bronco: $29,000 (est)
- Bronco Scout: $26,000 (est)
- Explorer ST: $55,835