Few vehicles are as iconic as the Ford Bronco, especially if you’re interested in SUVs. Following Ford’s announcement that the Bronco will be making a return in 2020, interest in the classic version has spiked, making this the perfect time for a brief overview of this capable icon’s history.
First Generation: 1966
The first generation of the Ford Bronco lasted from 1966 to 1977 and was available as a hardtop, convertible, or pickup truck. It borrowed some features from the Ford F-100 pickup and had a transfer case to help it go off-road with ease. There was also the choice of two engines, offering six or eight cylinders. When it arrived, the Bronco competed against the International Scout and Willys Jeep CJ. It focused on taking drivers and passengers over any terrain they came across rather than strictly on delivering comfort.
Second Generation: 1978
When the second generation of the Ford Bronco arrived in 1978, it only had a single body style: a three-door featuring a removable hardtop. To the casual observer, the Bronco was very similar in appearance to the F-100 and featured just V8 powertrains. This generation saw the introduction of the tailgate with a rear window lowering into the door, which is now a signature Bronco feature. Ford claimed this generation would comfortably fit six adults. In addition to a standard V8, it came with a Dana 44 front axle and a Ford 9-inch rear axle.
Third Generation: 1980
For the third generation in 1980, the Ford Bronco got more comfortable. One obvious change was the move from spelling out “Ford” on the grille to simply including the logo. Because of the fuel crisis during the end of the previous decade, Ford re-added a six-cylinder engine to the lineup. This generation also saw a revised suspension in front, something which gave the off-road-oriented model more on-road manners. The other major difference was that the Bronco got a bit shorter.
Fourth Generation: 1987
Just like the previous generations, the Bronco’s fourth generation looked very similar to the F-Series trucks while sharing features with the refined options. The amount of truck influence decreased slightly for 1987, but it was still obvious. This generation had a 5.0-liter V8 that was able to reach 100 mph, satisfying drivers’ desire for a fast SUV. There were a total of two V8s plus a V6 in this generation, all of which had electronic fuel injection after 1988.
Fifth Generation: 1992
The fifth generation of the Ford Bronco lasted from 1992 to 1996 and is the most recent iteration of this SUV. This generation had a softer appearance and emphasized passenger safety. Those who liked the removable hardtop of previous models were disappointed to find a fixed roof on this one; in this case, many went with the classic or used models. When Ford discontinued the Bronco in 1996, replacing it with the Expedition which remains popular today and seems more like an SUV than a truck.