On Monday night, in a coordinated advertising blitz across ABC, ESPN, and the National Geographic channel, as well as on YouTube and social media, Ford debuted its new Bronco SUV. The company is reviving the Bronco nameplate after a hiatus of 24 years, with new two-door, four-door, and Bronco Sport models on offer, all with four-wheel drive designed for off-road ability.
The two- and four-door Broncos comes in seven different trim levels, with another five trims available for the Bronco Sport, and there’s a bewildering array of customization available to suit just about every possible taste. Well, almost every—we’re sad to report there are no plans to offer the range as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or battery electric vehicle. So if you were hoping for some electrification, now’s the time to head to the comments instead of reading on.
The big Bronco
Whether two-door (starting at $29,995) or four-door ($34,995), the Bronco comes equipped with Ford’s 2.3L EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine as standard. That sends 270hp (201kW) and 310lb-ft (420Nm) to all four wheels via a seven-speed manual Getrag transmission. I mean, we say seven-speed, but it’s more like a six-speed plus an extra-low 6.588:1 ratio for use when the blacktop has run out and you want to go rock climbing without getting out of the vehicle.
If that isn’t enough, you can also configure a Bronco with Ford’s 2.7L V6 EcoBoost, which comes with 310hp (231kW) and 400lb-ft (542Nm). This engine only comes with a 10-speed automatic gearbox, and the auto is also optional on the four-cylinder for those who don’t want to row their own gears.
The Bronco’s four-wheel drive system has an electronic two-speed transfer case, although for more serious rock-hopping, Ford is offering an advanced 4×4 system that uses an electromechanical two-speed transfer case that also has an automatic mode. As standard, the front gets an independent differential and the rear uses a solid axle with a diff, both Dana AdvanTEK designs. This, too, can be upgraded, in this case to front- and rear Performa-Trek electronic locking diffs from Spicer.
Off-road performance is about more than just the powertrain—suspension plays a role too. In this case, it’s independent at the front and a solid five-link rear, with coil-over springs on each corner (and optional Bilstein dampers). The two-door has 8.4-inches (213mm) of ground clearance as standard, with up to 11.6 inches (295mm) if fitted with 35-inch tires; the four-door rides 0.1 inches (2.5mm) lower. Opt for the base trim and you get 7.9 inches (200mm) of front and the 8.5 inches (215mm) of rear suspension travel—if that seems puny then you’ll need the Badlands trim, which boosts it to 9.4 inches (240mm) front and 10.3 inches (261mm) rear. Among other stats that off-roaders might be interested in: an approach angle of 35.5˚ and a departure angle of 29.8˚ (or 29.7˚ for the four-door), which also increases to 43.2˚ and 37.2˚ when fitted with the bigger 35-inch tires.
Since Bronco fans think the Bronco is the Greatest Of All Time, and because goats are extremely agile on rough terrain, Ford has named the new Bronco’s off-road settings “G.O.A.T. modes.” There’s up to seven of these, depending on the various drivetrain options, which range from Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand through to Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl.
There are just as many trim levels available. Go for the base trim and you get 16-inch wheels, cloth seats, carpets, and an 8-inch Sync 4 infotainment system (similar to the one you’ll find in the new F-150 truck), but it has only five G.O.A.T modes. (Yes, I feel dumb typing that.) Next there’s the Big Bend, which gets 17-inch wheels, bigger tires, and six G.O.A.T. modes. Next is Black Diamond—this adds some heavier duty bumpers, rock rails and bash plates, and marine-grade vinyl seats plus rubberized floor coatings that let you wash the interior out if it gets too muddy, like the original Range Rover.
Next up is the Outer Banks, which is like the Big Bend with some more cosmetic tweaks. Ford’s 12-inch Sync 4 infotainment becomes an available option from here on out. Then the Wildtrak, which is an Outer Banks plus the V6 and advanced 4×4 stuff as standard, and it has all seven G.O.A.T. modes. Badlands comes after that, with 17-inch wheels, 33-inch tires, suspension that lets you electronically disconnect the front stabilizer bar, and that water-resistant interior. And finally there’s the First Edition, which gets the Badlands mechanical bits, the Outer Banks interior, and the Wildtrak exterior, among other bits and bobs.
During our briefing on the Bronco, Ford said that freedom for Bronco customers means being able to take the doors and roof off, and so all two- and four-door Broncos can do just that. The two-door has a three-section roof, the four-door has a four-section roof, and the modular hard top is designed to be easily removed by one person. (There’s also a soft-top roof if you prefer that.) The doors are all frameless and can also be easily removed, realizing the dream that Swatch boss Nicholas Hayek had for the Smart Car, before the watch company left Daimler to its own devices with that diminutive city car.
The modular and customizable approach continues on the inside. You can get front seats with MOLLE webbing on their backs, in case you need to make your Bronco tacticLOL. And the dash has attachment points and 12V power outlets so you don’t need to suction cup your phone or GoPro to the windshield.
The little Bronco (Sport)
The Bronco Sport is the Bronco’s little sibling, and it starts at $28,155. This one comes with a 1.5L three-cylinder EcoBoost engine with 181hp (135kW) and 190lb-ft (258Nm), with an optional 2.0L four-cylinder EcoBoost that bumps that to 245hp (183kW) and 275lb-ft (373Nm). In either case, that sends power to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic, with shift paddles and an oil cooler if you choose the 2.0L engine. And again, there are a bunch of G.O.A.T. modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand.
The Bronco Sport uses MacPherson struts for the front suspension and an independent rear with semi-trailing arms. The Bronco Sport only gets five different trim levels—base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition. The last two get a washable interior and two extra G.O.A.T. modes.
As you might expect, the diminutive Bronco is a little less capable off-road with an approach angle of 21.7˚ (30.4˚ for the Badlands and First Edition on 29-inch tires), a departure angle of 30.4˚ (33.1 for the Badlands, 27.5˚ for the First Edition), and 7.8 inches (198mm) of ground clearance (8.8 inches/224mm for the Badlands and First Editions on the big tires).
You can’t swap or remove body panels on the Bronco Sport like you can with the bigger Broncos, but you can still have your MOLLE seats, and the flat roof has been designed to easily take a tent on top of it. And like the F-150’s tailgate, Ford has built a bottle opener into the cargo area. On the infotainment front, the Bronco Sport has to make do with Sync 3.
Ford is opening the order books for the Bronco and Bronco Sport on Monday at 8pm ET (when this post goes live), and you’ll need to give the Blue Oval $100 if you want a place in the queue.
Listing image by Ford