Ford Sets High Bar for Factory 4×4 with New Bronco

Bronco is back, amid a substantial amount of fanfare and enthusiasm. Bolstering this iconic revival are some impressive stats that promise a highly capable, trail-ready, factory 4WD with a slew of optional upgrades. “We created the Bronco family to elevate every aspect of off-road adventure and equipped them with class-leading chassis hardware and exclusive technologies to raise the bar in the rugged 4×4 segment and take people farther into the wild,” says Jim Farley, Ford COO.

Spring Can’t Come Soon Enough

Ford will offer seven unique Bronco series with matched color and trim combinations under names like Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, and Badlands. Of course, the base Bronco is also an option, as is a first edition which will be available at launch. Looking to make Bronco your own? Ford will be offering more than 200 factory-backed accessories for maximum personalization. With production beginning in early 2021, you can expect to see the first Broncos arriving at Ford dealerships next spring.

Performance and Tech

Bronco is powered by a Race-bred EcoBoost engine, with either a 7-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission. With the manual transmission and advanced 4×4 mode, Bronco can achieve a 94.75:1 rock crawling gear ratio (the automatic version can achieve 67.8:1). The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine is projected to produce 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, while the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost is targeted to produce 310 pound-feet of torque with an expected 270 horsepower.

“Bronco’s advanced four-wheel-drive technology is at the core of its off-road capabilities, and at the heart of it all is Bronco’s exclusive Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. Modes that is designed to help drivers better navigate any type of terrain,” says Mark Grueber, Bronco’s consumer marketing manager. The new Bronco has two 4×4 systems: the base setup and advanced 4×4. Base relies on a two-speed electronic transfer case for on-the-fly shifting, and the advanced system features a two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode that allows for on-demand engagement, allowing you to select between 2H and 4H.

Bronco comes with a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid rear axle and Dana AdvanTEK independent front differential, both with available Spicer Performa-Trak electronic locking differentials to improve traction on rough terrain. There will be up to seven driver-selectable modes including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, with Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-pavement driving.

The rear solid axle design features coil springs with five locating links for strength and off-road control. Long-travel position-sensitive Bilstein dampers with end-stop control valves at every corner are available for added off-road durability and reduced harshness.

An available semi-active hydraulic stabilizer bar disconnect design offers maximum articulation and an increased ramp angle index for off-camber terrain. This system disconnects during articulation and can reconnect under all conditions to improve steering and stability at higher speeds.

Factory options include 35-inch off-road tires, available on every trim level of two- and four-door Broncos, and available segment-first, beadlock-capable wheels are optional for enhanced off-pavement performance.

A segment-first ‘Trail Toolbox’ offers three unique technologies to help make off-pavement driving even more approachable:

  • Trail Control – Cruise control for low-speed trail driving
  • Trail Turn Assist – Tightens off-road turning radiuses through torque vectoring
  • Trail One-Pedal Drive – Acceleration/braking control makes for more precise and confident slow-mode rock crawling.

A multi-function color LCD instrument panel is front and center with a transmission shifter/selector and G.O.A.T. Modes controller in the center console. The SYNC system, which is viewed on either an 8- or 12-inch LCD panel mounted on the dash, updates itself wirelessly and integrates with the FordPass app. SYNC also displays the available 360-degree camera system with off-road spotter views to provide additional visibility in technical pursuits such as rock crawling.

The Bronco SYNC system can display topographical maps and accesses a database of curated routes from NeoTreks’ AccuTerra Maps, Trails Offroad trail guides, and FunTreks trail guides.

“The trail mapping system available on Bronco is truly a game-changer in the off-road community,” said Grueber. “It works online or off on either of the navigation-capable 8- or 12-inch SYNC systems, allowing users to select one of hundreds of available curated trail maps to map out and then track, capture, and share their adventures with others.”

Clearance, Recovery, Armor, and More

Bronco has an ample 11.6 inches of ground clearance from the factory with a maximum 29-degree breakover angle and 37.2-degree departure angle. Bronco also has a water fording capability of up to 33.5 inches. Exposed tow hooks on Bronco’s front and rear complement the available heavy-duty modular steel bumpers with integrated Ford Performance accessory winch mount. If you opt for one of the higher-capability models, you’ll get an available front bash plate, engine shield, and transmission/transfer case/fuel tank protection. There are even factory-available side rock rails that are strong enough to support the weight of each side of the vehicle.

“Similar to the first-generation model, Bronco’s square proportions, short overhangs and wide stance are optimized for off-road adventure,” says Paul Wraith, Bronco’s chief designer. “The side profile features a flat, no-nonsense surface with clear-cut edges and robustly flared fenders. Large, open wheel wells are a modular design with a quick-release attachment for simple customization.”

Rounding out the new Bronco is a high-strength steel roll cage with integrated side curtain airbags in the upper structure and seats to protect passengers from side impacts. Driver and front passenger airbags also come standard. Available Ford Co-pilot 360-driver-assist technologies plus standard AdvanceTrac with roll stability control and trailer sway control help instill driver confidence.

Style

Two-door models come with a standard three-section roof system—left and right front sections and a rear section— molded-in color, and an available premium painted modular top with four sections that adds a removable panel over the rear seats and cargo area. Four-door models have four removable roof sections: left and right front panels, a full-width center panel, and a rear section. Roof panels on all models can be removed by one person by unlocking the latches from the interior. First-row panels stow away onboard on two-door models.

All modular hardtops have rear quarter windows that are easily removable without removing the roof panels, and a cloth soft top comes standard on four-door models (but you can also opt for the hard-top). Easily-removable frameless doors can be stored onboard (on the 4-door model). Trail sights on the front fenders serve as tie-downs and have a 150-pound capacity for securing longer items like canoes.

MSRP for the base two-door Bronco is $29,995, including $1,495 destination and delivery.

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Matthew Swartz is originally from Connecticut and currently lives in Denver, Colorado where he passionately pursues rock climbing, trail running, and skiing. Matt’s love of travel has inspired him to through-hike the JMT and part of the PCT, bike across the United States, and explore the West coast of South America from Ecuador to Patagonia. Matt and his partner Amanda have also travelled across much of the Western US in their 1964 Clark Cortez RV, which they lived in, on the road for the better part of three years. Matt has worked for the USFS as an Interpretive Ranger and Wildland Firefighter and Matt's photography and writing has been published in Rova Magazine, the Leatherman blog, 'Hit The Road' by Gestalten Publishing, and Forbes.