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First test: The Ford Bronco is back to battle Jeep
June 28, 2021
By Gary Gastelu

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It’s on! Off road.

The 2021 Ford Bronco marks the first direct competition the Jeep Wrangler has faced in decades

Sure, there are plenty of 4x4 SUVs and pickups that can give the Wrangler a run for its money on the roughest roads and rock trails, but not many of them let you take off the top, let alone the doors.

Really, you need to go back to 1977 when the Wrangler was still the CJ and the first-generation Bronco was in its final year before morphing into a two-door F-series SUV. This time, the Bronco is ready to go head to head with the Wrangler on both its two-door and four-door turf.

The Bronco is only slightly larger than the Wrangler and features a similar body-on-frame construction. Its chassis is an evolution of the one under the current Ford Ranger, which it is built alongside at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant where previous Broncos were assembled up until 1996.

It seems kind of odd that it took so long to bring it back, considering that’s right when the SUV craze started to kick in. Now it’s in such a high gear that Ford has stopped making cars altogether, aside from the Mustang, which made the Bronco’s long-awaited return almost inevitable.

Ford isn’t tiptoeing back into the fray, either. The Bronco is launching with seven different trim levels at starting prices ranging from $29,995 to $60,800 with names like Badlands and Outer Banks that indicate the kind of customer each is optimized for. You can dig into the nitty gritty of them all at this link, but here are the general highlights:

The Bronco’s entry-level powertrain is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque -- when it's running on premium fuel -- and a 7-speed manual transmission. The seventh gear is actually an ultra-low crawler marked C that delivers a little extra grunt before you have to shift the standard part-time 4x4 transfer case into its low range, and a tremendous amount at a 94.75:1 crawl ratio after you do.

A 10-speed automatic is also available and a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 rated at 330 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque is either optional or included on every trim, but only with the automatic. Both engines can also drink regular, but lose few ponies in the process. An Advanced 4x4 system with a full-time all-wheel-drive setting can also be had in a few configurations.

Continues at link
 

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Bronco has the spec sheet to take the W...lets see how they hold up long term.
 

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I had a 2003 Wrangler with a 5M and the 4.0L straight 6. Loved it because it was still pretty basic and old school. Wranglers today are a different breed. And judging by the sales offer much wider appeal. Which is great for Jeep, but to me are less compelling. I like the Gladiator more but I don’t think they exactly nailed the look on that.

The Bronco is kind of refreshing and to me very attractive. Like not pretty exactly but a refreshing choice. When my Ranger lease is up in 16 months the Bronco with a manual will definitely get consideration. I’ve been happy with the Ford 2.3L turbo 4.
 

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I think some will be interested - there's been a lot of Bronco talk on GMI.

Credible effort on Ford's part, but not a tko against the Wrangler. Be interesting to see full comparisons.
They've already got well over 100,000 orders committed, I don't know how many they are going to be able to make a year, but once they get out there, more people will express interest.

And I'll go out on a limb and say a lot of buyers, potential buyers, could give a crap how it "stacks up" against a Wrangler, my neighbors wife has one, I think the most aggressive thing she does with it is drive around the lake with the top off.
(the Jeep, not her)
 

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You may be misinterpreting Ford's motive. I don't think they trying to BE Jeep. They're trying to BEAT Jeep.
Well, they could start by giving the Bronco a V8 and an E version and a solid front axle.. still the Bronco is excellent, but it’s not a Jeep.
 

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You may be misinterpreting Ford's motive. I don't think they trying to BE Jeep. They're trying to BEAT Jeep.
True. Making an off-roader that can keep up with stock Wranglers is one thing, but Ford also wanted to make this a better all-around off-roader. Better ride quality, more precise steering, and better standard safety equipment (it has curtain airbags).
 

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True. Making an off-roader that can keep up with stock Wranglers is one thing, but Ford also wanted to make this a better all-around off-roader. Better ride quality, more precise steering, and better standard safety equipment (it has curtain airbags).
They did make a very compelling product.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
They've already got well over 100,000 orders committed, I don't know how many they are going to be able to make a year, but once they get out there, more people will express interest.

And I'll go out on a limb and say a lot of buyers, potential buyers, could give a crap how it "stacks up" against a Wrangler, my neighbors wife has one, I think the most aggressive thing she does with it is drive around the lake with the top off.
(the Jeep, not her)
Some will, some won't - to me it is another rivalry and interesting to follow how they stack up. I will never buy either, though were I to get one, I'd get the Wrangler as I like the looks a lot better.

And yes, totally agree, most Wrangler's, just as I expect with the Bronco, will be on-road only vehicles. Just like all these other vehicles with huge capabilities that never get used - Corvette or S Class that never go over 90 mph, F Series that never does more than haul a garbage bag to the dump, etc.
 

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Some will, some won't - to me it is another rivalry and interesting to follow how they stack up. I will never buy either, though were I to get one, I'd get the Wrangler as I like the looks a lot better.

