Escape-based SUV looks a lot like an Escape once did.
Ford will unveil 2021 Bronco in March, Bronco Sport in April
Ford fans and 4×4 aficionados only have about a month to wait for the widely anticipated reveal of the 2021 Ford Bronco. Automotive News has reported that Ford gave dealers an update on the long-awaited 2021 Ford Bronco and its smaller, don’t-call-it-a-cute-ute stablemate, now officially confirmed as the Bronco Sport. We have about a month before Ford pulls back the sheet and reveals the mid-size Bronco in March. Soon after, in April and very likely at the New York Auto Show, we’ll see the reveal of the Bronco Sport.
Ford execs said they hoped that the combined sales of the Bronco and Bronco Sport would exceed 200,000 units for 2021. That means Ford would need to get up to speed in a hurry, as the Bronco Sport launches late in 2020, but the Bronco won’t be on dealer lots until early 2021.
There’s also the hurdle of the competition. Since 2015, Jeep Wrangler sales in the U.S. have averaged 210,000 per year, while the Renegade, perhaps the Bronco Sport’s closest competitor, has averaged 89,000 sales per year. The incredible pent-up demand for an off-road SUV from Ford could make the Bronco a sales success, but Wrangler’s stellar off-road reputation and fierce fans will make it tough to woo buyers.
Price will likely play an important role. Jeep’s 2019 launch of the long-awaited Gladiator was met with an initial fervor, but Jeep was only able to sell 40,000 in 2019, due in part to a high entry price. The Bronco will also have to fend off competition from within the Ford brand, as the Raptor offers off-road utility with a bed. Of course, we expect that Toyota and Chevrolet will fight hard with their off-road pickup offerings as well.
Like the Wrangler, G-Wagon, and Defender, Bronco may rely heavily on buyers looking for a lifestyle vehicle and the cachet that comes with a competent off-road SUV. If the new Bronco is as fun and proficient on the trial as it looks to be, however, its sales goals seem doable, especially spread over two models. After decades of once-proud off-road nameplates like Blazer, Pathfinder, and Scout falling by the wayside, the 2020s look like they’re shaping up to be a renaissance of the capable factory 4×4. It’s about time.