2021 Ford Bronco
Ford invited us to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to test the Ford Bronco. Not to be confused with its little brother, the Bronco Sport that we tested recently. We got to play off-road in the dirt, as well as driving it on asphalt. We can’t hide the fact that the Bronco competes directly with the Jeep Wrangler.
The Bronco name is not a new nameplate for Ford; the first generation was released in 1966 and has had quite the heritage since then; some received more media attention than others. In 1996 the 5th generation was unfortunately discontinued as clients were looking for a bigger SUV, and the negative press after a famous police chase did not help either.
This 6th generation comes after a 25-year break, and the stars might have aligned perfectly as more & more people are looking for fun, versatile vehicles that can practically go anywhere. Hence, customization was essential. Most of the panels are removable, even the side ones, with tools that come with the Bronco. Yes, you can also remove the top and get an open roof experience without any obstruction.
The Ford Bronco provides 2 different powertrains with a 2.3L EcoBoost inline-4 producing an impressive 300hp and 325 lb-ft of torque with premium gas; the number drops slightly to 275hp and 315 lb-ft with regular gas. The 2.3L engine comes with a Getrag 7-speed manual gearbox or an automatic 10-speed; in reality, the 7-speed manual is a six-speed with an extra crawler gear marked as C on the shift knob. The manual gearbox will only be available with the 2.3L; the optional 2.7L EcoBoost V6 comes standard with the 10-speed automatic. This engine will produce 330hp and a whooping 415 lb-ft of torque with premium gas and only a slight decrease with regular gas to 315hp and 410 lb-ft of torque.
We got to play around with the 2.7L EcoBoost 10-speed automatic during our test; we would have liked the manual during our off-road course. The automatic democratized the experience, making it less about skill and more about the experience and pleasure of being outdoors. If we compare the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 to the Jeep offering, the Bronco engine puts its power down more convincingly and easier to modulate up steep inclines. The lockable transfer cases are easy to operate with one of the Hero switches; they can either lock the rear or the front. However, its party tricks do not end here; you can lock up one of the rear tires to sharply turn around tight corners. And yes, we did a 360-degree donut with it using the Trail Turn Assist in the middle of the forest.
The independent front suspension gives the vehicle a comfortable experience on the road at high speeds. It makes it very capable off-road during the obstacle courses instead of knocking our heads on the windows. The suspension did most of the work to give us a sense of refinement. At the end of our off-road course, we were supposed to splash in water; however, the weather and others before us left us with a massive puddle of mud. While splashing water is a lot of fun, getting dirty in the mud is another level of enjoyment. Seeing how capable it was and how deep the Bronco can get in and get itself out is spectacular.
Infotainment wise the Bronco comes standard with the Sync 4 system; we were so busy testing the vehicle off-road that we did not get a chance to try the sound system to its fullest during the short time we had the vehicle. We will make sure to review this once we get it for a longer period. The instrument cluster is also digital and will be very useful while going off-road. It will directly show where the power is put down, giving you a better tool while off-roading. Talking about off-roading, the large infotainment screen in conjunction with the front camera almost makes it too easy while off-roading. It takes away the guessing game when avoiding large obstacles.
Now for the family, two doors (4-seater) might still be practical, as the seat moves out without much hassle. Surprisingly, it was not too difficult to get in and out of the vehicle. And those rear seats could also fit two adults. You can remove the doors of the 2-door version; however, you cannot store them in the trunk. If you want the flexibility to remove the doors and transport them, you will need the 4-door (5-seater) as its doors are not as long and will fit in the trunk. While we did not have any car seats with us, inspecting the rear latches gave us a good idea of installing them. The latches are placed underneath the seats; as you might know by now, we do not necessarily like this setup, resulting in a more difficult connection.
Finally, it is refreshing to see a true competitor to the Jeep Wrangler. Jeep has been sitting on a comfortable pedestal for years, only making slight enhancements on its vehicles. And, in our opinion, Jeep certainly felt like it needed to enhance its vehicle by introducing a more powerful engine to rival the more powerful EcoBoost variant. This rivalry will undoubtedly make things more interesting in this segment as competition will only improve the offering. For now, Jeep, you better watch your back as this thing is a wild horse!