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With more than 200 factory-backed accessories available at launch, this 2021 Bronco two-door prototype shows how owners can personalize their SUV to get more out of their outdoor experiences. Aftermarket accessories shown not available for sale. Prototype not representative of production vehicle. (Image courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)

The rumors of a V-8 powered Bronco began gathering steam after the Ford confirmed it was reviving the iconic SUV for the 2021 model year. The eight cylinder was a very popular choice during the Bronco’s original production run, and it easily made you forget the model also offered a 4.9-liter straight six as its base engine. But buyers hoping for a return to form had their hopes crushed, with the Dearborn based auto giant revealing that a V-8 infused Bronco model is not in the company’s plans.

This is according to a recent interview the folks at Muscle Cars & Trucks had with Bronco chief engineer Eric Loefller.

“We have to manage the CO2 implications of the product.” he said .”The way the federal requirements are now it’s all shadow area (footprint) based. If you look at the shadow area of a small off-road vehicle, it has a pretty high target from a government perspective in terms of CO2.”

Loefller also revealed that while the majority of Bronco owners care about horsepower, torque and fuel economy, they don’t necessarily care about how many cylinders are lurking under the hood. This sentiment also goes along with prior statements from Ford that appear to confirm that the company is placing its bets on the 2.3 and 2.7 liter powerplants, with the latter choice being tasked with delivering a performance boost that can also satisfy tightening environmental regulations.

But while this report appears to all but close the door on a V-8-powered Bronco, that doesn’t mean Ford is abandoning plans to spice things up a bit for the existing model lineup. The rumored Raptor variant could get the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 that’s also found in the Explorer ST. In that model, it produces 400 horsepower, so look for a Bronco version of this engine to perhaps retain that figure if Ford chooses to go that way. A fuel-sipping Bronco Hybrid is also allegedly in the works, with that model being a targeted response towards the recently unveiled Jeep Wrangler 4xe.

As for those still wanting a V-8 in their Bronco, Ford’s refusal to do so could be a golden opportunity for aftermarket companies to win big in addressing this pent up demand. The Bronco certainly has a lot of the tools out of the box to be compatible with such a conversion, especially when paired with the Sasquatch package. Perhaps Rousch, Hennessy and others have a surprise or two lurking in their garages on that front.

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