And yes, totally agree, most Wrangler's, just as I expect with the Bronco, will be on-road only vehicles. Just like all these other vehicles with huge capabilities that never get used - Corvette or S Class that never go over 90 mph, F Series that never does more than haul a garbage bag to the dump, etc.
There is a small show on youtube I stumbled across called Matts offroad recovery. They recover all sorts of offroad vehicles from offroad, from stock to 'what are you doing in Moab with your Nissan Sentra? to lifted ex army rigs.. and everything in between.
quite interesting look into American life and what marketing can do to the mind... The people one pity's most are the Raptor, Jeep, Hummer, 4 Runner, etc folks with off road goodies.. who were sold a bill of goods...

Soon or later, I am certain lifted Broncos will appear on the show and Lizzie will pull them off their holes...
 

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The Jeep has no competition. The solid front axle separates it from all others. The IFS under the Bronco and Colorado ZR2 will always limit them.
 

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The Jeep has no competition. The solid front axle separates it from all others. The IFS under the Bronco and Colorado ZR2 will always limit them.
There are many ways of skinning a cat. Some might say a Jeep is limited in desert running and a ZR2 , Bronco.. etc… can work well in both environments…

But GMC , Chevrolet are not in this conversation.. the Bronco is…
 

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The Jeep has no competition. The solid front axle separates it from all others. The IFS under the Bronco and Colorado ZR2 will always limit them.
Until it comes to HD Pick Ups, then Independent is Best! Just like Pushrods are better than OHC in most cases. RIGHT?

Look, Ford didn't Match Jeep, they Surpassed Jeep, (not by much). This has Jeep scrambling, squishing a 392 cu/in V8 in that is Heavy and maxes out at 99mph. A New Rubicon Extreme, to match the Bronco's 35" tire option, 4.88 Gears and Cresting ability, but only available on Unlimited Models.
 

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Until it comes to HD Pick Ups, then Independent is Best! Just like Pushrods are better than OHC in most cases. RIGHT?

Look, Ford didn't Match Jeep, they Surpassed Jeep, (not by much). This has Jeep scrambling, squishing a 392 cu/in V8 in that is Heavy and maxes out at 99mph. A New Rubicon Extreme, to match the Bronco's 35" tire option, 4.88 Gears and Cresting ability, but only available on Unlimited Models.
Jeep just needs to make lockers available in all trims and cut pricing.. Thats it.. no need to add tires and all the recertification expense that goes with it…
 

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Until it comes to HD Pick Ups, then Independent is Best! Just like Pushrods are better than OHC in most cases. RIGHT?

Look, Ford didn't Match Jeep, they Surpassed Jeep, (not by much). This has Jeep scrambling, squishing a 392 cu/in V8 in that is Heavy and maxes out at 99mph. A New Rubicon Extreme, to match the Bronco's 35" tire option, 4.88 Gears and Cresting ability, but only available on Unlimited Models.
Let's be clear the 392 doesn't "max out" at 99...it's electronically limited to 99 because it's tires aren't speed rated over 99 and it's still able to crack off a 12s 1/4


Granted that's a party trick, but lets not play word games to minimize the 392's capabilities
 

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The Jeep has no competition. The solid front axle separates it from all others. The IFS under the Bronco and Colorado ZR2 will always limit them.
True, I would still pick a Rubicon if I were going to Moab or doing lots of rock crawling due to the articulation of asolid front axle. However for Desert running or general trail running, I'd pick the Bronco where IFS would work better. Depends on what type of pie you like. Here in MN where its mud/ruts/stumps/snow/ice I'd probably pick the Bronco or the Gladiator Mojave(IFS) if I need more cargo room. Plus getting there is a heck of a lot more comfortable with IFS.

Outside of the diesel in the Jeep (and the 392 which is stupid expensive), I do like the Bronco's engines better. Both the 2.3T and 2.7TT are excellent. Its also cool that you can get the hardcore offroad package (Sasquatch) on any trim/configuration. I hate that Jeep limits it. I hate they still haven't put the 5.7L hemi in the Wrangler/Gladiator, that's just stupid. I'd strongly consider a Gladiator Mojave with the 5.7L if they made it - it'd e a hella fun truck.
 
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Around here I see a lot of shiny new 4dr Jeep Wranglers that clearly never go off-road. My guess is the new Bronco will take a nice bite out of that market: the non-offroad offroad vehicle market! I'm seeing a few Bronco Sports so far.
 
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The Bronco should be more civilized than Wrangler on-road which will make it a better suburb family cruiser than the Jeep. That could improve the appeal of the vehicle, especially since it's also way more spacious. And they've done a stellar job on the design, features, and capability. Not to mention there are tons of variants and accessories on the way that are just going to add to the "culture" and excitement of the vehicle. It's quite ambitious, probably the most ambitious product birth to come out of Detroit in recent memory, they are inventing a new icon with staying power. It's like being there for the first Mustang, but knowing ahead of time just how big it was going to be.
 
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