How Will The New Ford Bronco Fare in Everyday Life? Let’s Take a Look.
After literal decades of relative quiet, things have gotten exciting again in the newly reinvigorated Rugged SUV automotive category. Ford fired the first salvo in early 2017, when it announced it would be bringing the Bronco back after what would turn out to be a 25-year hiatus, while Jeep ratcheted the competition up a notch when it redesigned its Wrangler a few years back, despite the model having enjoyed virtually unchallenged supremacy in the category for a long, long time.
A Familiar Nameplate Rejoins the Ranks
From the time the Bronco’s future return to action was first confirmed, off-road SUV fans have rightfully wondered just how well the new Bronco would fare in the areas that matter most to car buyers — not just in comparison to its rival and not just in terms of its ability to navigate rugged terrain, but as far as a handful of common standards by which we’ve come to assess a car’s desirability.
As exciting as they may be, those off-roading excursions eventually come to an end and are punctuated by a return to the real world. So as much as we prize agility when detouring from the asphalt, style has always been part of a winning automotive formula. Through the decades, we’ve always put a high premium on curb appeal — we want people to check out our rides, no matter whether we’re cruising down the freeway or parked in a lot.
In previous posts, we’ve looked at the Ford Bronco design process and just what factors went into successfully resuscitating the brand after such a long dormancy. But when executed on, would those factors make for a winning end result? By all indications, that would be a resounding “yes”.
From the time Ford unveiled both the 2-door and 4-door Broncos in July of last year, the model has received consistently stellar responses for its aesthetics. Motor Trend magazine would go on to say that the Bronco’s design was “fresh, futuristic and fun” and that it “had the goods to beat the Wrangler”, which certainly had to be music to Ford’s proverbial ears.
Frank Stephenson, a veteran automotive designer whom Motor Trend has called “one of the most influential automotive designers of our time” and whose upper echelon experience includes design work with BMW, Mini, Maserati, Fiat and even ultra-exotic McLaren, gave the new Bronco a strongly positive response in this video. Most of the responses to his critique were even more positive.
Your first impulse might be to feel that speed and acceleration aren’t really at the top of the list for likely SUV buyers — especially those seeking out a rugged SUV with bona fide off-road capabilities — but we’re way beyond the time when all that really mattered in this regard was for an SUV to be able to get out of its own way.
1979 Bronco dressed in Freewheelin' Package
Previous iterations of the Bronco included a first generation that became available with a 200hp V8 not long after the category-defying SUV was first released, followed by generations that were, to varying degrees, weighed down as far as power by increasingly stringent admission standards. As mean and capable as the Bronco looked in its second-generation form of the late ’70s, which saw the Bronco mounted on Ford’s F-100 truck chassis, it was no screamer on the boulevard, as none of its available engine options could hit the 160hp mark and its 0-60 time was in excess of 12 seconds. In 1996, when the last of its fifth generation rolled off the assembly line, the Bronco couldn’t break 10 seconds in stock form, even while propelled by the top tier engine option: a 351ci V8.
No such worries this time around. While the Bronco hasn’t been released to the automotive press to test drive just yet, we already know that its smaller sibling — the Bronco Sport — clocks in at just 6.5 seconds when in Badlands configuration and a modest, yet acceptable 8.6 when propelled by the tiny, 1.5 Liter 3-cylinder Outer Banks engine.
Estimates for the soon to arrive Bronco are even more exciting. When equipped with the available 2.7 liter, twin turbo 6 cylinder and the 310hp it offers, the 2021 Bronco is expected to come in at around 6 seconds. That would be a second and a half quicker than the Jeep Wrangler when equipped with its 285hp V6.
As far as torque is concerned, it’s no contest between these two standard bearers when they’re equipped this way — the Bronco’s 400lb-ft exceeds that of the Jeep’s 3.6 liter powerplant by a full 140lb-ft.
Throughout the history of their segment, most members of the SUV class were never configured to tow impressive amounts. But, should your plans call for an occasional journey to an off-roading destination that will see you bringing some toys along for the ride, you’re going to need at least a base capability in this area.
The Bronco will be able to handle about 3500lbs when equipped with a Class II tow package. Certainly not an earth-shattering amount — to put it into perspective, a Toyota Tundra pickup can handle almost three times that, but was purpose-built to do so. It’ll be enough to handle a trailer carrying an ATV, a pair of jet skis or even a small ski boat, though.
Even though it’s been designed first and foremost as an off-road-centric SUV, the Bronco will likely have to pull double-duty as both weekend fun machine and weekday commuter. Unless you’re pulling down some serious cash, its purchase price means it’s not going to be a second car for most households. That being the case, it’s only fair to be curious as to how roomy its interior will be. Will you be sacrificing comfort for its bold design and off-road capabilities? You’re almost certainly going to be spending more time on the asphalt than you will off it, so this is an important consideration.
You should be just fine in this regard, especially if you opt for the 4-door Bronco. Using its popular and respected Ford stablemate — the Explorer — for comparison, it looks like you’ll be able to ride in comfort, recognizing at the same time that few would opt to buy a Bronco based solely on its cabin space.
Up front, where the Explorer offers 59” of front hip room, the 4-door Bronco comes in at just 3” less, while offering even more legroom. Moving to the back, while Bronco’s 54.8” of rear hip room and 36.3” of rear legroom lags behind the Explorer by a few inches in each category, its dimensions should be enough to ensure that your passengers will have no complaints — even if they’re adults.
And if you’re going to be embarking on an adventure that includes stowing luggage or other items in back, you’ll be covered. The 4-door Bronco offers 35.6 cubic feet of space behind its rear seat and 77.6 cubic feet with the rear seat down — considerably more than its 4-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited rival.