The 2021 Bronco Base - Less Is More Or Just Enough?
Ever since Ford announced the Bronco's return, and then revealed the model's featured trim levels, equipment, and packages, the market has shown a strong, STRONG preference for the more upscale models.
Out of all seven trim levels that Ford envisioned for the new 2021 Bronco, the upper echelon models, like Badlands or First Edition, received by far the most hype in their two and four-door form. In fact, buyer interest proved to be so significant that Ford decided to produce twice as many First Edition Broncos as they had initially planned. (Ford increased the cap from 3,500 to 7,000 copies, and yes, they are STILL all sold out.)
We can understand this fascination with the most expensive, best-equipped, and most exclusive new Broncos. They're truly top-of-the-line vehicles. with the best features, most power, and the Sasquatch package as standard equipment (at least in the Bronco First Edition). These models are undeniably the most capable, most comfortable, and most prestigious.
However, for those who can't afford a $60,000 price tag for their Bronco, Ford is offering a cheaper alternative. That being the case, today, we'll take a look at Bronco Base -- the most affordable two-door version, with an MSRP of $28,500.
So, what exactly do you get when you don't tick any boxes to stay away from costly options, and is this model sufficient for the average user?
Base Bronco Body
For a little over $28k, you'll get the two-door 2021 Bronco with removable doors and a hardtop. The hardtop is standard on the two-door, and the soft top is optional. The four-door version is significantly more expensive -- almost $5000 more than Base Bronco's price, so let's stick with the two-door model in this example.
As you'd expect, in Base trim, there are no fancy paint options, but you do get a choice among seven colors, with black or white being the default offerings.
Of course, the standard bumper is included in the package, with the heavy-duty version being optional, and there are no unique fender flares or side steps offered.
The Base Bronco comes with 16-inch steel wheels wrapped in 255/70 R16 all-season tires. Yes, 17-inch alloy wheels with much more aggressive all-terrain rubber are available and an extra cost option. The Base Bronco is clearly distinguishable from its more upscale kin by its wheels and lack of any exterior add-ons.
Base Bronco Drive Train
The standard engine in the 2021 Bronco is a 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder unit, good for 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Although the official performance figures are not out yet, we can expect a 0 to 60 mph time of around 8 seconds, which is pretty decent, considering that this is not a performance SUV.
A more exciting drivetrain aspect is the fact that Bronco Base comes with Ford's unique 7-speed manual transmission. This manual is of the "6+1" variety, meaning it has six regular gears and one super-low gear for crawling. Whether you're in high or low range, you can shift into "7th" (dogleg position on the shift pattern) and have an 11:1 gear ratio, which is ideal for pulling heavy trailers uphill, rock crawling, or getting out of the muddy ditch.
Another definite positive is the fact that Bronco comes with a well-engineered and very capable 4x4 system as standard - something Ford never allowed to be put in question, although some initial reports claimed that the Base Bronco would be rear-wheel-drive only.
The 4x4 drive train comes with part-time selectable engagement, four driving modes (three modes and one neutral), and a rear end ratio of 4.46:1. Locking differentials are available as a (rather expensive) option, as is the much-publicized Sasquatch package.
Base Bronco Interior
The interior is dominated by cloth seats, rubber floor mats, and an 8-inch infotainment system with Sync4 technology. Yes, it's a generation old, but remains a very usable unit, with lots of functionality.
There's a manual tilt steering column, a multifunctional steering wheel, an audio system with six speakers, and split rear seats, which you can fold down to increase your luggage capacity.
Interestingly, Ford is also offering Co-Pilot360™ Technology, which is a significant safety feature, as well as G.O.A.T. driving modes.
Sure, the Base Bronco interior lacks some upscale features, leather upholstery, a more advanced infotainment system, and so on, but do you really need all that in your off-road vehicle? Although modest, the interior of the Base Bronco is both sufficient and practical. You'll that you need and nothing that you don't.
Base Bronco Verdict
In most cases, base models are often spartan, bare-bones versions which lack even the basic features. However, this is not the case with the Bronco Base.
Although equipped with steel wheels and relatively few convenience options, it nevertheless has everything you really need. With a capable 4x4 drive train and an innovative and very interesting 7-speed manual transmission with its rock-crawling feature, the Base Bronco could be a very viable choice for truly dedicated enthusiasts, since it is the lightest chassis offered. But, even if you aren't a hard-core off-road fanatic, the Base model will be able to perform most off-road tasks, everyday duties perfectly, and also be an occasional tow vehicle.
However, there is one option that all Base Bronco's buyers would want to consider when ordering - the more aggressive all-terrain 35-inch tires. The Bronco's drive train is plenty capable even with standard rubber, but equipped with the proper off-road tire, the Bronco will really shine and will show all that it's got. Fortunately, the upgraded tires aren't really that expensive and can easily be ordered from the dealer, should you forget to put them on your list while ordering from the factory.