For decades, Jeep Wrangler was the undisputed king of the affordable off-road vehicles for people who despise soft, urban SUVs. But in 2020, after decades of anticipation, Ford has decided to revive its most prominent off-road legend and challenge the Wrangler in a highly publicized automotive duel, which will be fought in dirt, sand, and mud.
In one corner, we have an undisputed champion, Jeep Wrangler, and in the other, we have a challenger – 2021 Ford Bronco. Let’s see what the reborn off-roader from Dearborn has to offer.
The last Bronco sold by Ford was a big, massive, boxy off-roader built on a truck chassis with chrome grill and two-tone paint job. It was discontinued in 1996 when SUVs started ruling the middle-class suburban driveways as we know them today.
Despite being efficient and capable, Bronco was simply too archaic and was pushed out of the lineup by Explorer and Expedition as Ford’s primary SUV offerings. However, the 2021 Bronco is something different, it is a revival of the original 1966 model, both in terms of design and concept, and it is a thoroughly fun machine. Ford’s intention was not just to present Wrangler’s competitor in the off-road market but also to present a lifestyle vehicle that should steal some of Wrangler’s hard-earned reputation and image.
2021 Ford Bronco Drivetrain
Even though it came as a disappointment to so many Ford fans, the 2021 Bronco will not be made with a V8 engine, nor is a V8 version in the pipeline. At the moment, you can order it with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 unit. The smaller engine, well-known from the Mustang and the rest of Ford’s lineup, delivers 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque while the bigger unit produces 310 hp and a pretty serious torque figure of 400 lb-ft.
The standard transmission is a 7-speed manual, and Ford’s well-known 10-speed automatic is an option. The 7-speed is interesting since it really a standard 6-speed manual with added first gear for rock-crawling. During everyday use, you shift it like a standard 6-speed, but you have that 7th gear just in case. There are two transfer cases available, one with 2.73:1 and the other with a 3.06:1 ratio. All Broncos will come with locking front and rear differentials as standard equipment.
Interestingly, Ford didn’t use body-on-frame technology for the 2021 Bronco, instead engineered it as a unibody vehicle. Some off-road enthusiasts might consider this a slight disadvantage compared to the Wrangler’s sturdy chassis. However, Ford is proud to announce that Bronco’s chassis have class-leading approach and departure angles as well as the highest ground clearance.
2021 Ford Bronco Trim Levels
One of the proofs that Ford is serious about this model is that Bronco is offered three body styles, right from the start. There is a compact two-door and more practical, four-door standard Bronco as well as more civilian Bronco Sport.
The two and four-door Broncos use their own platform, but Bronco Sport is based on Ford Ranger mid-size truck. This means that Sport has more space, better road manners and is aimed at people who want to go off-road on the weekends but still need a usable SUV during the week. This is a smart move by Ford since it offers extreme all-terrain machine and typical SUV both in the same lineup.
At the moment, Bronco comes in six different trim levels for the standard model and three for Bronco Sport. The prices start at $29,995 MSRP for Base two-door Bronco with 16-inch steel wheels, manual transmission, and 2.3-liter four-cylinder. The cheapest Bronco Sport is the Big Bend priced at $28,800 MSRP, which is available with the same engine but 17-inch steel wheels.
From there, Broncos are getting more expensive and more capable, and with each successive trim level, you will be getting more options and more off-road usability. Currently, the highest trim level is plush Bronco First Edition at a whopping $60,000, which has everything, including big infotainment, massive 35-inch off-road tires, special paint choice, and 2.7-liter V6 with 310 hp.
However, regardless of the trim level, what you really want is a very competent Sasquatch package. Available on all trims and standard on the First Edition, this is option combines hardcore off-road components, heavy-duty suspension, brakes, sway bar deactivation systems, and specific driving modes. It comes only with automatic transmission and costs $5000. Knowing that it will transform an already very promising all-terrain vehicle into an off-road beast, we think it is well worth the investment.
If you are looking to buy a new 2021 Ford Bronco, we must inform you that Ford recently announced that it received over 230,000 reservations for the new model. Although the reservations are not the same as sales figures, it is obvious that this is one of the hottest cars of 2021, and the demand will be insane. This also means that dealers will likely charge hefty premiums over MSRP prices.
2021 Ford Bronco Features
Apart from classic convenience features, heated seats, infotainment, and audio systems, the 2021 Ford Bronco is coming with some very interesting toys.
Most important is the Trail Turn Assist, which is a system designed to automatically apply brakes to the inner wheel while you are turning on the trail. This way, your turning radius will be smaller, and you can maneuver better in challenging conditions.
There is also a “one-pedal-driving” system that will calculate the vehicle’s elevation, angles, and speed and let you drive without pressing the pedals and concentrating on steering.
Similar to the Wrangler, Bronco comes with the option of removable roof and doors but also offers special rubberized floors with drain plugs so you can literally wash down your interior after an off-road hard drive.
What do you think about the new Bronco? Will you get on the wait list for one?