Jeep's biggest nightmare is real.
Originally set to be revealed last week (before Ford realized who's birthday it coincided with), the Bronco has finally returned after a 25-year hiatus. The 2021 Ford Bronco has been the most anticipated automotive reveal of 2020 with endless spy shots, rumors, and leaks.
Now, we can finally put all of that speculation to rest and admire what Ford has done to build the ultimate Wrangler fighter. This time around, the Bronco isn't just a single model, but a new family of models that also includes a less extreme Bronco Sport variant based on the Escape. Sitting atop the range is the Bronco two-door and four-door models, which fully live up to the hype.
The original Bronco had an iconic design and even with modern safety regulations, Ford made sure to stay true to this model's lineage. Ford designed the new Bronco by digitally scanning a first-generation model to more accurately capture its body lines for this modern interpretation. It features flat, no-nonsense surfaces and square proportions with a wide stance accented by flared fenders with a quick-release function.
"We created the Bronco family to elevate every aspect of off-road adventure and equipped them with class-leading chassis hardware and exclusive technologies to raise the bar in the rugged 4x4 segment and take people further into the wild," said Jim Farley, Ford's COO. "They're built with the toughness of an F-Series truck and performance spirit of Mustang - and come wrapped in one of the most stunning and functional off-road designs that's true to the original Bronco design DNA."
Like the Wrangler, the Bronco offers an open-air driving experience with a removable three-section roof on two-door models or a four-section roof on four-doors models. Ford says the three-door model even has space to stow its front roof panels in the vehicle. A cloth top comes standard on four-door models or customers can opt for a hardtop (or both). The doors can also be removed and stored in the vehicle. And unlike the Wrangler, cowl-mounted side mirrors ensure you don't lose visibility with the doors removed.
The new Bronco rides on a fully boxed, high-strength steel chassis with an independent front suspension that should make it more road-friendly than the Wrangler while still retaining off-road performance. At the rear, a solid axle with coilover springs and five locating links will provide plenty of off-road capability. Ford will offer an available disconnection semi-active hydraulic stabilizer bar, which enables maximum wheel articulation and increased ramp angle index for grueling off-road angles.
Ford has designed the Bronco with off-roading in mind and helping it achieve its dirt-conquering capability are two turbocharged EcoBoost engines. The base engine is a 2.3-liter four-cylinder producing 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft torque. Most Bronco customers will opt for the 10-speed automatic but the four-cylinder is available with a seven-speed manual with a low-speed crawler-gear ratio of 94.75:1. Larger V6 models produce 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque and can only be paired with the automatic.
The Bronco debuts with Ford's latest Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. (Go Over Any Terrain) Modes. These include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl. Customers can select from a base or advanced 4x4 system, the former of which offers a two-speed electronic transfer case. The Advanced 4x4 system adds a two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode for on-demand engagement for 2H and 4H.
Power is sent out to a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid rear axle and Dana AdvanTEK independent front differential with available Spicer Performa-TraK electronic locking differentials. Exposed tow hooks and steel bumpers with an available integrated winch mount should come in handy should you ever get stuck.
Tough off-road trails should be a cinch with the Bronco's Trail Toolbox. This suite of off-road functions includes Trail Control (low-speed off-road cruise control), Trail Turn Assist (torque vectoring to reduce the turning circle), and Trail One-Pedal Drive (slow rock-crawling mode). The new Bronco also touts best-in-class 11.6-inch ground clearance, maximum 29-degree break-over angle, 37.2-degree departure angle, and water fording capability of up to 33.5 inches. Ford will even offer 35-inch tires from the factory as part of a Sasquatch Package (because the Sasquatch has big feet).
Inside, the Bronco remains comfortably modern while keeping its rugged theme. All of the interior surfaces are wipable and some models include rubberized floors with integrated drains and marine-grade vinyl seats. The shifter and G.O.A.T. Modes controller are both located conveniently in the center console with available grab handles for the instrument panel and center console and MOLLE hooks on the seatbacks.
An available 12-inch Sync 4 touchscreen handles infotainment duties but the modular dash also includes built-in mounting points with 12-volt power for cameras, navigation units, phones, or other devices. Ford has even added off-road navigation with more than 1,000 curated trail maps across the United States.
Just like the Wrangler, the Bronco will be available with several different trim levels depending on how an owner plans to modify their vehicle. A base, no-frills model is available as a blank canvas for owners who wish to go wild on the aftermarket while the Big Bend, Black Diamond, and Outer Banks models add more creature comforts. The Wildtrak and Badlands offer the most off-road capability and for the 2021 model year, a limited-production First Edition will be offered.
From these seven trim levels, customers can also select from four content packages, several available options, 11 colors, and more than 200 dealer-installed accessories. Pricing for the two-door Bronco starts at just $29,995 and includes a $1,495 destination and delivery fee. More pricing information will be available sooner to launch. Reservations are now open for just $100.