Fans of the Ford Bronco rejoice! It has now been confirmed that the sixth generation of the sturdy all-American 4x4 is scheduled to be built on home soil, at Ford’s Michigan plant, starting by 2020. With the US seeing the lowest gas prices and highest sales of SUVs in years, this could be a great time to bring back the company’s iconic off-roader. The last Bronco was built in 1996, and rumors of its possible return have been circulating since 2004. Still, we haven’t heard a peep about Ford’s plans for the SUV’s future- until now.
News of the Bronco’s impending arrival came in response to high profile presidential candidate Donald Trump calling out Ford as an American company that is sending its small car operations and potential US jobs to Mexico. Ford has never taken sides in politics, but decided to settle the score by launching a real-time “fact check” campaign via its Twitter feed. Answering to the attack on its business, the company declared that it is making big investments in the industry at home. Then last week, Bill Johnson, chairman of the United Autoworkers Union local 900, set the internet ablaze when he told the Detroit Free Press that “the Ranger and the Bronco [are] coming to Michigan Assembly.” An online media storm has been raging ever since.
Loved for its off-road capabilities, the Bronco was introduced in 1966 as Ford’s first compact SUV. At this early stage, the model’s design focused on simplicity and economy, and had a smaller, more rustic design intended for sturdy handling of rough terrain. The car sold well at first, but competition from the larger Chevrolet Blazer eventually resulted in lower sales, and the Bronco received major design overhauls in 1978 and 1979. This was when we met the bigger, badder, ruggedly handsome 4x4 we know and love today. Ford introduced new fuel tech and cosmetic changes into the fourth generation Bronco in 1987, before the car’s final safety-focused redesign in 1992. By this time, the Bronco had earned its spot in Ford history.
So, what’s next? Fans can only speculate at this point. The last time Ford released a concept for a new Bronco was in 2004 at the North American International Auto Show. At the time, Car and Driver reported on the nostalgic design that emulated the 1965 Bronco. Designed as a basic utility vehicle, the 2004 concept had a three-door layout and manual windows. This model never made it off the line, and it seems doubtful we’ll ever see its likeness on the road. But the company’s silence hasn’t deterred Bronco fanatics from dreaming of the possibilities. The particularly awesome fan rendering from Bronco6g.com used for this story has a lot of people excited about the future of Ford’s most missed SUV. But until Ford decides to drop us a few details about its plans for the Bronco, we’ll all just have to sit back and settle in for the wait.