It’s been over two decades, but the Ford Bronco has made a triumphant return. Here’s all the details on the resurrected 4×4 legend.
We waited for months, years, decades in fact, but Ford has finally rewarded our patience and brought back the Bronco. And not just one Bronco either, instead we’re gifted with three versions to choose from, all equipped with the off-road chops necessary to take on the most obvious rival, Jeep.
We can start off by saying all that waiting was worth it as the Bronco looks spectacular. The design harkens back to the original, first generation Bronco with its boxy lines, stout proportions, and that grille … did you see that grille? Aesthetically, Ford knocked it out of the park. And as we’ll explore below, the Bronco looks to be pretty darn capable, too.
The new Ford Bronco will be offered in 2-door and 4-door configurations, just like the Jeep Wrangler (this will become something of a refrain in this article). There will also be a crossover version in the form of the Bronco Sport, a.k.a. the “Baby Bronco” that will slot in next to the Ford Escape and be roughly analogous to the Jeep Compass. Let’s dive into the details.
As we mentioned above, the Bronco will come in 2 and 4-door configurations which will largely share features across the six (and a half) trim lines. Four-wheel drive will come standard across all trims, as will the 11.6-inch ground clearance.
There will be two engine options for the Bronco. First is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder (the same as the Ranger) that makes 270hp and 310lb.-ft. of torque. The second option is a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 making 310hp and 400lb.-ft. of torque. There won’t initially be a diesel option, as there is with the Wrangler, but this might be something we see in the not too distant future.
Both engines will have the option of Ford’s 10-speed automatic. But more compelling is the 7-speed manual available with the 2.3-liter engine. Technically, Ford is calling this a 6+1-speed transmission as it adds a crawler gear for rock climbing, with a mind-bending gear ratio of 94.7:1 when paired with the optional electro-magnetic transfer case. The other transfer case option being an electronic shift-on-the-fly set up.
Perhaps most important for the Bronco, and its gambit to take on the Wrangler, is its off-road abilities. Turns out there are plenty of goodies here too, including front and rear locking differentials, independent front suspension and solid rear axle, and a total of seven different drive modes.
Dubbed the G.O.A.T. Traction Management System (as in Goes Over All Types [of terrain]), drive modes include the usual suspects of Normal, Eco, and Sport and then expand to Baja, Mud Ruts, Slippery and Sand, and Rock Crawling modes.
When equipped with optional 35-inch wheels, the Bronco will have a breakover angle of 29° and a departure angle of 32.7°. Maximum fording depth will be rated to 33 ½-inches.
Another area where Ford really excelled with the Bronco was in trim naming conventions, equal parts grandiose and perfectly apropos.
The base Bronco will start at $28,500 for the 2-door and $33,200 for the 4-door version. Here you’ll only have the option for the 2.3-liter engine, 16” wheels with 30” tires, and an 8” touchscreen. Thankfully, Ford saw fit to grant all Bronco’s with their new SYNC 4 infotainment software featured in the upcoming Mustang Mach-E.
In between trims include the Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wild Trak, and, most off-road oriented, Badlands. The very tip top First Edition will be about what you imagine, a limited run version (3,500 total) that will pile on any and everything available at the lower trims and max out at $59,305/$63,500. The de facto top trim Badlands will run to $42,095/$44,590.
As the Jeep Wrangler has the Compass (and Renegade … and Cherokee), so too will the Ford Bronco have an analogous crossover in the form of the Bronco Sport. The Bronco Sport will be positioned, size-wise and pricewise, beside the Ford Escape. Which might be too bad for the Escape because the Bronco Sport will be clearly the better looking and more capable of the two.
To wit, the Bronco Sport will also feature two engine options, a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder (found in the EcoSport and Escape) making 181hp and 190lb.-ft. of torque or a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder good for 245hp and 275lb.-ft. of torque. Both are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and 4WD will come standard.
As for off-road, the Bronco Sport looks to be a step down from the Bronco proper but still more capable than the rest of the compact crossover segment as a whole. Unlike the Bronco, the Bronco Sport will not have a 2-speed transfer case, but it will have independent front and rear suspensions, available locking differential, and G.O.A.T. terrain management system with rock crawling mode. Ground clearance starts at 7.8-inches but can be upgraded to a class-leading 8.8-inches.
In the rear, the Bronco Sport has a standard liftgate but adds opening rear glass for easy access, a feature we’d love to see on more crossovers.
The Bronco Sport will get an 8-inch touchscreen, but unlike the Bronco itself, will have to settle for the last-gen SYNC 3 infotainment software.
The rear seat offers some unique storage options including under the seat storage bins, seat back packets with loops to hang items, and a built in zippered pouch for items like tablets and books.
The Ford Bronco Sport will start at $28,155 and is scheduled (fingers crossed) to hit lots by year’s end.