Ever since the Toyota FJ Cruiser left the North American market, the Jeep Wrangler has had no direct competitors to take it on, but Ford is no longer letting Jeep go unchallenged. Meet the new 2021 Ford Bronco.
Ford didn’t just look to match the Wrangler either, with every off-road metric that matters eclipsing its cross-town rival, at least in the Bronco’s most off-road-worthy configuration. Both two- and four-door models will be available, and the roof and the doors of both new Bronco models will pop off. Yes, it’s clear that Ford benchmarked the Jeep Wrangler for its Bronco; but there are plenty of differences, so let’s dive into the details.
Two powerplants will be available with the Bronco: a base 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine offering 270 horsepower and 310 pound-foot of torque, and an upgraded turbocharged 2.7-litre V6 with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines will be paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, but the more exciting choice is a brand-new seven-speed manual including an ultra-low creeper gear, available only with the smaller 2.3L.
Every Bronco sold will have standard four-wheel drive, with two different flavours available. The basic transfer case is described as 4x4 with part-time selectable engagement, while the advanced 4x4 setup will have on-demand engagement, a 4A setting for automatic four-wheel-drive engagement when needed and a 3.06:1 low-range ratio.
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Ford Bronco Flavours
Before we look closer at the off-road gear and capability, first it’s important to understand all the different types of Broncos. Six different trims plus one special launch edition will be available. Just 3,500 launch editions will be built and they will only be sold in the U.S., so we’re not going to cover that model in-depth here.
Here are the six different trims and the intent of each:
- Base – The most basic Bronco, for those who want a blank slate
- Big Bend – Off-road capability with more creature comforts and interior technology
- Black Diamond – Additional off-roading features, including standard steel bumper, skid plates, and rear locker
- Outer Banks – City slicker model focused on style and technology in the Bronco
- Wildtrak – High-speed desert runner
- Badlands – Ultimate in off-road capability; all the best off-road equipment comes standard
Let’s get straight to the goods: available 35-inch tires, a Dana 44 rear axle, locking differentials in the front and rear, disconnecting front sway bar, Wrangler-beating angles, steel bumpers with removable front caps, and 11.6 inches of ground clearance. Ford did not skimp on the Bronco when it comes to off-roading, though not every Bronco will get all these goodies. And it should be mentioned that Ford did go with an independent front suspension rather than a solid axle, one of the few decisions made where the Ford differs from a Jeep.
There are a number of different wheel and tire options that will dictate how good the clearance on each Bronco model will be. Base Broncos come with a set of 30-inch tires, good for a total of 8.4 inches (21.3 cm) of ground clearance, while 32-inch tires are standard on Black Diamond and Outer Banks models. Badlands models will come with 33-inch tires while the Wildtrak models come with the 35-inch tires that are part of the new Sasquatch package. Yes, you read that right: you can add a Sasquatch to your Bronco.
If the 35s are what you truly desire, Ford will let you add the Sasquatch package to any Bronco model, bringing with it the big feet and outdoor prowess of its namesake. With the 35s fit, the Bronco has 43.2 degrees of approach, 29 degrees of breakover, 37.2 degrees of departure, and 11.6 inches of ground clearance.
Besides the tires, Sasquatched Broncos will get 17-inch beadlock wheels, a locking front and rear differential, high-clearance suspension with Bilstein position-sensitive dampers, and Ford’s advanced 4x4 system that includes some clever new tech features.
First, the Bronco will come with eight G.O.A.T (“go over any type of terrain”) off-road driving modes with focuses such as mud, sand, and of course a Baja mode for high-speed running. There is also a new Trail Turn Assist feature that uses torque vectoring and braking to drag the rear inside wheel to help the Bronco turn tighter off-road.
Overall crawl ratio with the seven-speed manual’s creeper gear and the advanced 4x4 system lands at 94.75:1; while the standard 4x4 system and the manual lands at 79.92:1. Opting for the automatic with advanced 4x4 nets a 67.8:1 crawl ratio, or 57.19:1 with the basic transfer case.
Protection from a full skid plate package is available on all Broncos, with a front bash plate available on some models along with a set of rock rails.
Utility and functionality were clearly at the forefront as Ford developed the interior of the new Bronco, evidenced by the two large grab handles for the front passenger and rubberized floors with optional drains that can easily be hosed out. New marine-grade vinyl seat options are also available that resist water and mold, for those days when the outside comes in.
The long horizontal dashboard features a new device mounting rack for easy access to your camera, GoPro, GPS, or other devices. A standard eight-inch screen will be built into every Bronco, though upgraded models with come with a 12-inch touchscreen.
Finding new trails is easier than ever as well, with an updated navigation system that has a large collection of trail maps already loaded in, getting you ready for your next trip to Moab or the Rubicon trail.
And once you find your playground, you can go open air with two-door models packing a standard three-piece roof system while four-door models come standard with a cloth soft-top roof. For those who want both hard and soft tops, the Bronco can be optioned with both. The doors on the Bronco are also removable, while four-door models allow you to store all four doors onboard inside bags.
Tow capacity for both two- and four-door Bronco models is pegged at 3,500 lbs, while payload rating is 1,170 lbs for two-door models and 1,370 on four-door Broncos. At the back end of the Bronco, a swing gate allows you access to the rear storage area.
For the adventure crowd who like to bring their boats with them, new tie-down points have been incorporated onto the hood of the Bronco, saving you from having to find something solid underneath to latch onto. And when there is nothing tied onto them, the handles show you exactly where the front corners of your Bronco are.
Pricing and Availability
Ford is now taking $100 reservations for both Bronco models in Canada, with plans to actually begin shipping them in spring 2021. All Broncos will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. Pricing will begin at $40,199 for the Bronco base model, while the ultimate off-road Wildtrak model will go for about $62K.
It’s clear that Ford didn’t skimp on the off-road prowess of the new Bronco, taking the fight to the Jeep Wrangler in all the ways that count. It’s always exciting to have more enthusiast-focused vehicles on the market, and Ford looks like they have a hit with the new Bronco.