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Ford Bronco vs Land Rover Defender 110 S - How The Bronco Stacks Up Against a Well-Heeled Competitor

Ford Bronco vs Land Rover Defender 110 S - How The Bronco Stacks Up Against a Well-Heeled Competitor

Just a little while back, we took a look at how the soon to arrive Ford Bronco will fare in a head to head comparison with its more asphalt-centric Ford stablemate, the Expedition. We’ve also done a similar comparison with the Bronco’s long time competitor, the Chevy Blazer which, of course, is no longer much of an off-road threat now that it has been transformed into a tame crossover SUV.

This time around, we’ll set our sights on the Land Rover Defender S in its 110, 4-door form. To make this comparison more meaningful to anyone sincerely weighing the merits of the Bronco against those of its decidedly more expensive rival from across the Atlantic, we’ll stick with the 4-door Bronco for this comparison.

Nowadays, we tend to view any Land Rover model as a sort status symbol that lets fellow motorists know that whomever might be behind the wheel is “doing just fine for themselves.” But to be fair, the Land Rover brand really does have a strong history. The first of its models rolled out in 1948 — some 17 years before the first Ford Bronco made its debut. And, by the time Ford’s rollout did happen, its English rival had already made a pretty solid name for itself. So, even though the Land Rover brand isn’t one that’s closely associated with military heritage or a particularly rugged work history, it’s still a legitimate rival and, as we’ll see, its capabilities are likely more impressive than you’d expect.

Because of the Defender’s more posh positioning (and the price tag that comes with it), one of the key questions here is just how well the new Ford Bronco will fare when compared to a markedly more costly opponent — pretty much the automotive equivalent of determining whether or not it will “punch above its weight.”

About the Cost Factor

At face value — and using the price ranges set forth by their respective manufacturers — the cost differential between the 4-door Bronco and the Defender 110S might not seem all that substantial. Ford starts the MSRP range for its eagerly-anticipated off-roader in 4-door configuration at around $34,000 before any additional costs are figured in and a well-equipped Bronco with all the available trappings, including the sought-after Sasquatch package, will likely push that number over the $60,000 mark, even without the dealer markups that now seem pretty much unavoidable with the demand that surrounds the Bronco.

By contrast, Land Rover gets the party started with about a $53,000 price tag for its Defender 110, and it goes up from there. Sharply. Even a brief exploration of the model’s available inventory will show prices in the mid- $80,000s with bells and whistles added, so it’s fair to say that the Bronco will be decidedly easier on the pocketbook, even when it’s fully decked out. So while overall value isn’t a term commonly associated with today’s SUV niche, from all appearances the Bronco takes a noticeable lead in this category.

Regardless, assuming we’re moving ahead with price point taken out of the equation, let’s see how things stack up between the Ford Bronco and the Land Rover Defender 110.

The View from Outside

Let’s face it — curb appeal matters. We may tell ourselves that our car’s looks are secondary to a variety of other factors, but we want our ride to be the one onlookers take a second glance at before nodding approvingly.

Both of these cars have that appeal, though in somewhat different respects. With its bold, retro-futuristic styling, dramatic contours and rugged appearance, the Bronco is the equivalent of a modern-day muscle car morphed into an SUV. The Defender, on the other hand, takes a more sedate, civilized approach, with its less pronounced outer wheelhouses and more closed-off front grille. As we’ll see though, it’s decidedly more capable than it may look. With an overall length of just over 189” vs. about 187” for the Defender in its 4-door, 110 S form, the two SUVs are comparable as far as their front and rear overhangs are concerned, with the Bronco riding on a 116” wheelbase and the Defender coming in at 119”. The Defender’s 67” track is a little wider than the Bronco’s but it’s a markedly taller vehicle, so if anything, it appears a little narrower at first glance.

Let’s Talk About Power

The Defender’s heftier price tag would lead you to believe that it comes off the assembly line with more power than the Bronco already on board, and to a certain extent, that would be correct, although the performance advantage that extra power yields is likely less than expected.

