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Ford is on a roll, but the problem is, Ford in Australia has only one such vehicle, the evergreen Ranger – an ageing pick-up truck that currently bombarded by newer wannabes – and nothing else.
As desirable as the Fiesta ST and Focus ST are, they’re fringe players; the regular Focus has failed to fire; the Mondeo is no more; the Escape lacks the electrification suddenly deemed mandatory by the runaway-bestselling Toyota RAV4.
With the arrival of these blockbuster vehicles, however, Ford Australia might be stuck with the happy problem of several big hits on its hands. At just six per cent market share in 2020, the Blue Oval is a long way off the halcyon days of the 1980s, when it commanded 25 per cent. These vehicles have what it takes to change things.
So, what can you do to change this situation?
Firstly, by sending an email or writing a letter to the Ford Motor Company of Australia; by lobbying your local Ford dealer. Or by putting your money into one of the many current or upcoming rivals from Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Jeep and others, to demonstrate to Ford the folly of its decision to ban these vehicles from our market.
Bring ‘em on…
Mark our words. In the not-too-distant future, there will be a host of car-based pick-up trucks like the upcoming Ford Maverick vying for your hard-earned, and we’ll all be wondering why the company stalled on fast-tracking this segment pioneer for Australia.
Based on the same C2 platform components of two vehicles already on sale here, the Escape medium SUV and Focus, the Maverick is a monocoque-bodied high-riding dual-cab-only utility – so not a ladder-frame chassis truck like the Ranger – that only looks like an F-Series shrunk in the wash.
With its wide tracks, optional independent rear suspension, front or available all-wheel drive and a host of turbo and future electrified petrol powertrain options, this lightweight, spacious and refined five-seater promises to perform, steer, road-hold and ride like a passenger car – and yet have enough ground clearance and mild off-road capability for lifestyle-adventure motoring.
Maverick production is said to commence from July in Mexico, and that’s the site that also builds the Bronco Sport that shares the same platform. Yep, basically, the former is a pick-up version of the latter…
The Escape is a slick German-engineered Euro-designed midsized SUV aimed directly at the Mazda CX-5 and RAV4. But it has a broodier, boxier and more rugged-looking brother sharing the same C2 architecture, called the Bronco Sport.
Definitely not to be confused with the new, regular Bronco that’s based on the T6 Ranger, the lofty Bronco Sport has the appearance and attitude of a 4x4 rock climber, but is in fact also a monocoque-bodied car-based wagon with only soft-road capability at best.
Three- and four-cylinder turbo-petrol engines drive all four wheels via an eight-speed auto, while the suspension includes a rear multi-link set-up, further underlining the civilised, efficiency-focused engineering going on here.
Most mid-sized SUVs are aimed at urban families highlighting practicality and ease, but the Bronco Sport adds a macho adventure image that would give Ford a unique selling proposition and possibly rope-in LandCruiser and Jeep buyers searching for something offering the best of both worlds.
Ford says the Bronco Sport is left-hand-drive-only for now, but as with all the vehicles, the essential components are already engineered for right-hand-drive (RHD). Stay tuned…
Several factors ought to have Ford Australia scrambling to secure the all-new U725 Bronco for our market.
Firstly, there is a huge thirst for information about this famous nameplate here, on the back of high readership for stories about the US-built Bronco since it debuted to massive fanfare in the middle of last year, as well as a successful run with an unrelated two-door 4x4 truck in the 1980s.
Secondly, the Bronco has already proved to be a smash-hit in North America, finally giving the iconic Jeep Wrangler some proper competition. The same could happen here – particularly as it comes in attractive three-door as well as versatile five-door wagon configurations.
Engineered in and around Melbourne, the Bronco is based on the next-generation Ranger pick-up platform, and offers 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol (ex-Mustang) and 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engines. More powertrain options are expected to be announced at a later date.
More broadly speaking, an off-roader with retro styling cues at a fraction of the price of the similarly-themed Land Rover Defender means the Bronco can be that very rare thing in Australia – a classless vehicle transcending pricing and positioning. As a latter-day FJ Cruiser beater (and we hear Toyota is developing a successor), it’s a no-brainer.
C’mon, Ford, you know this thing will provide nothing but excitement Down Under.
This has nothing to do with the old, body-on-frame truck-based SUV sold here in two generations from 1996 to 2004.
The modern-day Explorer is the sort of heartland big family SUV that the Australian-made, Falcon-based Ford Territory really tapped into, and would be a perfect fit for the brand in Australia, given the huge affection the latter still garners.
Aimed at the recently completely redesigned and re-engineered Toyota Kluger and Nissan Pathfinder (due here by year's end), as well as the Kia Sorento and Hyundai’s Santa Fe/Palisade duo, the latest, U265 Explorer is – like them – a monocoque-bodied three-row seven-seater wagon with two or all-wheel drive capability.
One big difference, however, is that the Ford utilises a longitudinal engine and rear-wheel-drive-based layout – like our beloved Territory – and so is possibly even more attractive for towing caravans and such.
Built on Ford’s new CD6 platform, the US or China-made SUV uses 2.3-litre turbo four-pot, 3.0-litre twin-turbo in petrol or plug-in hybrid and 3.3-litre V6 hybrid powertrains – so would be right on the money now that Australians are turning to petrol-electric SUVs in a big way.