Upcoming Off-Road Ford SUV to Use Focus/Escape Architecture – Baby Bronco?
Midsize Bronco SUV Still Using Rugged Body-On-Frame Design
Speaking to an investor conference, a Ford executive confirmed the company would roll out another off-road–oriented SUV after the Bronco, using the unibody Ford Focus as its base.
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 vehicle will likely be the “Baby Bronco” mini-SUV Ford teased a few months ago, which will feature some off-road capability without compromising a smooth ride or good fuel economy. It seems as though Ford might be positioning some of its crossovers to do battle with those from Subaru and Jeep, two lifestyle brands that imbue each of their products with rough-road capability, real or perceived.
That tactic would give Ford a diverse SUV portfolio, allowing the Escape and EcoSport to go up against carlike crossovers such as the Honda CR-V and Nissan Kicks. Meanwhile, the high-riding Focus Active (pictured above) would challenge the Subaru Crosstrek, and the baby Bronco would take on the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk and Subaru Forester. And at the top of the affordable-SUV pyramid would be the rugged midsize Bronco, which will retain its body-on-frame construction and genuine off-road capability.
It doesn’t even take a cynical eye to see that Ford is optimizing its lineup for high profit margins. Thai-Tang himself said the small 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.