With engine options that include a 2.3 liter Ecoboost inline 4 cylinder that yields 270 horsepower and a 2.7 twin turbo that yields 310, the Bronco gives up some ground to the Defender’s 2.0 liter inline 4 and its 296 horses, as well as its top tier option, which is an inline 6 MHEV (mild hybrid electric vehicle) packing an impressive 395 horsepower. But, as we know, torque is a prize commodity in off-road vehicles and the outlook between the two SUVs changes noticeably in this regard, with the Bronco options totaling 310 lb.-ft. and 400 lb.-ft. respectively, compared with the Defender’s 295 and 406.

Moreover, the Defender’s 85 horsepower advantage at the top tier likely won’t yield all that much of an acceleration advantage — equipped in this manner, the 110 will log a 0-60 time of 5.8. The Bronco’s performance figures have yet to be released, but they’re expected to include a time of around 6 seconds using the same measure. This is likely because of two factors — the Defender’s curb weight is substantially more than that of the Bronco, while the latter’s 10-speed transmission brings 2 extra gears not found on the Defender, allowing the Ford to make better use of its output.

The Land Rover does offer a substantial advantage in terms of tow capacity, as it’s literally rated for more than twice that of the Bronco.

Going Off-Road

In those measures that determine just how well a vehicle will fare once it’s off the asphalt, our comparison yields some interesting results. There are also some clear conclusions to be drawn. First, while the Land Rover’s civilized aura may make it seem like a somewhat unlikely off-roader — the automotive equivalent of an explorer traversing a jungle while decked out in a tuxedo — it’s surprisingly capable in this regard. Second, even if you factor in its lower price point only slightly, the Bronco 4-door does very well in a head to head comparison.

In terms of approach angle, which measures a vehicle’s ability to transition from a flat surface to a marked incline without scraping its front end, the Bronco’s 43.2 reading bests the Defender by a full 5 degrees. The Defender does score better on its breakover angle, which measures just how dramatic a road-bound incline and decline a vehicle can navigate without bottoming out, and also comes out on top where departure angle is concerned, so it can handle descending down a more dramatic incline without scraping in back.

As far as the ability to traverse a stream, the two SUVs are pretty much dead even — unless the Defender is equipped with its high-end air suspension — with both of them capable of fording an approximately 33” deep body of water.

Inside the Doors

As we’ve noted on a couple of occasions, when a car costs as much as a Ford Bronco, despite its undeniable value, that car is likely going to be your primary ride, so it will have to get things done nicely as far as performing as a weekday commuter vehicle. Ratchet that price tag up to what a Defender will set you back and this versatility becomes even more essential.

As we’ve already seen, the 4-door Bronco gives up some ground in interior roominess to its Ford teammate, the Expedition, and it also does so where the Defender is concerned. This difference is minimal in some areas, non-existent in others, and the Bronco definitely features interior dimensions that make it a viable choice, even when weekday duties are prioritized. The Bronco’s headroom is in a virtual dead heat vs. that of the Defender, measuring 40.8” up front and 40.1” in back, compared to the Defender’s 41” and 40”. The Bronco will also afford taller drivers — as well as passengers riding shotgun — plenty of space to stretch their legs up front, as it enjoys a 4-inch advantage over the Defender in this regard. In back, these positions are reversed, with the Defender coming out on top, which it also does as far as shoulder room all the way around.

The Takeaways

There are a few of them, actually. Probably most notable is that our comparison yields more evidence that the Ford Bronco makes a strong showing even when going head-to-head with an SUV that costs substantially more. Given the entire Land Rover line’s positioning as ultra-comfortable, well appointed vehicles, it’s not surprising that the Defender carries with it a set of spacious interior dimensions.

And yet the Bronco still confirms its viability as a strong all-around option for buyers who know at the outset that they won’t be spending all their time off-roading. As a side note, you do have to give props to the Defender in terms of its abilities — it’s still seen by many as a status symbol, but it does deliver once you’re off the asphalt, albeit while costing quite a bit.

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