2021 Ford Bronco Warthog Spied Looking Ready for Dirty Things

2021 Ford Bronco Warthog Spied Looking Ready for Dirty Things

Camo Can't Hide the Raptor-Grade Kit

  • As the Raptor is to the F-150, the Warthog will be to the Bronco.
  • Prototype pairs beadlock-capable wheels with what look like Fox Live Valve adaptive shocks.
  • Flared fenders hint at big power under the hood.

Ford hasn't been shy about showing off the not-yet-for-sale 2021 Bronco, even when it's still wrapped up in camo. The high-performance Bronco prototype you see here, nicknamed Warthog, features poorly concealed fender flares that have us wondering if the engine — likely a turbocharged V6 — will cross the 400-horsepower threshold.

But that's just speculation. What we can clearly see in these spy shots are Raptor-spec wheels and tires, along with special shock absorbers that are likely similar to the Raptor's Fox Live Valve shocks.

So let's take a look at what those parts do and what it means for the Warthog. Or Bronco Raptor. Or Brontor. Whatever, just build it already.

The Bronco Warthog May Have Exclusive Fox Live Valve Shocks

2021 Ford Bronco Warthog - Profile

2021 Ford Bronco Warthog - Profile

It's likely no coincidence that the bright orange shocks we see on this Bronco prototype are the same color as the Fox Live Valve units that come standard on Ford's original desert destructor, the Raptor. These monotube shocks have a larger body, which enables them to hold more oil and provides more surface area for better heat management. That's critical when you're pounding through a dry riverbed or down a washboard road at, ahem, high speeds. The Fox Live Valve units also contain an electronic solenoid that facilitates continuously adaptive responses to changing conditions.

Fitting Raptor-grade shocks to the lighter, narrower Bronco seems like a no-brainer. As much fun as we've had gallivanting around in the Raptor, it is a pretty big truck that's not going to fit up every trail. A smaller, lighter SUV that can tackle tight trails with Raptor-like gusto should be a surefire win for Ford in the high-performance off-road market.

Beadlock-Capable Wheels for Even Dirtier Things

2021 Ford Bronco Warthog - Wheel

2021 Ford Bronco Warthog - Wheel

First, yes, you can get these wheels on the Raptor. But what are beadlock-capable wheels and why might you want them? In a traditional wheel/tire setup, the bead of the tire is sealed against the inside of the wheel and held there by air pressure. If the pressure drops too low, the bead can separate from the wheel and you'll have an instant flat tire. Lowering tire pressures is a common practice when going off-roading, and the slower you're likely to go (like crawling), the lower the pressures you're likely to run.

That's where beadlock-capable wheels come in. They allow for the bead of the tire to be clamped against the wheel by a metal ring secured with an array of bolts, empowering you to run tire pressures in the low double or even single digits without risking a mellow-harshing flat tire in the middle of nowhere. The downsides to beadlock wheels are extra cost and extra weight (they're essentially two-piece wheels with a lot of extra bolts), as well as extra maintenance needed to ensure the beadlocking bolts stay tight. But if you're going for maximum off-road capability, they're a must-have.

2021 Ford Bronco Warthog - Detail

2021 Ford Bronco Warthog - Detail

The spy photos also reveal some serious rubber on those fancy wheels. If you've been paying attention, you might have guessed that these 37-inch tires are the same 315/70 R17 BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A meats you can get on the Raptor. Looking at how they fit (or don't), you can get a good sense of how much capability is lurking below all that black spray paint and trippy camo wrap.

Edmunds Says

The Ford Performance engineers have apparently fitted some juicy Raptor hardware to the upcoming Bronco Warthog, which is shaping up to be another apex predator in Ford's off-road lineup. Stay tuned to our Ford Bronco page for the latest news and pricing, including the official debut of this ultra-capable Bronco variant somewhere down the line.