We don’t often take an interest in new SUVs but every once in a while, there is one that is true to its classification and just so happens to have had a big impact in automotive history. The Ford Bronco ticks those boxes and this monicker has been brought forward to the present after being absent for around 24 years. With the pony badge, the Bronco is as iconic as the Mustang and that’s why the birth of a new one is quite significant to the market and the company.
Here are 9 things you need to know about the all-new Ford Bronco:
Ford reckons the origins of the Bronco can be traced all the way to their WWII “GP” jeep from 1941. But the first-ever Bronco was launched in 1966 with the early designs penned by McKinley Thompson Jr. It established its 4×4 credentials with an overall victory at the Baja 1000 and the first ever to do so as a production vehicle.
The Bronco evolved and grew through the generations but stayed true to its two-door design, tall and boxy stance, wagon-style roof design for the rear cab and chunky grille. Ford had a lot of rich history to draw inspiration from and tackle the monumental task of recreating its iconic SUV in a way that it would fit the modern automotive climate. I think they nailed it with the new design with the high clearance, sleek circular headlamps with the line cutting into them and the BRONCO badge in its modern lettering style.
First-ever Four-door Version
The new Bronco stays true to the original’s two-door design but Ford has also introduced a new four-door version alongside it. It’s a first for the Bronco badge but a very important one as larger SUVs can no longer succeed on nostalgia or ruggedness alone. The four-door avatar brings the Bronco into consideration as a fun car for everyone and as a family SUV.
Its wheelbase and overall length are nearly 16-inches longer while the width and height are usually the same across trims.
Built for the Wild West
The Ford Bronco is offered in a variety of trims and gets a 4×4 powertrain as standard. Its terrain management system is actually called G.O.A.T. in the marketing materials and has seven modes – Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl. The last three modes are specially developed for serious off-roading. In the advanced 4×4 system, the Bronco features a two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode to select between 2H and 4H. In terms of clearance, the Bronco’s body is 11.6 inches (295mm) away from the ground when wearing the 35-inch all-terrain tyres with a maximum 29-degree break-over angle and 37.2-degree departure angle in its most off-road focussed variants. In the base avatar, its at least 8.3 inches (211mm) off the ground running on 16-inch steelies and 30-inch all-surface tyres.
More rugged details about the new Bronco include an independent front suspension, solid rear axle featuring coil springs with five locating links, long-travel Bilstein dampers and massive off-road tyres from the factory. It can also get the option of semi-active hydraulic stabilizer bar disconnect design for maximum articulation and increased ramp angle index for off-camber terrain. The wading depth is listed at an impressive 33.5 inches (851mm).
In terms of design as well, the new Bronco is adventure-ready. The two-door models come with a standard three-section roof system (left and right front sections and rear section). Four-door models get a removable full-width centre panel. These roof panels can be removed by one person with unlockable latches from the inside. The first-row panels can be stored onboard in the case of the 2-door Bronco. Four-door Broncos get a soft top as standard with the option of a hardtop as well. The frameless doors are easy to remove and in case of a four-door model, the four doors can be stored onboard with protective bags.
For the cabin, Ford has tried to find a good status-quo between comforts and using durable materials for rugged use. It has washable rubberised floors with integrated drains and high-grade vinyl seating surfaces that resist mildew, wipeable dash and instrument cluster with silicone seals in the required areas to protect them from the elements. The diff-locking controls are mounted at the top of the flat dashboard for minimal distractions while bucking about in the wild west.
Ford is offering the new Bronco in various forms and colours and even claims over 200 dealer-installable accessories. The various trims of the new Bronco are the no-frills base version moving onto the Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, Badlands and even a First Edition version of which only 3500 units will be built. Each version meets a different set of needs in terms of the balance between daily driving and off-roading.
Each trim is available with optional packages that add some more features either in terms of looks, rugged capabilities and or onboard technology.
Packed with Modern-day Ford Tech
Speaking of technology, the new Bronco is not an SUV of compromise. The instrument cluster is said to be inspired by the first-gen model and a multifunction LCD in the centre. While an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is offered as standard, the Bronco gets the option of a 12.0-inch display for Ford’s SYNC4 system with connected car technology and off-road navigation. The system also allows owners to plan, navigate and share their adventures in the wilderness or even try out specially curated trail maps.
