2021 Ford Bronco dissected by famed designer Frank Stephenson

Ford's blockbuster new SUV goes under the design microscope with the man responsible for the R50 Mini Cooper and the original BMW X5.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
3 min read
2021 Ford Bronco two-door
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2021 Ford Bronco two-door

Ford's Bronco is one of this year's hottest new debuts, but what does an A-list designer think of it?

Ford/Frank Stephenson

It's rare to hear car designers talk publicly about their contemporaries' work -- especially those from other companies. While they'll more freely gush about (or pan) vehicles from the distant past, designers seldom talk about new cars, trucks or SUVs, presumably to avoid making their peers uncomfortable with either shame or praise. That's just one of the many reasons why Frank Stephenson's new video analyzing the 2021 Ford Bronco is so interesting.

Frank Stephenson, who recently started his own YouTube channel to dissects car design, is best known for his work on the rebirth of the Mini brand -- in particular, he's credited with penning the R50 Mini Cooper. Anything but a one-hit wonder, Stephenson went on to lead work on the first BMW X5 before hanging his shingle at Ferrari and Maserati. He would eventually oversee design at McLaren Automotive before starting his own consultancy. In other words, Stephenson knows of what he speaks -- especially when it comes to revitalizing old nameplates -- so it's particularly fascinating to hear him talk about Ford's new Bronco.

Suffice it to say, Stephenson likes what he sees of Paul Wraith and Company's new body-on-frame brawler. In particular, he appreciates that the Bronco wears its utility on its sleeve, yet "this vehicle doesn't look like something you'd use like a chainsaw, it has a softness that I find very appealing," he says. Stephenson goes on to say, "It always astounds me how we can still capture, as designers ... that grown-up feeling of a vehicle that precedes it by 20 or 30 years. It's kind of matured in a very controlled way."

Frank Stephenson, car designer
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Frank Stephenson, car designer

Frank Stephenson talks Bronco.

Frank Stephenson

At just 8 minutes long, the video is a quick watch, and somewhat less detailed than some of Stephenson's other videos where he dissects vehicles he's been a part of designing, like the aforementioned X5 and the McLaren P1. In the end, Stephenson gives the 2021 Ford Bronco an 8.9 out of 10 on his personal design scale -- and he freely admits he's never put a perfect score on any vehicle. (This, from a man who isn't afraid to publicly critique a new-car design, even from a company he once worked for.)

Stephenson's design score seems pretty close to what the world's reaction seems to have been for the Blue Oval's new SUV so far, but we've got a long time before we can see these new 4x4s out on the street and on the trail to be sure: The 2021 Ford Bronco isn't due to hit dealers until next spring. In the meantime, if you're still keen to watch more on the new Bronco's design, be sure to check out Roadshow's recent interview with the new SUV's designer, which is packed full of interesting nuggets and surprising details.

2021 Ford Bronco 2-Door looks to be an off-road warrior

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