Automobile magazine picked up a rumor sent from the other side of the looking glass. Apparently Ford has begun work on a Bronco pickup truck that would give the Blue Oval an arena combatant to fight the Jeep Gladiator. Yes, that’s right — we’re talking about Ford having a Ranger pickup, turning that pickup into a husky, hardy Bronco SUV, then turning that Bronco SUV back into a pickup, but one more lusty and muscular than the Ranger. There’s precedent for a Bronco pickup, since the original model in 1966 offered one. Still, it’s a strange rumor, and we wonder if it goes any way to helping explain why Ford’s been resolute about not offering the current version of the Ranger Raptor in the U.S.
The news gets stranger, though. AutoForecast Solutions, which Automobile credits as the source of the intel, says the Bronco pickup won’t go into production until July 2024. Based on a rule-of-thumb development cycle of five years for a new product, that means the Bronco pickup hit the drawing board not long before yesterday. However, other Automobile sources say the Bronco pickup could come any time after 2022.
What’s more, whereas the Bronco SUV is expected to offer two-and four-door body styles to compete with the Wrangler, the future product whisperers say the Bronco pickup will come in four-door double-cab only, akin to the Gladiator. Behind that, the garbled transmissions point to a bed so short that it “has evoked memories of the Explorer SportTrac.” The new Ranger has a 61-inch short bed and a 72-inch long bed. The Gladiator’s bed extends precisely 60 inches. The Explorer Sport Trac, sold from 200 to 2010, was fitted with a bed just 50 inches long.
2024 is a long way off, though. The way the market’s going, even 2022 is a few galaxies away, so this cloud of news could evaporate before precipitating something solid. If a Bronco hauler does come, we can expect it to crib pages from the SUV playbook, meaning a potential 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, a hybrid powerplant, removable roof and doors, and a Raptor version to counter the soft-roader Bronco Courier versions and turn the hardcore up to “Tilt!”