The Bronco's standard ten-speed can't handle a serious engine upgrade, but there's a solution.
It's pretty tricky to make clutches sound sexy but stick with us because this is important if you're a Ford Bronco owner.
Like the Jeep Wrangler, we think of the Ford Bronco as a blank canvas. It's an interesting 4x4, but there is room for improvement, as proven by this year's SEMA show. The likelihood of a Bronco being modified by its owner is exceptionally high. One owner even removed Ford's modern suspension and replaced it with live axles front and rear.
One of the most common upgrades is a simple ECU tune for the 2.7-liter turbocharged V6. It produces a pragmatic 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque as standard. A simple ECU tune can easily take it up to 364 hp and 500 lb-ft.
This is concerning because the 10R60 ten-speed automatic transmission is only rated for 443 lb-ft of torque. As standard, Ford didn't provide much leeway, and that automatic will take severe strain if you bump the torque to well above what the tranny can handle.
That's why Raybestos Powertrain developed new clutch packs specifically for the Bronco, knowing what owners will likely do to their cars. There are two options: GPZ friction clutch plates or steel plates.
Raybestos claims its GPZ friction material offers a significant upgrade over the OEM part, though it doesn't provide a specific figure. The GPZ is said to withstand high stress, repeated cycling, and high temperatures. The steel clutches offer a greater apply area and are more resistant to friction.
That sounds perfect for what most Broncos will be subjected to.
The 10R transmission range is readily available in the US, used in Ford and Chevrolet products. A simple fix would have been to fit the slightly more robust 10R80 from the Ranger, but it was likely a cost-cutting exercise.
The most potent version of this transmission can handle just over 1,000 lb-ft of torque, but that much torque in a high-riding off-roader sounds like a bad idea.
Ford's upcoming Bronco Raptor will likely use the same transmission as the standard Bronco. We know it has a turbocharged V6, but it's not clear whether it's the 400 hp/415 lb-ft unit used in the Explorer ST or the more powerful 3.5-liter as used in the F-150 Raptor. Since that powertrain produces 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, we're betting it will be the lower output motor that still falls within the margin of the 10R60 transmission.
Also, Ford likely won't want another off-roader close to its halo off-road performance car.