Go anywhere, anytime.
After a 25-year market absence, the legendary Ford Bronco has made its triumphant return for 2021. But unlike the original, there's now a four-door version available alongside the traditional two-door bodystyle. Not only is the 2021 Bronco a suitable daily driver, but it can tackle just about any off-road situation and Ford has gone to great lengths to ensure this with tons of optional equipment. In fact, there are more than 200 factory-backed aftermarket accessories. And yes, the Jeep Wrangler is the Bronco's primary target.
Combined with a quasi-retro exterior, a fully modern interior, and removable doors and roof, the Bronco represents a new beginning of off-roading for Ford. Its affordable base price makes it accessible to millions of anxious buyers, many of whom have been waiting years to see this day. But the big question remains: will the new Bronco put a significant dent into Wrangler sales? Time will tell but what's certain is that the Wrangler has never faced a more serious rival.
Ford certainly stayed true to the old Bronco's styling but added plenty of modern touches. Notice the flat, no-nonsense surfaces with clear-cut edges and square proportions. It also features a wide stance enhanced by flared fenders with a quick-release attachment to make customization easier. Ford's Blue Oval is absent on the front grille. Instead, the 'Bronco' name is spelled out.
The Bronco can be had in two- and four-door configurations and best-in-class 11.6-inch ground clearance. A set of 35-inch tires are available.
The two-door has a removable three-section roof while four-door models have a four-section roof. A cloth roof is standard on four-door versions and a hardtop is available for both. The frameless doors can be removed and stored inside along with the roof. The Bronco even has a set of cool cowl-mounted side mirrors that keep side-view visibility when the doors are removed. All hardtops feature rear quarter windows that can be removed in three steps.
To both emphasize its off-road focus and because they just look cool, there are trail sights on the front fenders that also work as tie-downs for stuff stacked on the roof. In fact, every Bronco has a 150-pound capacity for roof-mounted objects like canoes.
The Bronco's interior has a seriously rugged theme going on, but it also has every necessary modern piece of technology. Every interior surface can be wiped down and rubberized floors with integrated drains and marine-grade vinyl seats are available in some trims. Both the shift lever and G.O.A.T. Modes controller are located in the center console. Grab handles for the center console and instrument panel are optional, as are MOLLE hooks mounted in the seatbacks.
Ford says the multifunction LCD instrument panel is inspired by the first-generation Bronco's, with clear and concise gauges and controls.
There's an optional 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Sync4 capable over over-the-air updates, but the modular instrument panel and center console offers built-in mounting points with 12-volt power for accessories like cameras, navigation units, and smartphones. Ford also offers through its dedicated performance app off-road navigation with over 1,000 curated trail maps from across the country.
The Bronco was designed and engineered for off-roading and Ford has given it the appropriate power. A 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque is standard, while the optional engine is a 2.7-liter turbo V6 with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft. A 10-speed automatic is available and four-pot customers can also get a seven-speed manual with a low-range crawler-gear ratio of 94.75:1. In other words, it's ideal for rock crawling.
An advanced 4x4 system is optional for both bodystyles complete with a two-speed electromechanical transfer case that boasts an auto mode for on-demand engagement for either 2H or 4H. The base 4x4 system has a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case.
Ford has updated its Terrain Management System with numerous G.O.A.T. (Go Over Any Terrain) Modes, including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl.
Power goes to a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid rear axle and Dana AdvanTEK independent front differential with optional electronic locking differentials. There are even exposed tow hooks and steel bumpers with an optional integrated winch mount that could come in handy. A Bronco Trail Toolbox suite of off-road functions includes Trail Control, Trail Turn Assist, and Trail One-Pedal Drive.
The Ford Bronco will be available in several unique trim levels including the base model and more premium-focused Big Bend, Black Diamond, and Outer Banks. Outdoor enthusiasts will be drawn to the Wildtrak and Badlands trims. For 2021, a First Edition will be available, but it's already sold out.
Within these trims, buyers select from four content packages, several available options, 11 color choices, and over 200 dealer-installed accessories.
Sales are already underway as Ford is now accepting $100 refundable reservations. The base Bronco begins at just $29,995 including destination and delivery. Full pricing will be announced closer to the so-far unannounced launch date. Production will take place at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant
The competition? That's an easy answer: the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Up until now, the Wrangler didn't have any direct competitor. Ford has clearly done its homework by finding the Wrangler's few flaws and fixing them for the Bronco. It's also made sure the Bronco meets or beats its Jeep rival in nearly every major category. Let the off-road SUV battle commence.