Ford Bronco II

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Ford Bronco II
Mexico-spec Ford Bronco II
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
AssemblyLouisville, Kentucky, USA
SuccessorFord Explorer
ClassCompact SUV
LayoutFront engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Engine(s)2.8 L Cologne V6
2.9 L Cologne V6
2.3 L Mitsubishi 4D55T Turbodiesel I4
4-speed Mazda TK4
5-speed Mazda TK5
5-speed Mazda M5OD-R1
5-speed Mitsubishi FM145
5-speed Mitsubishi FM146
3-speed C5
4-speed A4LD
Wheelbase94.0 in (2388 mm).
Width68.0 in (1727 mm)
Fuel capacity23 US gallons (87.1 L; 19.2 imp gal)
RelatedFord Ranger
ManualsService Manual
First generation
1986 Ford Bronco II XL
Length158.3 in (4021 mm)
Height68.2 in (1732 mm)
Second generation
Second generation Ford Bronco II
Length161.9 in (4112 mm).
Height69.9 in (1775 mm).

The Ford Bronco II was a compact SUV sold between 1984 and 1990. It was commissioned as a smaller complement to the full-size Bronco as well as to offer a Ford alternative to the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner. The Bronco II was Ford's first compact SUV since the original Bronco sold from 1966 to 1977. It is mechanically and (except in detail) structurally identical to the Ford Ranger. It had a 94 inch (2,388 mm) wheelbase and was enclosed in the rear. The Bronco II, unlike its larger brother the Bronco, had four wheel drive optional (all full sized Broncos were four wheel drive,) and did not feature a removable roof.


The 1984 and 1985 models were equipped with the 115 hp (86 kW) carbureted Cologne 2.8 L V6 engine which was also used in the Ranger from 1984 to 1985. The 1986 model year introduced the 140 hp (104 kW) fuel injected 2.9 L Cologne V6. Overheating the engine usually leads to cracks in the cylinder head between the valve springs or at the base of the rocker shaft pedestals. This results in internal coolant leaks causing contamination of the oil which, if not caught in time, causes severe internal engine damage. Although there were slight improvements to the head castings in late-1989, these heads were not installed on production engines before the production of the Bronco II ceased. Bronco IIs that were still under warranty or at the owner’s desire were retrofitted with the improved heads.

A small 86 hp (64 kW) 2.3 Diesel engine was also offered through 1987, but this engine was rarely used as it offered poor performance.


The first Bronco II was developed in parallel with the Ranger from 1984 to 1988. The restyling of the Bronco II and Ranger started in 1989, but ended for the Bronco II with the end of production in February 1990, replaced by the larger Explorer. The restyling is marked not only by difference in physical appearance, but also improved structural support. 1990 models produced after November 1989 with four-wheel drive came equipped with the Dana 35 front axle, as opposed to the Dana 28 front axle used in earlier production.

The Explorer started where the Bronco II left off with a similar Ranger-based platform, sharing essentially the same front end, but with Ford's new 4.0L OHV Cologne 155 hp (116 kW) V6 and a four door model with a two door Sport option. The Explorer kept to the Ranger based tradition until 1995 when it was overhauled with a major exterior restyling, and chassis modifications to allow the new addition of Ford's 5.0L V8, and that was the end of the line for any reminisce of the Bronco II.

Ford would not market another compact SUV until the release of the Escape in 2001.


Common 4-inch lift & larger tires

There are many common and popular modifications that are done with the Bronco II. One bolt-on modification is on four-wheel drive vehicles to replace the earlier Dana 28 front axle with the later production Dana 35s from Rangers (Note: BroncoII with production dates after November of the 1990 model year are already equipped with the more durable Dana 35 front axle). Retrofitting a Ford 8.8 rear axle is not quite as easy, though it is still a very popular modification. Lift kits are also one of the most popular modifications, either by using drop shackles in the back and larger coils in the front with or w/o radius arm drop brackets and axle pivot drop brackets, and/or a body lift. With both the Bronco II and Ranger there are many possibilities for engine swaps, the most common being either the 302 or 351W Ford Windsor engines or the 4.0 L Cologne V6 from a Ranger or Explorer.


The Bronco II, being a popular SUV choice was dogged by targeted reports that it was prone to rollovers.[1] Some of the headlines in 1989-90 included "NHTSA Investigates Bronco II Rollovers," Automotive News (March 20, 1989) "Magazine Gives Ford's Bronco II 'Avoid' Rating," Wall Street Journal (May 8, 1989), and "Consumer Reports Criticizes Ford Bronco II's Handling," Washington Post (May 18, 1989)

After analysis of SUV crashes of the Suzuki Samurai, the NHTSA opened a formal study of the Ford Bronco II in 1989. There were 43 Bronco II rollover fatalities in 1987, compared with eight for the Samurai, but accident data in four states showed the Bronco II’s rollover rate was similar to that of other SUVs, so the investigation was closed. NHTSA declined to reopen the investigation in 1997 after more Bronco II crashes.[2] SUVs in general tend to have higher centers of gravity compared with passenger cars, and most come with owner warnings today, but there is little conclusive evidence that the Bronco II is much different from other SUVs in this respect.

There were, however, reports that the Bronco II's suspension contained a design flaw that, when turning, forced the side of the vehicle on the outside of the turn upwards, opposite of what a safe suspension should do. This means that not only was the Bronco II top heavy, but it forced itself over. Documented evidence showed that Ford knew about this, but found it less expensive to hire a team of lawyers to prep for the oncoming lawsuits before the vehicle was even released, than it was to pay for a costly redesign.

The successor, the Ford Explorer would suffer a similar fate with the Firestone and Ford tire controversy.


  1. "Safety Research Report Index - Ford Bronco II Rollover" (PDF). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved on 2008-11-11. 
  2. Plungis, Jeff (March 4, 2002). "Rollover complaints dismissed". Detroit News. Retrieved on 11 November 2008. 

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