2021 Ford Bronco Wildtrak Is One Big Tonka Toy

Test Drive / 2 Comments

CarBuzz was invited for some epic off-roading outside of Vegas.

Those who don't understand or who have never experienced the joys of off-roading have probably paid little attention to the reborn Ford Bronco. That's their loss. But it's never too late to join the fun. CarBuzz was invited to the snow-covered and gorgeous mountains outside of Las Vegas earlier this month for one main mission: off-roading the Bronco Wildtrak. We weren't at just some random outdoor location but rather one of Ford's Off-Roadeo adventure playgrounds.

There are currently four locations across the US: Moab, New Hampshire, Texas, and Nevada. This is where Bronco and Bronco Sport buyers receive proper off-roading instructions and gain practical hands-on experience. The whole point is to fully understand how to use their SUV's impressive off-road systems like the Trail 1-Pedal Drive and G.O.A.T Modes. There is no classroom time; the driver's seat is your desk.

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Snow-Packed Mountains

It was raining the day before our arrival but a cool front struck overnight, resulting in unexpected but very much welcomed snow. The fresh powder covered the trail our convoy of two- and four-door Bronco Wildtrak was set to embark on. Rocks were difficult to see and the ground became somewhat slippery. None of this posed a challenge for Ford's new Jeep Wrangler rival.

The Bronco Wildtrak two-door comes standard with all the necessary tools for going way, way off the beaten path. A set of 17-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch all-terrain tires, steel bash plates, a 4.7 locking rear axle final drive ratio, rear locking differential, and a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 275 horsepower are all included. That's all yours for just $43,990, including destination.

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Your Off-Road Chariot Awaits

Our Oxford White four-door tester came packed with extras like 17-inch black high gloss-aluminum wheels wearing 35-inch mud-terrain tires, a heavy-duty front bumper, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost with 310 hp, and the Sasquatch Package. The latter tacks on a 4.7 final drive ratio with front and rear axle electronic locking, and higher suspension and fender flare clearance.

Inside, the $5,085 Lux Package brings adaptive cruise control, SYNC 4, and a Bang and Olufsen 10-speaker sound system. You're looking at around $56k all in. Guys driving $100k Range Rovers will cry tears of envy.

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Cruise Control At 1 MPH

Ford knows that not every Bronco buyer wants to use the numerous advanced off-road systems all the time. They can be shut off for old school, analog off-roading. We highly recommend them for less experienced drivers. Particularly impressive is the Trail 1-Pedal Drive, essentially cruise control at one mile per hour.

This comes in handy during serious rock crawling as the system keeps the big SUV at a slow and steady pace without damaging the underbody, for example. Just when you think a large rock might have defeated the Bronco, the system kicks in, releasing the torque it built up over several seconds. Before you know it, that rock is in the rearview. Brilliant.

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4x4 Systems

The Bronco also does a remarkable job staying composed going up and down hills at steep angles thanks in part to its excellent 4x4 systems. There are two to choose from.

The base features a two-speed electronic transfer case controlled by using a dial. The optional two-speed unit has a shorter 3.06:1 low range along with an automatic mode that changes between 2H and 4H. All Broncos come standard with an independent front suspension, solid rear axle, and coil-over shocks at the rear.

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Baja Mode

Reaching flat but still rocky ground, we switched into Baja mode for some 80-mph desert running. Again, not once did the big Bronco indicate it couldn't handle things. It owns the terrain. This was also the perfect opportunity to look around at the stunning Nevada landscape.

The only thing nagging us was the seating position, which wasn't the easiest to find for vertically challenged individuals like this guy. We would like to see the driver's seat go a smidge higher so that everyone can fully see over the hood.

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Your Grand Adventure Awaits

Towards the final stretch of the three-hour or so Off-Roadeo course, we plowed through deep puddles leftover from the previous day's rainstorm. The 35-inch mud-terrain tires owned those puddles and the goal was simple: get the Broncos as muddy as possible.

We'll be honest: the Ford Bronco isn't for everyone. While it drives beautifully on smooth highways, it's truly at home in the trails dodging the worst nature throws at it. The base two-door begins at a very reasonable $29,300 and ranges to around $60k for a fully-loaded four-door Wildtrak. In between, there's a Bronco spec for every off-road enthusiast. It's the ultimate Tonka toy for grown-ups.

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