2021 Ford Bronco
The original, 1960s Ford Bronco is a true automotive icon. Tidy, simple, and immensely rugged. And while Ford claims the all-new 2021 Bronco is its direct descendant, times have changed. Still, much like the original, its mission is clear. Give Jeep’s Wrangler some serious competition.
Indeed, it’s hard to drive anywhere without seeing a jacked up Jeep Wrangler driver wave to another jacked-up Wrangler driver. And admittedly, on the road is where most of them stay. We say that to point out that neither the two or four door 2021 Ford Bronco necessarily needs to “out-Jeep” a Wrangler. There’s plenty of room in the SUV world for small, capable, rugged utilities that look like they’d be unstoppable in any situation. The Bronco certainly does and has the all right stuff to back it up.
For Bronco that starts with two 4×4 systems. A basic 2-speed hi-lo shift on the fly transfer case, and a more advanced electromechanical unit.
The Bronco, not to be confused with the crossover-based Bronco Sport, is built on a fully-boxed steel frame with 7-crossmembers. Plenty of add-on underbody protection is available, and there’s a maximum of 11.6-inches of ground clearance.
Up front, an independent suspension with alloy A-arms and long-travel coil springs. While in back, is a solid axle 5-link rear, with up to 35-inch tires available.
Our initial test was of a two-door Bronco in Black Diamond trim. Black Diamond includes upgraded front and rear bumpers, a black grille, rock rails, and durable vinyl upholstery with rubber flooring.
Like most rivals these days, Ford relies on electronics to do much of the heavy lifting with multiple G.O.A.T. modes for their Terrain Management System, available Trail Control, Trail Turn Assist, and even One-Pedal Drive.
However, it’s not a chore at all to drive the Bronco on pavement for daily use, with plenty of modern creature comforts and unique touches inside to make it interesting.
Another big part of the Wrangler’s appeal is the ability to remove its roof and doors. Bronco not only accomplishes this; the two front roof panels require no tools to remove; but does way better when it comes to take-along storage.
Ford offers a pair of turbo engines to choose from. Standard is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost I4 with 300–horsepower and 325 lb-ft. of torque. Optional, is a 2.7-liter V6 turbo that at 330 only has 30 more horsepower, but cranks out 90 additional lb-ft. of torque. A 7-speed manual transmission with extra-low crawler gear is standard with the 2.3-liter. An optional 10-speed automatic comes standard with the V6.
For our complete road test of the reborn Ford Bronco, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #4110 that begins airing on PBS November 12, 2021. For a listing of the PBS public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About the Show” tab at the top. You can also watch weekly episodes of MotorWeek on our cable partner MAVTV with new episodes airing each Saturday at 7:30 PM. Check their entire schedule at MAVTV.com. MotorWeek can also be streamed in its entirety on PBS.org/MotorWeek, as well as on PBS Living, a part of Amazon Prime Video. The test of the Ford Bronco will also be available at motorweek.org and on youtube.com/motorweek.
It’s doubtful that the 2021 Ford Bronco will put an end to Jeep Wrangler’s reign. But, it’s a fantastic alternative that does a lot of things well, and has already earned the necessary trail-cred of both true off-roaders, and those that just like to look like them.