The 2021 Ford Bronco made its debut yesterday night looking every bit like the Jeep Wrangler’s worst nightmare, with a choice of two engines, both EcoBoost turbos, and in two- and four-door versions.
The Bronco Two-Door, which is expected to sell in far fewer numbers, is available only with a hardtop. However, there is still a choice. The standard roof has three removable sections: two over the front occupants that can be safely stored in the trunk and a large rear section that’ll have to stay behind. The premium painted option gains a fourth section, a removable panel that spans the rear seats and cargo area. It’s also big to fit in the cargo area.
The Bronco Four-Door comes standard with a cloth soft top, but you don’t have to choose between it and the optional four-section hardtop — owners can keep both. It should also be noted that there is no cross brace between the B pillars as in the Wrangler (it’s behind the back seat instead), allowing for an uninterrupted view of the heavens with the roof panels removed.
There’s a built-in device rack, so owners can easily attach a phone, camera, or GPS unit without suction-cupping it to the windshield. There’s also a 12-volt power source up there, for cable management purposes. Big grab handles on the center consoles and the ends of the dash give both passenger and driver something to hang onto.
The new Bronco offers best-in-class ground clearance, at 11.6 inches (294 mm), and best-in-class water fording capability, at 33.5 inches (851 mm). The maximum breakover angle is 29 degrees with the departure angle at 37.2 degrees. You’ll also be able to order one with 35-inch tires straight from the factory for the first time in the segment, which is something you must opt for if you want the aforementioned figures.
The 2021 Ford Bronco will become available with two EcoBoost engines: a base 2.3-liter four-cylinder with an expected 270 HP and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm) of torque and a 2.7-liter V6 with 310 HP and 400 lb-ft (542 Nm) of torque.
Transmission options will include a new seven-speed manual featuring a crawler gear as standard only on four-cylinder models and a 10-speed automatic. Customers will also get to choose between two 4×4 systems; the base one features a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case while the optional advanced system comes with a two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an automatic on-demand 4H engagement.
If you mean serious off-road business and want the best-in-class crawler-gear ratio of 94.75:1, then you have to opt for the manual four-cylinder Bronco and the advanced 4×4 system.
Both the 2-door and 4-door Bronco models are traditional body-on-frame SUVs, using a fully-boxed, high-strength steel chassis. This enables the new Bronco to also offer best-in-class suspension travel, with 17 percent more travel front and rear “than its closest competitor”.
At the front, we get a fully independent suspension with a Dana AdvanTEK differential for better control and comfort while at the rear we get a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid-axle design with coil springs and five locating links for strength and off-road control. Both axles can be optioned with Spicer Performa-TRAK locking e-diffs. Speaking of options, the new Ford Bronco will also be able to be fitted with a set of long-travel, position-sensitive Bilstein dampers with end-stop valves and a segment-exclusive optional semi-active hydraulic stabilizer bar than can be disconnected for maximum articulation.
Aside from being probably the best name for a group of equipment in the whole of automotive history, the Sasquatch pack is available on every Bronco trim and adds a host of off-road features from 35-inch tires on 17-inch beadlock wheels to an upgraded off-road suspension and front and rear locking differentials.
The Bronco isn’t merely some brute instrument, though. It’s available with a 12.0-inch touchscreen running Ford’s latest infotainment system, Sync 4, complete with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a host of apps that will help Bronco owners get outdoors. That includes over 1,000 pre-loaded trail maps and a trail tracking system, so drivers can monitor and share their progress. It’s almost like off-road social media.
The exterior of the two- and four-door Bronco adheres very closely to the design introduced way back in 1966. This is not a bad thing. After years of the only capable, boxy SUVs being the familiar Jeep Wrangler and the rare Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, the Bronco’s clean design is a breath of fresh air. But it’s also brutal, full of hard edges, severe angles, and free of unnecessary flourishes.
At the rear of the truck (yes, you can definitely refer to the Bronco as a truck), the tailgate and spare-tire carrier function the same way they do on a Wrangler, with the tailgate hinged on the passenger side and serving as the mount for the spare tire and the center high-mounted brake light. But Ford upped the Bronco’s tailgating game with a slide-out tailgate that you sit on or use to rifle through your gear ahead of all the extreme outdoorsy activities you’re no doubt doing with your wicked new SUV.