The 2020 Ford Bronco has a lot to live up to. Ford's spent years promising eager fans that the return of its iconic off-road SUV wouldn't be a pillow-soft, money-grabbing crossover trading on heritage rather than actual capability. No, we're told, the new model means business—and our first glimpse of what appears to be either the 2020 Ford Bronco or its previously-announced "baby" counterpart shows that Ford has followed through with a rugged design that looks like a modernized classic.
UPDATE: Ford sent The Drive the following statement: "Ford has an exciting product future, but we don’t comment on speculation." We will say, that line about its "exciting product future" is a bit of a comment itself. Take it however you will. There's also been another hint spotted since this story was originally published that confirms we're looking at the Baby Bronco. The eagle eyes at Bronco6G.com realized the shadow behind the side profile shot is that of a much larger, blockier vehicle—possibly the final silhouette of the real Bronco, rear spare tire and all.
These photos, taken during Ford's annual dealer meeting in Las Vegas in October, were first spotted by AutoGuide after apparently getting accidentally uploaded to a public-facing part of Ford's media site. They've since been taken down, and The Drive hasn't been able to independently confirm their origin. But the eyes don't lie: this is absolutely one of the new Broncos we've been promised.
Now, it's tough to say which one this with certainty. It's a photo of a photo—unlike the leaked Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, dealers weren't shown the actual vehicle—so its scale is hard to judge. Ford's previously teased a boxy design for both the Ranger-based regular Bronco and its smaller version, which will be built on a modified Focus platform. The short overhangs fore and aft of the wheels make it even tougher to figure out its true size— though it looks like they'll be great for off-roading, along with its generous ground clearance and chunky tires.
But there are several hints that this is more likely the so-called Baby Bronco. The three images on the stage show front, side, and front three-quarters shots of the new trucklet. The vehicle's straight lines, white roof, and circular headlights all call back to the original 1966 Ford Bronco, which is exactly how Reuters described plans for the Baby Bronco back in August. As Road & Track points out, the three-quarters photo is very similar to the official Baby Bronco teaser shot Ford released in March.
Finally, contemporaneous accounts from the October dealer meeting reported that the smaller Bronco was indeed shown, and that dealers left feeling very pleased about what they'd seen. We know we wouldn't complain about having to sell these. If this is in fact the Baby Bronco, its boxy guise could be good news for the larger version and Ford's promises that it hasn't forgotten what made the original Bronco a success.
There are no details on powertrains, price, or official specs at this time. The smaller Ford Bronco is expected to compete with other tiny adventurers like the Jeep Renegade and Compass. It would also go a long way towards building out the company's SUV lineup as it continues its pivot away from sedans and hatchbacks—and hopefully, ending the scourge of the EcoSport.