Why did designers back down?
Ford designers and engineers had one major target in mind when designing the all-new 2021 Bronco: the Jeep Wrangler. For years, Jeep has dominated the off-road SUV segment with its retro-inspired Wrangler, but the Ford Bronco aims to shake things up. Not only did Ford's engineering team need to ensure maximum off-roading capabilities, but the Bronco itself had to act and look the part. Compare the two side-by-side and there are many similarities, such as removable doors and roofs. But there is one feature Ford opted against, a folding windshield. Why?
Speaking to Ford Authority, Bronco chief designer Paul Wraith stated early designs did indeed have one but there were issues.
"[A folding windshield] brings with it some problems," he explained. "It does provide the user with a fairly rare event, since you start getting into things like flat windshields, which is a compromised construction around pillars." This complicated things to a point where designers decided it simply wasn't worth the time and effort, but they still went to great lengths to provide drivers and passengers with plenty of wind in your face opportunities.
"So what we actually really wanted to do is to provide a very open-air feel, thin out the pillars as much as we could, which is why we have the airbags in the sport tubes," Wraith said. "That provided people a very safe envelope for people to sit within. So when you look at tradeoffs, we think we made the right one - but it's very safe, very open, and a good experience - and I think we made the right tradeoff."
Chances are, future Bronco owners won't care that their windshields can't fold flat because the SUV does so many other things right. One example is four-door models that allow owners to easily store the doors in the cargo section behind the rear seats. These doors are also lightweight and easy to move around, a contrast to the Wrangler's heavier units.
Could Ford offer a folding windshield at a later date? Possibly, but highly unlikely given there'd be very little benefit sales-wise.