Ford to Offer Unibody Baby Bronco Built on Focus Platform
2020 Bronco Still Gets Body-on-Frame Construction
In addition to the midsize, body-on-frame 2020 Ford Bronco, the company will reportedly introduce a smaller off-road SUV using the unibody Ford Focus’ mechanicals.
Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s executive vice president of product development and purchasing, was presenting at the J.P. Morgan Auto Conference in New York City on August 8. The discussion turned to Ford’s new C2 modular platform, which will underpin the successors to the current Ford Focus and Escape and will be available in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations. According to Thai-Tang, the platform will also form the base of an unnamed future product with “off-road positioning and imagery,” distinguishing it from the less rugged Escape.
This Focus-based vehicle is likely the mini-SUV Ford teased a few months ago, which should offer “baby Bronco” heritage styling in a more fuel-efficient wrapper. Alongside the upcoming Focus Active (pictured above), the baby Bronco would give Ford even more coverage in the soft-roader segment. It’s likely the Focus Active, which is a lifted and slightly more rugged version of the next-generation Focus hatch, would serve as Ford’s answer to the Subaru Crosstrek.
Meanwhile, the mini-Bronc would foil Jeep’s Renegade Trailhawk and Subaru’s Forester, both of which offer reasonable off-road performance for fire roads and the like. That would free up the Escape to become more carlike and efficient, going after the Honda CR-V in the process. And of course, the body-on-frame Bronco (teased below) will still go after legitimately rugged SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner.
With a lineup shifting from small cars to crossovers and SUVs, Ford is optimizing its lineup for high profit margins. Thai-Tang himself said the unibody off-road crossover would “allow us to command really high pricing premiums” compared to other models on the C2 platform. But today’s automotive marketplace is one that values crossovers over just about any other segment, so it’s not hard to understand why Ford wants to take a bigger slice of the pie.