Capping off what feels like the slowest striptease in automotive history, you’re finally looking at the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco. A hundred bucks payable at Ford.com reserves yours today with deliveries scheduled to begin next spring.
So this is Jeep’s worst nightmare. A category they’ve monopolized now has a new kid on the block…one that moved away in 1996 and now returns to a hero’s welcome.
Starting at $30,000, the new Bronco is taking several pages from the Jeep playbook such as being offered in 2- or 4-doors and coming on strong in the serious off-road department but with a resume that’ll have the Wrangler doing some soul searching.
The basics are this: power comes from either a 2.3-liter turbo-4 producing 270 horsepower or a 310 horsepower 2.7-liter twin-turbo grunting out 400 pound-feet of torque. The 7-speed manual, offered only on the base engine, gets a crawler gear that can result in a near 95:1 crawl ratio.
A 10-speed auto is optional. The standard 4-wheel drive system is a part-time, 2-speed setup while the optional advanced system includes an Auto setting and a deeper low gear. A Dana 44 solid rear axle pairs with a high efficiency Dana AdvanTEK independent unit in the front, both available with lockers and Bilstein dampers.
Ford claims the Bronco has significantly greater suspension travel than Wrangler thanks to an available front sway bar disconnect that can be initiated during articulation. And segment first 35” tires and beadlock-capable wheels are available on every trim level. With them, ground clearance is an impressive 11.6.” There are up to 7 drive modes, none of which are called OJ for slow-speed highway driving.
Ford says they’ve also stuck it to Jeep as it pertains to going naked…with quicker and easier removable roof panels, rear quarter windows, and doors. A cloth soft top is standard while the 4-door Bronco can be optioned with both. Certain Bronco models come with washable rubberized floors with integrated drains and marine-grade vinyl seating surfaces that resist mildew.
And Ford says their trail mapping system is a game changer in the off-road community, with advanced topographic views of more than 1,000 curated trials. In response to Jeep’s Trail-rated badge, Ford refers to their rigorous tests as Built Wild Extreme.
Series range from a base Bronco, a no-frills SUV for those who want to customize their own, to Big Bend™, Black Diamond™ and Outer Banks™ with a variety of options and colors, topping out with Wildtrak™ and Badlands™ for more extreme off-road adventuring. A limited-production First Edition™ will be offered at launch.
So the Bronco is back and it’s even brought with it a little brother, known as the Bronco Sport – a subcompact 4X4 for those with less adventurous intentions.
But the big Bronco is finally ready for primetime and has Jeep quickly readying a HEMI.