Two of the biggest reveals at the Detroit Auto Show happened on an empty stage. In the span of just two minutes, Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, and Raj Nair, executive vice president of global development, confirmed that the Ford Bronco SUV and Ford Ranger pickup, after years of hoaxes, hints, and lots of circumstantial evidence, are finally, officially, happening. The Ranger will arrive in 2019, and the Bronco will follow shortly thereafter in 2020.
For those of you out there who haven’t been caught up in the internet-fueled mania behind the Ranger and Bronco, here’s a primer: The Bronco was a rugged, go-anywhere compact 4×4 that launched in 1966. For the next 30 years, it had a devout cult following until it was ignominiously discontinued in 1996. Since then, thanks to its timeless looks (regardless of generation), and sterling reputation off-road, plus a couple well-received concepts, the Bronco’s following has swelled in recent years. Four Wheeler’s 2014 April Fool’s Day article on a new Bronco went viral, kicking off the trend of auto journalists — including, admittedly, us — doggedly reporting on every scrap of innuendo, non-denial, or sliver of evidence coming out of Dearborn since.
As for the Ranger, it was a tough-as-nails compact pickup introduced in 1983, and produced on the same platform until it was discontinued in 2012. Simple, reliable, and surprisingly capable, millions of Rangers still live on as work trucks around the world. And as pickups continue to get larger and more luxurious, there’s been a growing chorus of consumers who want a back-to-basics pickup, and not much else. But while we still don’t know much about the Bronco, we do have a pretty good idea of what the next-generation Ranger will look like.