Is this 'mule' the new Ford Bronco?

The new Ford Bronco may have been busted.

An odd-looking vehicle was spotted on the streets of Detroit that could be a test “mule” for the upcoming, but yet-to-be-revealed SUV.

The black and white-camouflaged truck combined the modified front half of a Ford Ranger SuperCab with an extremely short bed wearing a cap. Its wheelbase was significantly shorter than the production Ranger’s, with the rear wheels tucked right up against the cab and barely any overhang behind them. It was wearing a serious set of off-road tires and a front bash plate, which is exactly what you’d expect to find on a reboot of Ford’s most legendary SUV.

2020 FORD BRONCO: FACTS AND FANTASIES

It also has an independent front suspension, while the rear one is covered by a fringe. The Ranger features a solid rear axle, but it’s possible that the Bronco could break with tradition and go with an IRS, as Land Rover is doing with its new Defender. Vehicles like this are a typical part of the development process and allow automakers to test drivetrains and underpinnings before a design is finalized.

The overall size of the truck looks very similar to that of the two-door Jeep Wrangler, and while Ford hasn’t confirmed that there will be a two-door version of the Bronco when it debuts next year, a Toyota FJ Cruiser-style setup, with rear-opening half-doors like the Ranger SuperCab offers, is a strong possibility.

(Ford)

The only official image Ford has revealed so far shows a boxy vehicle covered by a sheet with roughly the same proportions as the mystery machine. Ford probably won’t pull that wraps off of the production version until much later this year, if not next, but what it has officially revealed so far is that it will be built alongside the Ranger at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne and will offer a selection of powertrains that includes a hybrid option.

2019 FORD RANGER TEST DRIVE: