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Could This Burly 2021 Ford Bronco Prototype Be the Bronco Raptor?

This Bronco decked out in hardcore off-road parts sure looks like Ford's answer to the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

The 2021 Ford Bronco has the Jeep Wrangler in its crosshairs, and this mule packing serious-looking off-road gear further proves it. Unlike the Bronco we caught playing in the snow a few weeks back, which wore relatively dinky tires and such, this variant of the Blue Oval's upcoming SUV has tougher flared fenders, a raised suspension, and knobby Goodyear Wrangler off-road tires wrapped around 17-inch wheels seemingly borrowed from the F-150 Raptor. In other words, this looks like Ford's answer to the hardcore Wrangler Rubicon, which may or may not use Raptor nomenclature.

While the range-topping Wrangler prioritizes rock crawling over all else, we suspect this Bronco could follow in the desert-running tire tracks of its bigger F-150 Raptor sibling. (It may even wear Raptor branding.) Like Ford's off-road-ready pickup truck, the most dirt-friendly Bronco model will almost assuredly feature a twin-turbocharged V-6 engine under its hood. It is likely the street-legal version of the Bronco R Baja racer's EcoBoost engine. Expect more than 300 horsepower from the Raptorized Bronco, a figure that might rise to as many as 450 horses if Ford decides to simplify things and just stick the F-150 Raptor's 3.5-liter V-6 into the Bronco's snout.  

Regardless of what's powering it, the burliest Bronco ought to offer exceptional capability off the beaten path. This prototype's additional ride height gives us a better look at the SUV's independent front- and live rear axle suspension arrangement. Look for coil springs at all four corners, which should offer the articulation needed to push the Bronco over all sorts of terrain.

Ultimately, we won't know whether Ford's SUV is a formidable competitor to the Wrangler until it debuts in the spring, but we do know the Blue Oval is serious about putting Jeep on notice. And these pictures prove it.