St Andrews, NB — Recently, we attended the Canadian launch of the Ford Bronco Raptor – not far from one of the most mental vehicles found on the market today. While her current chubby figure steals most of the headlines, the Everglades model also joins the party. Admittedly, it has quite a bit of hill to climb to separate itself from the Bronco’s significant shadow in the rapidly evolving world of special Broncos.
Luckily, he has more than a few tools to help him climb that hill, literally.
After all, that’s the Everglades model, really; it’s like a Bronco that’s been suitable for overland straight from the factory. It’s meant for soldiers through muddy terrain or over rocky trails and has been given neat cuts like the reversible snorkel, 35-inch Goodyear Territory rubber that throws oversized mud wrapped in special 17” off-road wheels that look tundra-ready and pice de resistance. Arguably, the standard 10,000 remote-activated War winches. Those accessories, of course, aren’t the end of the world; there are plenty of extra switches above the rearview mirror so all the good stuff available for other Broncos can also be had here. Spotlights, fog lights, mounts for traction pads and so on are all possible. It’s only available as a four-door – reasonable, given the application – and only with a hard top.
Aside from the tires and winch, it’s hard not to notice another exterior detail: the large “Everglades” logo on the front fender. If you look closely, you will see a lot of hash marks there. It’s more than just cool looking, it’s functional – the second from the top is very important because it’s 36” above the ground below, and is literally a high water sign that shows how deep you can wade. Let the water run over it, and you could be in trouble. There is also the new Everglades exclusive Desert Sand exterior color. Either way, it’s a really cool looking truck that wears its new bits well and gets a lot of added presence as a result. It’s not a Bronco Raptor, but Ford has managed to separate the Everglades version from other Broncos which is no small feat, considering that no Bronco of any line would ever be called a shrinking violet.
Inside, the uniqueness continues. There are custom vinyl seats that can be washed, floorboards that can be sprayed with drainage plugs and even the roof panels come with washable exposed plastic; You can add soundproofing if you want; just have to decide if you want to be cleaner or more comfortable I guess.
Otherwise, it’s the standard Bronco here – a gauge cluster with a large central TFT display, a minuscule steering wheel and switches at the top of the dashboard for your front and rear lockers and a Trail Turn Assist feature – more in a minute.
What you won’t see there that some of the other Broncos get is a button for sway-bar disconnection. In other Broncos, it’s a dedicated off-road feature to loosen the chassis and make it better at climbing bumps, both big and small. This is a great feature and not having it here is a bit of a bummer, as I can find it useful even in overlanding applications.
A 12” infotainment display is also standard, which is great as Ford’s SYNC infotainment system continues to be one of the leaders in that department. The buttons are large, responsive to touch commands and offer wireless CarPlay and Android Auto and make it easy to switch between the app and Ford’s native interface. It of course also offers a backup camera and a forward and downward facing camera which automatically activates in certain driving modes (of which there are seven: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Rock Crawl, Mud-ruts, Sand) to give you an idea. about what’s going on under your tires.
Being a four-door only model, the space inside is ample both front and rear and while the rear seats aren’t completely flat, it will provide 2,350 L of cargo space, good for all the coolers, hobs and sleeping bags you need. Oh, and there, crowning the dashboard is the mounting spot for GoPros and the like, so you can record your next overland adventure. Better yet are the trays that slide off the cargo floor; an Ikea-like icon on the front edge of the cargo floor indicates that it is used as a seat; personally, I’m thinking about barbecue.
We see standardization again when it comes to the powertrain as a single engine is on offer: a 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder good for 275 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque, fed to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. It may not be the power star in the line-up, but for longer trips while power matters, fuel economy may even be more than that, especially when the next gas station may be a few hundred miles away.
Power comes in fairly well, but comes with a rather tense report of having to work hard to haul the extra weight of custom tires, snorkels, and so on – perhaps the extra sound dampening provided by the optional roof panels isn’t such a bad idea. It’ll get you going pretty fast, and the transmission is a game to help provide the power needed to get through at highway speeds and beyond.
When it comes to crawling at a slower pace, meanwhile, it’s right there where you want it.
We had the opportunity to put it through its paces on mulch and loose surfaces where it was meant to excel—its goal, if you will—and it proved to be a tough competitor here. Rocks and twigs are no match for those little tires; You can here they are ping-ping-ping from undercarriage as they are chewed and spit out like lots of sunflower seeds at a baseball game.
As the track gets narrower and the corners get sharper, it’s time to test Trail Turn Assist (TTA) technology. Basically, what the TTA does when activated is apply the brakes to the inner wheels in turn, helping you spin as if on a cat track. It’s a rather scary feeling to see a huge square hood slung in front of you almost like a crab in the direction you’re steering. The TTA reduces the turning radius, which is of course important considering the Everglades is only available as a long-wheelbase model.
I miss that sway-bar disconnection. Having experienced the feature in a number of Broncos before this, I knew it would make a real boost on rougher terrain. This adds comfort and confidence, and when you have a cliff on one side of a forest road and a hidden stump on the other, you’ll want all the help you can get.
Get that, and the transition to the Everglades specs adds a neat layer to the experience, which some might argue is a more practical transformation for the likes of the Raptor. It’s more practical in the city than the truck, has better fuel economy and when it comes time to test the elements, it can hack it too. It’s a cool truck that doesn’t try too hard to be a little different, a little more fun.
- Standard hoist
- Ability to wade through water
- Ultra-capable wheels and tires that look great
- Hard interior
- Only one machine choice