After years and years of waiting, the Ford Bronco is back. America’s original off-road SUV returns with a vengeance, better than ever and ready to conquer trails and competition in equal measure. The 50-year-plus history of the Ford Bronco helps contextualize the journey of this iconic Ford from the sands of the Baja 1000 to the Sanderson Ford showroom in Glendale, Arizona.
First generation (1966-1977)
The legendary Ford Bronco, introduced by Ford in 1966, introduced a new chapter in the automaker’s playbook. The Bronco featured an advanced 4x4 system that was quite literally made for adventure, and its rugged exterior was the perfect complement to the active lifestyles of off-road enthusiasts.
Though the “G.O.A.T.” nomenclature wouldn’t be used in an official capacity until half a century later, the original Bronco was developed to “go over any terrain” with its short wheelbase, coil spring front suspension, and sizable track width. Glendale, Arizona natives could remove the Bronco’s doors, windows, and roof in order to enjoy an open-air experience to soak in the desert sunshine.
Second generation (1978-1979)
Though the second generation of the Bronco was shorter than the first, its high sales numbers demonstrate just how popular this iteration of the iconic Bronco was. Ford made a number of sizeable updates to the Bronco for its second generation, like increasing its footprint by giving it a common architecture with the beloved F-Series pickup.
Though the size increased, Ford made sure the rugged Bronco was still capable enough to handle the demands of the trails. Ford’s commitment to off-road durability paid off, as the Bronco was named the 1978 Four-Wheeler of the Year by an off-roading magazine.
Third generation (1980-1986)
The third generation of the Ford Bronco included many updates intended to improve drivability and comfort while retaining the Bronco’s signature Built Wild™ flair. A durable new independent front suspension was included in the Bronco’s third edition that simultaneously made for a smoother ride while refusing to compromise ground clearance for off-roading.
Other improvements to the Bronco’s third edition included power windows, a new instrument cluster with tachometer, and premium stereos. As a result of a growing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, the third generation Bronco was slimmer than the previous model by 500 pounds in order to increase its MPG rating.
Fourth generation (1987-1991)
When the Bronco moved into the ’90s, the rugged 4x4 shirked its iconic boxy exterior in favor of a more modern, streamlined appearance to promote greater aerodynamics. The Bronco also introduced two special new trim packages: the Nite Edition and the Silver Anniversary Edition.
True to its name, the limited-edition Nite Edition Bronco was blacked-out from head to toe with the exception of a cool-toned ombré stripe and special “Nite” decal. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Bronco, the Silver Anniversary Edition offered leather upholstery for the first time in addition to specially branded carpet, floor mats, and badging.
Fifth generation (1992-1996)
The fifth generation Bronco, the last to be produced for a quarter of a century, continued the improvements in interior comfort and aerodynamics first seen in the previous generation. The fifth-gen Bronco’s newest exterior was its most modern yet, and it included a number of luxurious interior features to match like a digital odometer, cargo net, ergonomic door controls, and lighted visor mirrors.
Several safety considerations were included during this generation as well, including rear seatbelts, a steering wheel airbag, and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes. While many strides were made to make the Bronco a comfortable family vehicle, it was still rugged enough to be the vehicle of choice for United States Forest Service Rangers.
Sixth generation (Present)
After a 25-year hiatus, the Ford Bronco is back and better than ever for 2021. For the first time ever, the Bronco will be available as four-door as well as a two-door, and the family grows to include the smaller yet rugged Bronco Sport. Of course, the sixth generation of the Bronco is just as off-road capable as ever thanks to an advanced Terrain Management System™ with G.O.A.T. Modes™. Depending on the environment you encounter, you can select a G.O.A.T. mode for Sand, Mud/Ruts, Rock Crawl, and Slippery terrain. The next-gen Bronco retains many fan-favorite features like removable doors and Built Wild™ features like best-in-class water fording and ground clearance.
The all-new 2021 Ford Bronco arrives at Sanderson Ford in late 2021. If you’re ready to live your off-road dreams with an American icon, contact our sales team and we’ll let you know how to reserve yours.