Baja-blitzing Bronco gets ready to buck

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The Ford Bronco has returned as a family of off-roaders, but there’s room for more.

In July, the 2021 Ford Bronco was revealed in two- and four-door forms alongside the smaller Bronco Sport with turbocharged powertrains, four-wheel drive, and off-road capability.

Ford’s not done. A higher-performance Bronco has been in the mail since day one. Ford teased the 2021 Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) flying through the air in September. On Tuesday, the off-roader was spotted roaming the streets of Michigan.

“Bronco and Bronco Sport are meant for high-speed off-road driving and we have plenty of excitement ahead,” said Ford spokesman Jiyan Cadiz in July.

Here’s how a more capable Bronco might take shape.

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor


The most powerful 2021 Ford Bronco announced so far has a 2.7-liter turbo-6 that makes 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. A high-speed desert-running Bronco model will likely have, and need, more power. That could come from a 3.0-liter turbo-6 from the Explorer ST or the 3.5-liter turbo-6 from the F-150. The high-output variant of this engine in today’s F-150 Raptor and Limited puts out 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. A lesser version of this engine makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.

The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engines would fit in the Bronco, which is based on an updated version of the Ranger’s T6 platform. The smart money is on a high-output version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 with about 400 horsepower.

Ford Bronco Warhog/Raptor teased

Ford Bronco Warhog/Raptor teased

Suspension and other hardware

The high-performance Bronco will need a beefier suspension with lots of travel, room for large tires, and probably unique beadlock-capable wheels.

2021 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots

2021 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots

The Bronco is available with 35-inch off-road tires, Bilstein shocks, and high-performance off-road suspension. That’s where today’s Bronco ends and the high-performance variant would begin. Camouflaged prototypes are rolling on Sasquatch-spec 35-inch tires. The BFGoodrich K02 all-terrain tires are LT315/70R17s.

2021 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots

2021 Ford Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) spy shots

The spy shots show orange shocks, which are likely the electronically controlled Fox 3.0 bypass shocks from the current F-150 Raptor. These shocks have active damping, external bypass technology, and a 9-chamber design.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor


What’s in a name? The Bronco is sold in six trims, including base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, and Badlands.

Reach into the Bronco’s history and there aren’t a ton of terrific historical nameplates to add for a high-performance variant. Eddie Bauer anyone?

In 1965 Ford introduced the 1965 Bronco Dune Duster and displayed it at the Detroit auto show in November. It featured an NHRA-approved roll bar with integrated headrests along with exposed chrome exhaust pipes—and walnut appliqués. The dashboard featured suede padding and walnut-trimmed control knobs. It wasn’t an off-roader, but the name would be fantastic for a high-performance desert runner.

Ford’s built a truckload of brand equity with the Raptor name. A Bronco Raptor could work, but Ford might reserve it for its F-Series of pickup trucks. The next-generation Ranger will get a Raptor model in the U.S.

YouTube channel RevMatchTV reported the Raptorized Bronco might be called the Bronco Warthog, which would make a lot of sense as, like Raptor, it uses a tough animal as its name.  Ford added fuel to the rumor fire when it filed a trademark application on Sept. 9 to use the Warthog name on a vehicle.


Historically, the Raptor variant of the F-150 has lagged by a year or two, but Ford seems hot to trot with the Bronco and wants to keep this horse bucking. With a teaser image already released in September by Ford of a Bronco Raptor (or Warthog) flying in the air it’s likely the high-performance Bronco will debut before the Bronco hits dealer lots in the spring of 2021. We’d expect the Bronco Raptor/Warthog in dealers later in 2021.

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