Ford has launched an assault on the Jeep Wrangler, now it’s putting a target on the Gladiator’s back.
The Bronco is built on a variation of the T6 chassis underpinning the Ford Ranger ute, developed in Australia.
Rumours about a dual-cab Bronco ute have persisted since the automotive world first heard the regular four-wheel drive would be making a comeback, but there’s been no official word about the car since the new Bronco and Bronco Sport launched.
There’s no doubt demand for a Bronco ute would be strong. Less than six months after its reveal, the regular Bronco had racked up more than 190,000 reservations.
Power in the Bronco comes from a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine producing 201kW of power and 420Nm of torque, mated to either a seven-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission, while the turbocharged 2.7-litre V6 makes 231kW and 540Nm, and is available only with the auto.
Like its bigger brother, the Ford Escape-based Bronco Sport will get a ute brother.
It will also mean the Maverick will have a lower payload than its siblings, and will likely be less capable off-road.
With a broad, flat front end and C-shaped headlights, the front end is tougher than that of the Bronco Sport SUV, and has plenty in common with how we expect the next-generation Ranger to look.
Power is likely to come from the same engines offered in the Bronco Sport.
It’s powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol three-cylinder engine with 135kW of power and 260Nm of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Regardless of engine, the Bronco Sport will be offered with all-wheel drive and a set of G.O.A.T. (Go Over Any Terrain) off-road modes.
A leaked tailgate schematic leaked last year indicated the new ute will wear Maverick badges, a name last used in Australia on a rebadged version of the Nissan Patrol.
The Maverick name has popped up on various Ford-badged models over the year, including the first-generation Escape and a rebadged Nissan Terrano II in Europe and the Falcon’s 1970 successor in North America.
For North American buyers the Maverick will likely be pitched as a lifestyle vehicle, but in Latin America it could be sold as a more upscale alternative to other car-based utes, such as the Fiat Strada and Volkswagen Saveiro.
As such it would give the Blue Oval access to a market it hasn’t competed in since the Bantam ended production in South Africa in 2011, and the Courier (above) reached the end of its run across Latin America in 2013.