Ford Motor Co. begins sales of the Bronco II SUV — a rival to the Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet S-10 Blazer and GMC Jimmy — on March 10, 1983.
Billed as utility station wagons but with far more function, the Bronco II and its competitors became some of the most popular light trucks offered by Detroit automakers in the 1980s, ushering in the compact-SUV market.
They were marketed for their go-anywhere capability, and not for their creature comforts, Hemmings said. Though Michael Coates, editor of 4-Wheel & Off Road magazine, told The New York Times in October 1984 that it was "suddenly ... respectable to drive up to the country club in an S-10 Blazer."
Hagerty once called the Bronco II the black sheep of Ford's family of SUVs because it never gained a following in the market for classic automobiles and among collectors and enthusiasts.
With an initial, affordable price of around $12,500, the Bronco II, also known as the Deuce and Junior, was available from the 1984-90 model years. It was slightly larger than the original 1966-77 Ford Bronco and based on the Ford Ranger compact pickup, with which it shared more mechanical and structural parts.
It was powered by a 2.8-liter, V-6 engine rated at 115 hp. Addressing consumer complaints about a lack of power, Ford introduced a fuel-injected 2.9-liter V-6 engine with 140 hp and 160 pound-feet of torque for the 1986 model year. It was offered only with four-wheel drive until 1986 when rear-wheel drive became standard.
The Bronco II was dropped and replaced by the Explorer after the 1990 model year.
In 1994, responding to complaints and lawsuits from consumers and safety advocates that the SUV was prone to rollovers, Ford agreed to offer free inspections at dealers and advice on handling, as part of a settlement covering 700,000 Bronco IIs. As part of the deal, owners received a sticker cautioning drivers to avoid unnecessary sharp turns and abrupt maneuvers; a videotape detailing how the Bronco II's handling characteristics are different from standard cars; and an addendum to the owner's guide.