Ford’s effort to generate two streams of customers for its Escape compact crossover by splitting the model into two nameplates, each with a distinct persona, is well underway, with the brawnier of the two bound for an April debut.
Unofficially, that debut is today, as leaked images have hit the web of an unclothed Bronco Sport, aka “Baby Bronco.”
The images come by way of FullSizeBronco.com revealing for the second time a boxier take on the new-for-2020 Escape. Images that surfaced in late 2018 showed a similar vehicle, though these pics of a pre-production model show Ford’s decision to more prominently display the model’s name. Note the use of BRONCO in place of a grille-centering FORD or a traditional Blue Oval badge.
Outback, it’s more of the same, though the “Sport” tags along here (albeit with smaller lettering).
Riding atop the same platform as its Escape sibling, the Bronco Sport will undoubtedly reach deep into that same parts bin for its propulsion. Expect a base 1.5-liter three-cylinder and uplevel 2.0-liter turbo-four; the Escape’s hybrid variants might not provide the image the Bronco Sport wants to get across.
Boxier, upright, and considerably more slab-sided than the Escape, the Bronco Sport seems to aim purposely for better front and rear departure angles. Its ride height seems greater than that of an Escape, too. Given its nameplate, Ford will want to endow the model with more than just butchier looks and two-tone paint.
I’m not the only TTAC writer who thinks this thing harkens back to the second-generation Escape (2008-2012), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Land Rover Freelander came up in conversation, as well. While the round headlamps’ retro vibe is somewhat tempered by their large expanse of protective plastic, which looks awkward when viewed at an angle, the overall look is miles away from the Focus-on-steroids face of the Escape.
Outback, it seems the Bronco Sport received as much peer pressure from its namesake sibling as the Explorer. The tail lamps look an odd fit.
The actual Bronco is scheduled for a public debut this month, followed soon after by the similar-in-name-only Bronco Sport. The smaller of the two vehicles goes on sale first, arriving in dealerships late this year.