In Covid-free electronic debuts – some during sporting-like events with empty stands – the 2021 Bronco two-door and the first-ever four-door have appeared in what Ford is marketing as the flagship of an all-new family of rugged off-road vehicles. About the only thing standard is the marketing hype.
The all-4×4 has – what else – cliched heritage-inspired style, engineering and off-road technology, plus some doodads “to help outdoor enthusiasts create adventures in the most remote corners of the world.” The all-new Bronco after years of hype and hope at Ford appears with an all-4×4 lineup. Production begins in early 2021. The first models might appear in Ford dealerships next spring.
Prospective Bronco owners can choose from an extensive lineup of more than 200 factory-backed accessories for personalization, enabling dealers to provide “outfitting-on-demand” for individual needs – just like MOPAR does for Jeep. Just bring money not bitcoins: MSRP for the base two-door Bronco is $29,995, including $1,495 destination and delivery. “More detailed information, including vehicle specs, accessories and full pricing and options, will be provided closer to launch.”
Bronco – like other 4x4s – has off-road mapping and drive technologies. Ford claims this makes for lasting performance in the harshest of conditions for generations to come. Caveat here: Ford recently has had a devil of a time launching new models – notably the Explorer – because of what the CEO Jim Hackett admits is a failure to execute. Warranty costs reached $5 billion in 2019, up $1.5 billion in recent years — and fixing vehicle launch problems that have arisen also cost an estimated $1 billion.
Two 4×4 systems are offered on all Bronco models, a base setup and advanced 4×4 – for the moment unpriced. The base system uses a typical two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case, while the optional advanced system has a two-speed electro-mechanical transfer case that adds an auto mode for on-demand engagement to select between 2H and 4H.
Power is distributed to, ahem, a solid rear axle and independent front differential unit – both with optional electronic locking differentials for improved traction over rough terrain. Up to seven driver-select-able modes are offered, including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, with Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-road driving.
Optional is “Trail Control,” a cruise control for low-speed trail driving, while Trail Turn Assist tightens off-road turning radiuses through torque vectoring, and acceleration/braking control makes for more precise slow-mode rock crawling.
Segment-leading levels of off-road capability are claimed with possible best-in-class 11.6-inch ground clearance, a maximum 29-degree breakover angle and 37.2-degree departure angle, plus best-in-class water “fording” (sorry) of up to 33.5 inches. Off-road capability is further advanced by exposed tow hooks in the front and rear and optional heavy-duty modular steel bumpers with an integrated accessory winch mount.
Bronco’s steel shields protect critical hardware. Higher-capability models get an optional front bash plate, plus shields for the engine, transmission, transfer case and fuel tank. Bronco’s optional side rock rails 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,” claims Paul Wraith, Bronco 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.”
All-new Bronco architecture for two- and four-door models is based on a fully boxed, high-strength steel chassis that optionally has best-in-class suspension travel – 17% more both front and rear over the closest competitor it’s said.
To deliver high-speed off-roading and overall driving performance, every Bronco comes with an independent front suspension for improved control, confidence and comfort. At the rear, a solid axle with coil springs and five locating links delivers both strength and off-road control. Long-travel position-sensitive Bilstein dampers with end-stop control valves at every corner are optional for added off-road durability and reduced harshness.
An optional segment-exclusive semi-active hydraulic stabilizer bar disconnect design provides articulation and increased ramp angle index for off-camber terrain. This innovative system bests unnamed competitors by disconnecting during articulation; it can reconnect under all conditions to improve steering and stability at higher speeds.
Segment-first 35-inch off-road tires direct from the factory are optional on every trim level of two- and four-door Bronco, while optional segment-first beadlock-capable wheels allow customers to elevate off-road capability, regardless of price point.
“Race-bred EcoBoost engines and our segment-first 7-speed manual and optional 10-speed automatic transmissions give the all-new Bronco the optimal combination of power, torque and gear ranges to perform in a wide variety of terrains and uses,” said Dave Pericak, director, Ford enterprise product line management, Icons.
Best-in-class projected gasoline-powered horsepower and torque is available with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, which is projected to produce 310 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 2.3-liter EcoBoost is targeted to deliver best-in-class four-cylinder torque of 310 lb.-ft. with an expected 270 horsepower.
For maximum low-speed rock-climbing capability, a segment-first 7-speed (6+1) manual transmission paired with the optional advanced 4×4 system with automatic on-demand engagement generates aa optional crawler-gear ratio of 94.75:1. An optional segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission offers a maximum 67.8:1 crawl ratio with the optional advanced 4×4 transfer case.
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 optional 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 allegedly 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 removable in three steps – snap, push and lift away in a fraction of the time it takes for unnamed competitors – without removing the roof panels. By locating the sportbar behind the second row, both Bronco two- and four-door models have the largest overall open-top view in its class to take in the sunshine or to gaze at the stars or the asteroid that might end the Covid plague at night.
A cloth soft top, standard on four-door models, provides easy access to the open air and a tilt-up function for quick access to the rear cargo area. For customers who don’t want to choose between a soft or hardtop, the four-door model can be optioned with both.
Every Bronco comes with class-exclusive frameless doors. On four-door Bronco models, all four doors can be stored onboard with protective door bags. Exclusive cowl-mounted mirrors maintain sideview visibility when the doors are removed. Trail sights on the front fenders also serve as tie-downs, reminiscent of the first-generation Bronco, have a 150-pound capacity for securing longer items like canoes.
Inside, a multifunction color LCD instrument panel is front and center with the transmission shifter/selector and G.O.A.T. Modes controller in the center console. Available grab handles are integrated into the modular instrument panel and center console, while optional MOLLE hooks are mounted in the seatbacks. Attachment points are built into the instrument panel to mount a bring-your-own-device rack, with 12-volt power connections to mount cameras, navigation units, phones or other devices.
Optional is a segment-exclusive 12-inch SYNC 4 system with over-the-air updates and integration to the FordPass Performance app with off-road navigation – a Bronco class-exclusive feature that allows owners to easily plan, navigate and share their off-road adventures. The SYNC system also displays the optional 360-degree camera system with class-exclusive off-road spotter views to provide additional visibility in technical pursuits such as rock crawling.
Bronco’s advanced topographic trail maps and more than 1,000 curated trail maps are powered by trail content from NeoTreks’ AccuTerra Maps, Trails Offroad trail guides and FunTreks trail guides.
To make cleanups simple, fast and painless, select Bronco models come with washable rubberized floors with integrated drains and marine-grade vinyl seating surfaces that resist mildew. Instrument panel surfaces are wipeable, with seamless silicone rubber on the dash-mounted hero switches, while rubber touchpoints protect against dirt and water. Six optional upfitter switches mounted overhead are silicone-sealed to protect against the elements and to make customization easy, with pre-wired leads to key accessory points.
A high-strength steel roll cage with integrated side curtain airbags in the upper structure and seats helps protect passengers from side impacts and complements driver and front passenger airbags. Optional Ford Co-Pilot360 driver-assist technologies plus standard AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and Trailer Sway Control could help instill driver confidence (or recklessness?).
In a manufacturing nightmare, seven unique Bronco series are offered, with matched color and trim combinations. When combined with four content packages, numerous available options, 11 color choices and more than 200 dealer-installable accessories, personalizing an all-new Bronco SUV has never been easier.
Series range from a base Bronco, a no-frills SUV for those who want to customize their own, to Big Bend, Black Diamond and Outer Banks with a variety of options and colors, topping out with Wildtrak and Badlands for more extreme off-roading. An expensive limited-production First Edition will be offered at launch.