Ford Bronco Concept Unveiled at 2004 Naias
Incorporating key design features reminiscent of the original Ford Bronco, Ford re-explored the roots of the popular sport utility vehicle in a concept that made its debut at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. Some of the more obvious features included a boxy, upright roofline; a short wheelbase; round headlamps; and the Bronco nameplate milled into the modern three-bar grille. Other similarities to its predecessor include exposed door hinges, cowl vents, and flared wheelwells.
Although the Bronco Concept shares a few visual cues with the early Bronco, the likeness between the two wanes a bit once you examine the driveline. Ford borrowed from its European product range and produced a 2.0L common-rail Duratorq TDCi engine. The 16-valve turbodiesel mill is mated to a six-speed Power Shift transmission and a fully automatic Intelligent 4WD system. This new 4WD system, which will be seen in production on the '05 Ford Escape, uses a fully computer-controlled clutch that engages the rear wheels only as needed. Yes, that's right, the Bronco Concept is driven by its front wheels in normal conditions. Using sensors at each wheel and the accelerator pedal, the system's computer calculates exactly how much torque to send to the rear wheels to minimize slip.
Aside from looking pretty cool and probably being an on-road-worthy SUV, the Bronco Concept is a little far off from what most of us expected. Nonetheless, it is an effort to capture the past. Ford built the rig to showcase its advancing powertrain technology and not necessarily to appease all of us early Bronco junkies dying for something usable on the trail. You never know, though. We're pretty sure we could make it into something if given the chance.
'05 Grand Cherokee Spied
We've been hearing news of a new DaimlerChrysler launch for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. After changing the launch date a number of times, sources now tell us that the company will offer a new Grand Cherokee at North American dealerships as early as November. The '05 Grand Cherokee WK will feature a longer wheelbase, a new independent front suspension, and an optional 350hp 5.7L Hemi V-8. A longer seven-passenger version of the WK is likely to follow the launch as an '06 model and may be designated as the Grand Wagoneer.