They’ve finally appeared, after years of the faithful praying and begging, after years of seeing the Jeep Wrangler do well, years after putting the original horse down in the name of a more family-friendly super-wagon. The Ford Bronco line has returned, and it’s arriving in two main forms: Bronco and Bronco Sport. Make no mistake, Ford has one other manufacturer directly in their crosshairs with the return of the kicking horse, but it also nods deeply into their heritage…the Bronco itself might be the most retro thing Ford has cranked out since the 2005 Mustang. And it’s done in a measure that so far, seems to be just the right amount of throwback. There’s a LOT of wordplay going on over these machines, so in the interest of skipping over the history lessons, the “Built Wild” campaign, the G.O.A.T. (goes over all terrain) terrain management system and the joys of aftermarket and factory accessory listings, here’s the meat and potatoes of what the new off-roaders from Ford are all about:
2021 Ford Bronco
You know somebody within Jeep had to go scream after seeing the pictures of this thing, right? Look at it. Do you know how hard it is to out-butch the Wrangler? On looks alone, Ford might have a winner without one tire turning. But that isn’t the point of a vehicle like the new Bronco. Wheels must turn, and they must turn over every surface you could dream of. So, what do we have here? Two engines, the 2.3L EcoBoost four (270 horsepower/310 ft/lbs) and the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 (310 horsepower/400 ft/lbs). A 10-speed SelectShift automatic or a seven-speed manual (six-speed plus crawl) pairs off with a four-wheel-drive system that can show up with a 67.8:1 crawl ratio (auto) or a 94.75:1 ratio (manual). Good lord.
The front suspension is independent, the rear is a coil-sprung live axle with a five-link and Bilstein long-travel dampers with end-stop valves at ever corner will keep your spine from crunching like a soda can. 35-inch off-road rubber is standard, and beadlock wheels are an available option. The SYNC system has available 360-degree cameras with off-road spotter view , and topographic trail maps and over 1,000 curated maps are gathered from sources such as NeoTreks, Trails Offroad and FunTreks guides, so you can get lost without having the embarrassment of having to call the park ranger to save your ass. A steel roll cage with integrated side curtain air bags is just part of the safety considerations that have been engineered into the rig, as have other interesting and useful features, like MOLLE hooks and a host of grab handles for when you do something that’ll turn your passengers white with fear.
Finally, here’s what should clue you in that Ford isn’t screwing around with the new Bronco: in the press release, they pushed some interesting details. 11.6 inches of ground clearance. A maximum breakover angle of 29 degrees, a 37.2-degree departure angle, and water fording of up to 33.5 inches.
Yeah, somebody over at Jeep broke a coffee mug.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport
It’s so difficult to not automatically call it a Bronco II. But size-wise, that’s exactly where the Bronco Sport fits in Ford’s new off-roading family. Two engines are selected here as well: the 1.5L EcoBoost four (181 horsepower/190 lb/ft) or the 2.0L EcoBoost four (245 horsepower/275 ft/lbs) and both are paired off to an eight-speed automatic. Five trim levels will be offered: base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition. The G.O.A.T modes are available here too, and offer up setting like Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand. Mud/Ruts and RockCrawl modes are available on Badlands and the First Editon.
The suspension is independent front and rear, and makes the most of the 4×4 system, which uses a twin-clutch rear-drive unit and a differential lock. The Badlands and First Edition series come with 46mm diameter monotube rear shocks, softer springs and antiroll bars for better articulation. Bash plates, frame-mounted tow hooks that can take 100% of the weight of the Bronco Sport individually, and the ability for the Badlands and First Edition to wade through 23.6 inches of water just fineattest to the fact that even as a junior model, the Bronco Sport does indeed have the chops to play off-road with it’s bigger brother.
We can’t wait to get our hands on one. Ford…don’t hold out on us.