Late last year, UAW representative Bill Johnson said something he possibly shouldn’t have—the Bronco and the Ranger are coming back. For Ford fans who want a midsize pickup or a competent off-roader, this was huge news. It also makes a lot of sense. Americans can’t get enough trucks and SUVs right now, making it a perfect time for Ford to expand its lineup.
Then, at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, Ford made the officially official announcement. The Ranger will arrive in 2019, with the Bronco showing up a year later. Ford didn’t give many details beyond that at its presentation, but since then, more details have trickled out. So let’s talk about what we think we know so far.
The Ford Ranger
Technically the Ford Ranger isn’t dead at all. The current-generation Ford Ranger is built in Thailand, South Africa, and Argentina, and sold in nearly every market around the world besides North America. But as Johnson confirmed, Ford plans to build a new Ranger in its Michigan Assembly Plant and sell it here again.
In a recent Reddit thread, an anonymous poster claiming to be a Ford designer (and verified by the moderators of the Ranger subreddit) claimed the new Ranger will be a facelifted version of the foreign-market Ranger. Our Ranger will reportedly get new headlights, a new grille, and a new front fascia, but the rest of the truck will look about the same. The interior, though, will get a complete overhaul for the U.S. market.
That means the new Ranger to be a direct competitor for large-midsize trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, and Toyota Tacoma—pickups that share dimensions with the full-size trucks of 15 years ago. For fans of smaller trucks, that has to be disappointing news. But as the alleged Ford designer points out, by 2011, the market for small pickups had eroded to the point that Ranger sales were almost entirely propped up by fleet sales. The market for a legitimately small pickup truck just doesn’t exist anymore.
But while the current Ranger gives us a pretty good idea of what size truck we’re talking about, only one of its current engines, a 3.2-liter five-cylinder turbodiesel also used on the Transit, would possibly be a fit for the U.S. market. And Ford might not even offer that one, either. The Redditor claims Ford is monitoring Chevrolet Colorado Diesel sales to see whether or not a diesel version is worth selling. And while the source says Ford still has yet to decide on other engines, our pals at Car and Driver expect to see two gasoline engines—an EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder and a naturally aspirated V6.
Sadly, if a manual transmission is available, it’ll probably only be found on the rear-wheel-drive base model. In search of F-150-beating fuel economy, you’re more likely to see Ford’s 10-speed automatic. The good news is, only offering one transmission (as well as skipping a two-door version) would help Ford keep costs down. We’re not sure the base Ranger will slide in under $20,000, but hopefully it will be less than $25,000.
The Ford Bronco
With the new Ranger, we have a pretty good idea what to expect, but there been a lot less certainty surrounding the Bronco. The last generation, which ended production in 1996, was based on the Ford F-150. While some fans speculated that Ford could make a Bronco based on the upcoming 2017 Raptor, the Redditor says Ford will instead use the Ranger-based Everest for the new Bronco.
Ford’s Chief Technical Officer Raj Nair, however, contradicted that assertion. According to him, the new Bronco will be a unique vehicle, not a reworked Everest. Size-wise, he said expect something smaller than the Bronco II but bigger than the original Bronco. And if you’re worried the new Bronco will be a glorified Explorer, don’t be. He followed it up by saying “”people have an idea of what a Bronco should be. Certainly, we have an idea of what a Bronco should be, and we’re going to be looking forward to bringing that to our customers.”
Michael Stone Clark
We wouldn’t be surprised if Ford’s new Bronco shares engine and transmission offerings with the Ranger since they’ll share a platform. The alleged Ford designer did say, though, that the Bronco will get an off-road version to slot under the Raptor and take on the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. That fits with Nair’s assertion that the Wrangler will be the Bronco’s chief competitor.
Unfortunately, there’s no telling whether or not Ford actually plans to bring back the two-door Bronco. We’d like to think it will, but the market for two-door SUVs is pretty limited. We do know, though, that it will get a removable roof. So that’s encouraging.
According to this alleged designer, Ford plans to show off the final vehicles at next year’s Detroit Auto Show.