It's finally here. Sort of. Ford has released the first look of its upcoming 2021 Bronco SUV in the form of the Bronco R, an extreme, race-prepped 4WD prototype vehicle that will compete in portions of this year's Baja 1000. The SUV is heavily modified with a lightweight composite body, an off-road racing suspension and 37-inch off-road tires pushed far out to the corners. But it does provide several hints at the production version that is soon to follow.
Ford says it built the Bronco R prototype using a modified version of the body-on-frame platform that it uses for its midsize Ranger pickup. This will underpin the upcoming production Bronco, too. The Bronco R's basic suspension design — a five-link rear suspension with a solid axle and an independent front suspension — will also be used for the production model.
Under the hood of the Bronco R is a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. The company says that, too, is a sign of things to come but would not provide any further detail about the engine's displacement or horsepower.
Around the exterior, the Bronco R presents a sleek and chiseled body that is undoubtedly exaggerated for racing. Those massive fender flares aren't making it to dealerships. But the aggressively boxy silhouette, upright windshield, and flat hood and roof are likely to be a preview of the 2021 Bronco. We think even the wide front end with bold Bronco lettering and squared rear taillights are a good bet for the production model. And we think buyers will fall for it.