Baja-blitzing Bronco gets ready to buck
The Ford Bronco has returned as a family of off-roaders, but there’s room for more.
In July, the 2021 Ford Bronco was revealed in two- and four-door forms alongside the smaller 2021 Bronco Sport with turbocharged powertrains, four-wheel drive, and off-road capability.
Ford’s not done. A higher-performance Bronco has been in the mail since day one. Ford teased the 2021 Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) flying through the air in September. Now, the off-roader has been spotted roaming the streets of Michigan.
“Bronco and Bronco Sport are meant for high-speed off-road driving and we have plenty of excitement ahead,” said Ford spokesman Jiyan Cadiz in July.
Here’s how a more capable Bronco might take shape.
2019 Ford F-150 Raptor
The most powerful 2021 Ford Bronco announced so far has a 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 that makes 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. A high-speed desert-running Bronco model will likely have, and need, more power. That could come from the 3.0-liter turbo-6 from the Explorer ST or the 3.5-liter turbo-6 from the F-150. The high-output variant of this 3.5-liter mill in today’s F-150 Raptor and Limited puts out 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. A lesser version of this engine makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.
The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engines would fit in the Bronco, which is based on an updated version of the Ranger’s T6 platform. The smart money is on a high-output version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 with about 400 horsepower.
Ford Bronco Warhog/Raptor teased
Suspension and other hardware
The high-performance Bronco will need a beefier suspension with lots of travel, room for large tires, and probably unique beadlock-capable wheels. The latest prototype is wearing 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels borrowed from the F-150 Raptor.
2021 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
The Bronco is available with 35-inch off-road tires, Bilstein shocks, and high-performance off-road suspension. That’s where today’s Bronco ends and the high-performance variant would begin. Camouflaged prototypes are rolling on Sasquatch-spec 35-inch tires. The BFGoodrich K02 all-terrain tires are LT315/70R17s.
2021 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots
The spy shots show orange shocks, which are likely the electronically controlled Fox 3.0 bypass shocks from the current F-150 Raptor. These shocks have active damping, external bypass technology, and a 9-chamber design.
2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
What’s in a name? The Bronco is sold in six trims, including base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, and Badlands.
Reach into the Bronco’s history and there aren’t a ton of terrific historical nameplates to add for a high-performance variant. Eddie Bauer anyone?
In 1965 Ford introduced the 1965 Bronco Dune Duster and displayed it at the Detroit auto show in November. It featured an NHRA-approved roll bar with integrated headrests along with exposed chrome exhaust pipes—and walnut appliqués. The dashboard featured suede padding and walnut-trimmed control knobs. It wasn’t an off-roader, but the name would be fantastic for a high-performance desert runner.
Ford’s built a truckload of brand equity with the Raptor name. A Bronco Raptor could work, but Ford might reserve it for its F-Series of pickup trucks. The next-generation Ranger will get a Raptor model in the U.S.
YouTube channel RevMatchTV reported the Raptorized Bronco might be called the Bronco Warthog, which would make a lot of sense as, like Raptor, it uses a tough animal as its name. Ford added fuel to the rumor fire when it filed a trademark application on Sept. 9 to use the Warthog name on a vehicle.
Historically, the Raptor variant of the F-150 has lagged by a year or two, but Ford seems hot to trot with the Bronco and wants to keep this horse bucking. With a teaser image already released in September by Ford of a Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) flying in the air it’s likely the high-performance Bronco will debut before the Bronco hits dealer lots in the spring of 2021. We’d expect the Bronco Raptor/Warthog in dealers later in 2021.