The 2021 All-New Ford Bronco Is The Off-Roader Of The Year

Meet the new boss. Not the same as the old boss.

The new Bronco is a quirky and fun new engine and a clear and modern rival to the Wrangler. It looks great, is rugged, like a toy (in a good way) and was really fun during last week’s testing. I was a bit late to the party – the Bronco’s been banging all summer – but the wait was worth it. Let me tell you how it turned out.

The first thing I like, natch, is the look. It took a lot to wake this weary car journalist, but I fell in love immediately and practically plunged into the driver’s seat. From its robust hood to the protruding sides, large door handles, beefy rear tires, and “Lightning Blue Metallic” paint, the Bronco has a slightly Tonka feel, which the boy in me loves.

The second thing I enjoy is the pleasure of driving it to my everyday destinations, like the grocery store, the mountains where I take photos, or just touring the city. Unlike the Wrangler, which feels “cross the street”, the Bronco rolls like an SUV, only with bigger tires, so there’s no ramp-up period where you have to grip the wheel tightly so you don’t carome left or right. Other reviewers have complained about its grip on the road, but after three Wranglers this year, I can tell you the Bronco has licked it, despite the numbness of the brakes and steering wheel.

Your engine choice is stingy – only two are offered, a 270-horsepower, turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder, or my tester, a 310-hp, twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6. The smaller engine offers a seven-speed manual transmission and my trim has a 10-speed one.

There’s a seven-speed manual, of course, but our tester is automatic, and it’s just as good. As soon as I entered the mountain forest with the small stones and the vehicle started to glide like an airplane that lost one wing, I had enough concentration, forgot to shift. I’m too busy laughing too. I’m not soft and the vehicle just plows through every slope, hill, divot and rock I aim for. Oh my God, this thing is fun on the road or out.

You only get 14-ish miles to the gallon but we know that’s about off-roaders, right?

And about that removable roof and doors. I didn’t touch it, not because I didn’t want to feel the open air, but because it’s been raining recently and I’m reluctant to pull over and quickly reassemble the roof and doors while my interior has been sprayed by God. I was hoping for a really sunny day, but it never happened. Next time, maybe.

INTRODUCTION:

It’s cosy with ample space for the big and tall, all the controls are well laid out with large knobs you can find in a split second and a great sound system. I don’t like the window buttons being placed on the center console, but that’s probably because I’m left-handed and always clumsy using my right hand to raise and lower windows.

OFF-ROADING – Champion

I had been a reluctant off-roader until a Jeep experience earlier this year outside Atlanta where a pro actually showed me the ropes, and I had the next ball. This time, with the Bronco, I shot straight into the woods and jumped up and down like a shot at the maraca, “laughing all the way.”

GOAT Mode is very helpful – it stands for “Strapping All Kinds of Terrain.” Modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Mud/Ruts, Rock Crawl and Baja. “Rock Crawl” was replaced with Sport on Badlands and First Edition trim. Each setting adds to a two- or four-wheel drive setup.

There is one instance, however, where Bronco’s technology is very helpful. I found myself on a rather skinny ridge, one where you use your left tire to ride the end and, well, try not to jump off the cliff to the left or right.

The vehicle camera showed me what I needed to know both on the wing and even under it. So, even though the stomach turned a bit upside down, I ended up going down without any trouble.

What Must Be Mentioned – Sasquatch

The Sasquatch is an available package including 7-inch aluminum beadlock-capable wheels with 35-inch mud terrain tires, electronically locking front and rear differentials, 4.7:1 final drive ratio, high clearance suspension and fenders, Bilstein shock absorbers and an automatic transmission. 10 speed. It is available in all trims.

Go, and remember to be nice to your mudder.

But also, good luck finding one to buy – demand is on the rise right now.

Starting price: $28,000-ish.

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