Thus far, every 2021 Ford Bronco prototype we've seen looks exactly like what it is: a cobbled-together mule with a fake body, in this case a shorty Ranger with a weird camper shell. That's ok, though. We've known all along that Ford's going back to basics with a boxy, retro-inspired design for its reborn off-roader. Now a spy photographer has captured images of the first real Bronco tester wearing its production bodywork. It might be under heavy camouflage, but it still looks to confirm a key rumor about the truck: the removable doors and roof.
Broncos of yore, even the O.J. Simpson generation, were decidedly blocky things. So between the vertical fascia, sharp angles, and flat beltline, the 2021 model is throwing it back to that ethos in a way that nothing apart from the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator currently does. The camo padding is certainly doing something to its hood and rooflines, but then again, we've seen hints of those in Ford's Bronco R Baja racing concept. Ground clearance, approach and departure angles look pretty great; there's a solid rear axle and independent front suspension. If previous leaks are to be believed, we also know what the Ford's headlights will look like with an oval LED ring taking center stage.
But let's get to the important stuff. When it comes to the rumored removable doors—a must-have feature if you're going to come at the Jeep Wrangler, no doubt—look no further than the side mirrors being mounted on the A-pillar. Last year, we previewed the nine patents Ford had filed related to removable door operation and safety during the Bronco's development, one of which showcased a pillar-mounted mirror lighting system that could work when the doors were off.
Views from behind reveal rectangular tail lamps, a rear-mounted spare wheel, and the second piece of evidence—a floating third brake light above the spare, which only makes sense there if the roof can be removed. Ford issued patents for an easily removable lid in September that seems far less complicated than the Jeep Wrangler's, but there's no way of telling the exact setup yet.
We're left to speculate what might underpin the 2021 Bronco, although it's safe to assume much of it will be related to the midsize Ford Ranger pickup. The Blue Oval's turbocharged, 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder is anticipated to find a new home as the Bronco's base power plant with a twin-turbo V6 possibly available as well. Traditionalists won't be happy with anything less than the 5.0-liter V8, but now's not the time for that debate.
Look for a 10-speed automatic transmission to be fitted in most examples of the upcoming four-wheeler and cross your fingers that the rumored seven-speed manual sees the light of day eventually.
Stay tuned to The Drive while we dig up key details ahead of the 2021 Bronco's awaited reveal. A specific date hasn't been announced, though recent rumors cite a June debut at the Detroit Auto Show which would only just stay true to the automaker's self-set spring 2020 deadline.
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