Ford will put solid axles under the Bronco as the off-roading gods intended
We’ve been wondering what sort of creature the Bronco would be since we first heard of the thing last October, when a union chairman spilled the beans on the SUV and the Ranger pickup. Ford confirmed a 2020 arrival date for the Bronco at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, but at that point pretty much all we were sure of was that the Ranger and Bronco would be returning. The open question would be how hungry Ford was to spoil the Jeep Wrangler’s solo party as a compact(ish) off-roader with dual solid axles, since the easiest thing would be to carry over the suspension design of the presumably related international Ford Ranger and its Everest SUV version: independent front suspension with either a leaf- (Ranger) or coil-suspended (Everest) solid rear axle.
Enter Dana, the long-time supplier of Jeep stick axles, to confirm that the 2020 Bronco is getting a pair of them. That means solid axles front and rear, just like under a Wrangler.
So reports Automotive News, citing an investor presentation from Dana. All signs so far, such as the report that the Bronco would be engineered by the same team in Australia that created the Ranger pickup, indicated that the Bronco would share a platform with the Ranger and thus be body-on-frame. The solid axle confirmation essentially confirms that theory. Some off-road-capable vehicles have paired solid axles with unibody frames, like the Jeep Cherokee (XJgeneration) and Grand Cherokee (ZJ and WJ generations), but they are outliers. Generally, if you’ve got solid axles at both ends, they’re going in a vehicle with a ladder frame. It also lends credence to the notion that our Bronco won’t simply be an imported Everest, which might be too understated to stand out from lesser crossovers anyways.
This is good news if you have Blue Oval in your blood and pine for a modern SUV that’ll show up the Jeep guys on the trail. Less directly, it could mean a wholesale assault on the formula that makes Jeeps successful in the first place: the massive aftermarket of off-roading equipment and dress-up bits that appeal to Jeep buyers almost as much as a Trail Rated badge. At a minimum, Bronco enthusiasts can breathe easy that the reborn SUV won’t merely be a light-duty crossover with styling “inspired” by true off-roaders.
There’s still a lot left to learn about the Bronco. Keep up to date with our running summary of everything we know about the returning off-roader.