Ford Authority

No, Ford’s New Bronco Will Not Look Like This

Earlier this month, we showed you spy photos of a Ford Bronco prototype, and many didn’t like what they saw in the photos. In fact, some even derided the way the prototype looked, calling it ugly and writing it off as something they will not be interested in. So in an attempt to be the voice of reason, we’ll come out and say that Ford’s new Bronco will not actually look like the vehicle in the spy pictures. So, here’s to taking a deep breath and examining what’s really going on.

The vehicle in the photos is a very early prototype of the new Bronco. In industry speak, a vehicle in the stage of development that we see here is referred to as a “mule”.

The purpose of a mule is to jump-start the engineering end of the vehicle development process and to test what has been developed in the lab and/or on computers, enabling a “proof of concept” of sorts. In many cases, a mule is the first type a prototype gets driven in the real world, rather than in simulators.

Depending on the stage of development, mules are typically clobbered together from various parts and components used by the automaker on other vehicles (see the cab from the Ford Ranger), or those quickly fabricated for the purposes of developing the vehicle and without much consideration for its aesthetics.

The takeaway here is that most of the parts used on a mule will be changed significantly before the vehicle goes into production. This applies even more so to components impacting the vehicle’s exterior design – such as the body panels, lights, bumpers, and other exterior equipment. And that’s where the prototype for the new Bronco comes into play.

It’s very likely that the vehicle we photographed is a first-stage mule. As such, we believe that it was not wearing any production-intent pieces on the exterior, explaining why its cab seems to be straight off the new Ford Ranger.

Take that to mean that the new Bronco will look nothing like the vehicle seen in the spy photos. That said, the production-intent Bronco will probably have the same general dimensions (wheelbase, front overhang and rear overhang) as the mule… but the actual design will be drastically different.

So, here’s to letting Ford work on the new Bronco without jumping to any premature and simply incorrect conclusions.

Subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford Bronco news and around-the-clock Ford news coverage.

Ford Authority founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

Subscribe to Ford Authority

For around-the-clock Ford news coverage

We'll send you one email per day with the latest Ford updates. It's totally free.


  1. Donald Hayes

    Anyone thinking that test mules is the final concept of the Bronco has to be totally out of touch with development. What I’m seeing in a Ranger with a very short bed and a bed cover. I’m guessing powertrain and suspension testing before it’s installed in a camo body that will be close to what the rear Bronco will actually look like. I agree. For a test mules. It’s weird looking

    1. Alex Luft

      Spot on. But the noise and hate that some started to spew upon seeing the mule was atrocious.

  2. Eric

    Kind of the same way how the C8 started out as a holden pick up truck 3 years ago. Looked nothing like a Corvette but under the skin was the real goods

  3. David White

    It “cobbled” together.

  4. JC

    I still have faith Ford will screw up the Bronco and I’ll get pi$$ed off and sell my Ford stock!

    1. JS

      Sell it now so i can buy it up while it’s cheap. It’s gonna climb once it debuts. Loyalists and purists will be happy when they see it.

  5. Blake Avery

    So Ford says the Bronco will be out in 2020…. The teaser on their web site has not changed in the past year (old boots and a compass….really?). It’s now well into the 2019 model year…..

    I think the new Bronco is some sort of urban legend…Kind a like Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster and 100 mpg vapor carburetors. Its either that or Ford isn’t confident enough to start teasing the Bronco seeking public with marketing teasers and smoke filled hints. Heck, let’s see a blurred image of the beast running trough the woods like we see of Sasquatch.

    If its not a myth, I hope they get it right. I’d love to put a Bronco back in my stable again!


Leave a comment