Aside from the gradual trickling of teasers regarding the forthcoming Ford Bronco, the ladder-framed 4×4 has now been spotted running road trials in the United States. The ladder-framed model is based on the T6 Ranger but will be distinct from the Everest SUV, and an earlier teaser silhouette suggested that it will have a shorter wheelbase than either model.

The development vehicle pictured here is the five-door model, one of two bodystyles that will be part of the production Bronco line-up, the other being the three-door version. Behind the camouflage is the recognisably blocky silhouette, and parts of the circular headlamp design can be seen through the foil. Its tail lamp assemblies are still concealed, though the tailgate-mounted spare wheel setup from the concept is present.

Likely to be pitched against the likes of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, the Bronco appears is likely to feature fortified components for strong off-road capability, and will possibly include front and rear locking differentials. The Wrangler gets anti-roll bars that can be disconnected via a switch in the cabin for greater axle articulation, though it remains to be seen if the upcoming Bronco will get a similar equipment set.

A Ford presentation slide from July noted that the Bronco and its smaller, ‘baby Bronco’ sibling will enter production not as global models but for the Americas, and so the Bronco is likely to get the 2.3 litre EcoBoost petrol engine mated to a 10-speed automatic – similar to the combination in the Mustang – along with 4WD and a low-range ratios.

In the Mustang, the turbo petrol four-pot produces 300 hp and 441 Nm of torque. By comparison, the equivalent four-cylinder Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has 270 hp and 400 Nm from a 2.0 litre displacement. Though still largely concealed in test mule guise here, the Bronco is likely to already be in an advanced stage of development, given that Ford’s product plan places the Bronco for a debut in the Northern Hemisphere spring of this year, which will be before the end of the second quarter.

The aforementioned product plan ends at the year 2020, so while the petrol Bronco is set for the Americas, the Middle East and Africa, there’s no ruling out future versions of the Bronco for 2021 and beyond, and electrification for the Bronco beyond this timeline hasn’t been ruled out.