SUVs

Ford's 'baby Bronco' will use Focus, Escape components

It might not be very rugged, but it'll probably look the part.

Ford put out this teaser for its small, rugged SUV in March. It's way cooler than the Escape, that's for sure.

Ford

Automakers are traditionally tight-lipped about future products, only choosing to talk about them when the time is absolutely right. Which is why it's surprising that Ford is already ready to talk about a sub-Bronco SUV with a more rugged image than Ford's other small SUVs.

Ford will produce an off-road-styled SUV to slot beneath the Bronco, Reuters reports, citing a speech by Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's executive vice president of product development. At an investor conference, Thai-Tang said that this new "baby Bronco" will sport a unibody chassis and share parts with both the Focus and Escape

Additionally, sources told Reuters that the sub-Bronco's styling will be reminiscent of the vintage, '60s-era Bronco SUV. The source said the vehicle could debut as early as 2019, but that seems pretty quick, given we don't even know what the actual new Bronco even looks like yet. Ford first brought up the idea of a smaller, more rugged SUV back in March, but it didn't offer up this much information at the time.

That all might not sound too rugged, but there's a purpose behind it. Folks who want true off-road cred will likely spring for the big-boy Bronco once it goes on sale, so think of this one more as a lifestyle vehicle, even though I'm cringing just typing that out. By relying on a bunch of already existing parts, Ford can speed up development and get new vehicles to consumers faster. Ford's sales in China recently took a double-digit dip because its lineup is on the older side, so placing the focus on speeding up new product development is probably a good idea.

That said, there's a chance I could be wrong (and, in this case, I sort of hope I am). "Ford's all-new, yet-to-be-named rugged small utility will be a no-compromise 4x4 for thrill seekers who value off-road functionality," Ford said in an emailed statement. "We'll have more details to share later." If it's a proper off-roader, not only will I eat my hat, I'll do it while scaling a rocky incline.

Ford originally announced the return of both the Bronco and Ranger at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. While the Ranger has since broken cover, the Bronco that shares its ladder frame has not yet made an appearance. Hopefully, we'll get an idea of what it looks like during one of the next major auto shows, whether it's Los Angeles in November or Detroit in January.