As a daily-driveable SUV, the Bronco also gets Ford’s driver-assist technologies for increased safety and comfort, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera with special off-road spotter views, power outlets and camera mounting points, climate control and heated front seats. It’s a Bronco but it doesn’t have to be wild ALL the time.
The new Ford Bronco comes with two engine options and neither of them is a V8. Instead, the choices are between two EcoBoost engines – a 2.3-litre turbocharged inline-four or a 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6. The four-pot’s output is estimated at 270hp and 420Nm while the V6 can churn out 310hp and 542Nm.
The 2.3-litre engine gets a 7-speed manual gearbox as standard with a crawler gear with the option of Ford’s 10-speed automatic. The auto is the only option offered with the more powerful engine and it’s the same transmission offered on the current Ford Endeavour in India.
There’s a Baby Bronco Sport Too
The four-door isn’t the only first for the new Bronco as Ford will also be offering a smaller version of its rugged SUV called Bronco Sport. It’s a smaller SUV with four-doors that would fit in with the compact SUV landscape if it weren’t for that Bronco front fascia. This is the one aimed at lifestyle Instagrammers and a predominantly female buyer audience for pottering around town and a weekend getaway for nature snaps. Its intended consumer base might not be remotely interesting, but the Bronco Sport is.
Like the real thing, it too gets 4×4 as standard along with the same G.O.A.T. all-terrain modes. The Mud/Rut and Rock Crawl off-roading modes are only offered on the Badlands and First Edition models. All variants get independent front and rear suspension. It also gets a wide range of dealer-fittable accessories like LED tailgate floodlamps, a sturdy roof rack that can also be used for overnight camping and a 5-way configurable cargo area. In terms of cabin features, it gets the SYNC3 infotainment system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, Ford’s optional Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assistance and safety systems, dual-zone climate control and a large digital display between the dials in the driver’s instrument clusters.
The engine options for the Bronco Sport include a 1.5-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder engine that makes 181hp and 258Nm of torque while mated to an 8-speed automatic. The other engine on offer is the optional 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-pot unit that can churn out 245hp and a sufficient 373Nm of torque. It too has an 8-speed auto but with paddle shifters in manual mode.
In its most rugged version with optional 29-inch all-terrain tyres, the Bronco Sport has a clearance of 8.8 inches (around 223mm) while the base model stands 7.8 inches (around 198mm) clear of the ground. That’s a long way off from the real Bronco but its plenty for the casual adventurers.
How Much Is It (in the USA of course)?
I’m not sure how useful this information is to you guys but it does help understand who the Ford Bronco is aimed at, as well as the Bronco Sport. The Bronco’s prices start from just under USD 29,000 for the two-door version and around USD 33,000 for its four-door avatar before options. Given that the First Editions are already booked, you can go for the Wildtrak trim which is around USD 50,000, a grand either side depending on how many doors and that’s before options. You can reserve a booking for USD 100 and you’ll know if you can get one by December. Deliveries are likely to begin in June 2021 but given its sheer popularity, you might even have to wait till 2022 to get yours.
What about the baby Bronco Sport? Well, this one’s a bit simpler and a lot cheaper at the top end. Its prices start from a little less than USD 27,000 and the BadLands (First Editions are booked up) starts at under USD 33,000. In a good spec to use it for going on weekend adventures in the great outdoors, the BadLand spec Bronco Sport touches USD 39,000. For this one as well, production will start in late 2020 so you might get yours by around mid-2021.
What’s the Competition?
The Bronco is Ford’s contender to another American automotive icon – the Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler is also available in two-door and four-door avatars, it is renowned for its 4×4 off-roading abilities and is a lifestyle vehicle that can do it all. The two are similarly priced as well but the Bronco just looks a lot better in my opinion.
Meanwhile, the Bronco Sport is for a much more competitive market of rugged cars used for city driving. It’ll be taking on everything from the Jeep Compass to the Toyota Rav4. The Bronco Sport looks nicer of the lot and as long as Ford gets the final product right, I think it’ll do just fine.
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