Ford really isn’t messing around. After a 24-year break, the Bronco is back, and it wants for nothing more than to bludgeon the Jeep Wrangler into a muddy submission.
And on the strength of its spec, looks and price, it could well do just that, and possibly even tackle the iconic Land Rover Defender too, at that!
Available with either two- or four-doors, the big Bronco (there’s a smaller Bronco Sport too.) is based on the same platform as the Ford Ranger pick-up – a “fully boxed, high-strength steel chassis” that allows for 17 per cent more suspension travel than “the closest competitor”.
Naturally four-wheel drive is standard – base-spec cars get a “two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case”, while the “Advanced” system has a two-speed electromechanical transfer case for auto shifting between 2H and 4H.
As for engines, you get the choice of a four-cylinder with 270hp and 420Nm, or a 2.7-litre V6 with 310hp and 542Nm. Both turbocharged, both petrol, both with 10spd automatic transmissions.
Though the four-cylinder gets the option of a clever 7spd manual – six regular ratios plus a crawler gear for the really serious stuff.
0-100km/h? Top speed? Not important. We’ve got some more Bronco-y numbers for you – Ford promises 11.6-inches (295mm) of ground clearance, breakover and departure angles of 29 and 37.2 degrees and a 33.5-inch (851mm) wading depth.
Independent front suspension (an optional semi-active front stabiliser bar disconnects for better axle articulation) is backed-up with a five-link solid axle at the rear.
You can get 35-inch tyres and beadlock wheels (FROM THE FACTORY), plus heaps more serious off-road tech like long-travel, position-sensitive Bilstein dampers and Spicer electronic locking differentials.
High-spec Broncos get steel shields to protect the engine, transmission, transfer case and fuel tank from harm, and you can have heavy-duty steel bumpers with space for an integrated winch, plus “rock rails” strong enough to support the 4x4’s entire weight.
There are up to seven drive modes – including Sand/Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl. “Trail Control” is effectively low-speed cruise control, while “Trail Turn Assist” uses torque vectoring to tighten the Bronco’s turning radius by overspeeding the outside wheel. Meanwhile the sat-nav gives access to topographical trail maps.
That’s it for the tech (there’s lots more we haven’t mentioned…), now onto the design.
Unsurprisingly Ford has gone down the retro-route. Indeed, design work started with a 3D scan of the first-gen Bronco “that served to influence the proportions and design” of the new one. We think it looks superb.
Two-door Broncos get a roof that can be removed in three sections, while four-door models have four removable sections and an optional soft-top.
All Broncos get removable frameless doors, plus slights on the front wings that can also serve as tie-downs.
Inside – which we guess if you’ve taken the roof and doors off isn’t really inside at all – materials are tough and hard-wearing.
Some models get hose-down interiors with marine-grade vinyl seats and drain plugs.
The screen is up to 12-inches across and runs Ford’s latest SYNC4 infotainment system, plus there’s a mounting point on top of the dash for a “bring-your-own-device rack” for phones, GoPros etc.
There are seven different Bronco specs on offer – all of which look excellent – plus loads of options (get the Sasquatch Package, trust us) and some 200 accessories you can get from your dealer (light bars, those doors with holes in and so-on).
Prices start at US$29,995 for the two-door. Likelihood of it coming in right-hand drive? Slim to non-existent, which is just awful news. We’re tempted.
Americans can reserve one now for $100 at Ford’s website.
STORY Tom Harrison