Body-on-Frame SUVs Are Low-Risk, High-Reward for Ford

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They were left for dead long ago, but consumers can’t get enough of them. In turn, automakers are happy to oblige.

It was just a few years ago when everybody and their mother proclaimed the death of body-on-frame construction as, inevitable. Which surprised no one, really. After all, this dinosaur of the automotive realm was akin to the horse and buggy, with similar ride quality and hefty weight. The advantages of unibody construction were undeniable, and their eventual takeover was inevitable. But then, something funny happened along the way.

Despite their alleged inferiority, consumers can’t get enough of body-on-frame vehicles. Not only that, but they’re wildly profitable for automakers to produce. So against all odds, this layout has not only survived but thrived. Just look at the incredible popularity of the Jeep Wrangler as proof. Most certainly, the reemergence of the Ranger and the Bronco here in the United States.


There are quite a few external factors fueling the body-on-frame revival. For starters, gas is cheap, the economy is booming, competition is scarce, and people are prone to buy vehicles that aren’t fuel-efficient. Not to mention as secondary rides they can use as off-road toys. Enter the rough-and-tumble world of lifestyle vehicles! Since they share components with mass-produced trucks and SUVs, automakers don’t exactly mind building them.


When you consider the inherent upside of the new Bronco,
you’d be right to think that Ford would be crazy not to build one.


“Because you’re not starting with an all-new platform, you’re starting with something and leveraging an investment you’ve already made. It just makes [an SUV] much easier and less risky,” Craig Patterson, Ford’s large-SUV marketing manager, explained to Automotive News.

The Bronco is a perfect example. Even if it flops, which is unlikely, there’s little risk for Ford to build it. This is because the Bronco shares the same platform with the Ranger, which is already mass-produced and sold around the world. On the other hand, if the Bronco succeeds, its low cost of development and production means big profits for Ford.


Ford can combat the disadvantages of the traditional body-on-frame SUV with modern technology. New components and powerplants are lighter and more fuel-efficient than in the past. Unsurprisingly, Patterson also told Automotive News that the presence of an EcoBoost engine in the new Bronco was “inevitable.”

Lastly, we can’t forget the big money Ford stands to make selling aftermarket parts for the Bronco! The Jeep Wrangler is easily one of the most widely customized new vehicles on the market, and the Bronco stands to enjoy similar success. As you can tell, it’s a no-brainer.

Viva la body-on-frame construction!

Chime in with your thoughts on the forum. >>

Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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