Although the Ford Bronco II enjoyed quite a short run, it still proved to be a very important part in the evolution of Ford’s SUV range. The second among Ford’s string of compact SUV’s, the Ford Bronco II enjoyed much of its term as one of the more popular, entry-level compact SUVs in the market. However, several roadblocks resulted to the production of the final Bronco IIs six years after its introduction.
1984-1988: Ford revives its compact SUV
When the Ford Bronco left its compact roots and became a full-size SUV in 1978, Ford lost its entry in the booming compact SUV market for several years—until the Ford Bronco II came to the rescue in 1984. With overwhelming competition from other major compact SUVs like the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, the GMC Jimmy, and the Jeep Cherokee, the Bronco II definitely had a lot to prove during its introductory phase.
The first Ford Bronco II was very mechanically similar to the Ford Ranger. Both had a carbureted 2.8L Cologne V6 engine that had 115 horsepower, but the Bronco II had a 94-inch wheelbase and an enclosed rear. These four-wheel drive Bronco IIs were also 800 pounds lighter than its bigger Bronco brother.
An upgrade came in 1986 with a fuel-injected 2.9L Cologne V6 engine together with a two-wheel drive version for the Bronco II. For the 1987 model year, an optional 2.3L diesel engine was introduced. However, the diesel engine's meager offering of 86 horsepower did not draw too much appreciation. This model year also saw the addition of a rear ABS or anti-lock braking system for the compact SUV.
1989-1990: The Bronco II’s last hurrah
Although the front fascia of the Bronco II experienced a major redesign, there were little changes elsewhere for the compact SUV as it approached its final years. While there were big restyling plans for both the Bronco II and the Ranger in 1989, the end of the run for the Bronco II in 1990 meant that it would only experience the improved structural support from a Dana 35 front axle and not much else from the restyling.
A snowball of events led to the end for the Bronco II. The increasing gas prices brought about a lot of compact SUVs from various makes. Even though the Bronco II was a popular choice for offroaders who were looking for an inexpensive, rugged vehicle, the stiff competition from more stylish and polished compact SUVs proved to be too much for the Bronco II to handle. However, the departure of the Bronco II left a spot for what was destined to be one of Ford’s biggest successes—the Ford Explorer.