Tough SUV Suitable for Family Tasks

Having been in this line of work for less than a decade, I can’t remember any other vehicle the general public has been waiting for more than the 2021 Ford Bronco. Possible Honda Civic Type R and Dodge Demon a few years ago? However, they live in a much smaller subsector of the automotive fandom, so it might not be fair to compare the three. The return of the Bronco is a big deal, and for several reasons. First, it’s one of Ford’s iconic nameplates, which means that when people hear “Bronco,” it reminds them of something—personal stories, car chases, etc. But perhaps more importantly, the Bronco is here to compete with off-roading. duality vehicles have also been unrivaled daily for decades.

All too often, test vehicles that automakers loan reporters to review come fully loaded and with flashy price tags. In other words, it is not determined how buyers will choose theirs. But that’s not the case here. No, the four-door Bronco test car arrived with almost no options and what I’d dare call an affordable price tag right now: a little over $40,000. An honest 4×4 SUV for good? How original.

Jerry Perez

For this kind of money, I’d expect to get a pretty basic—if not less than complete— SUV. Look, I’m not saying 40 grand is a dime, but have you looked at the prices of cars these days? Compared to current trends, the basic Bronco is almost a steal. On paper, though, it looks pretty complete: a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed manual transmission (six plus crawler gears), basic steel wheels, four doors wide open for kid’s duty, and a large trunk in which i could even fit a Newfoundland dog everything came as standard. As a non-luxurious overlanding SUV, what more could you ask for?

Specifications of Ford Bronco Four-Door Advanced Black Diamond 4×4 2021

  • Base price (as tested): $40,835 ($42,720)
  • Powertrain: 2.3 liter turbo inline-four | 7 speed manual | four-wheel vehicle
  • Horsepower: 275 @ 5,700 rpm
  • Torque: 315 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm
  • Seating capacity: 5
  • curb weight: 5,117 pounds
  • Ground clearance: 8.4 inch
  • Off-road angle: Approach 35.5°, breakover 20°, departure 29.7°
  • Cargo volume: 35.6 cubic feet
  • EPA fuel economy: 17 mpg city | 19 highway | 18 combined
  • Grab it fast: Bronco is just getting on with its business and not putting up a facade to impress you—but, nevertheless, it is. It’s just a good truck with truck-like compromises.
  • Score: 8/10

Base

The Ford Bronco follows the Jeep Wrangler guidelines to a T. Two body styles, two-door and four-door, are offered in a variety of models and prices. If you’re looking for a ranch hand, chances are the Bronco’s two-door base will do it. If you want to flex the mom and dad driving the Jeep Rubicon down the school pick-up line (you know, the Salt Life sticker type), then the four-door Wildtrak is in order.

Apart from the trim, all Broncos look basically the same. Box, Jeep-ish (excuse me), and is pretty basic. The exterior design is rather simple across the board with the front grille making up most—if not all—of the Bronco’s persona. Depending on the trim, you might get bigger fender flares, a different bumper, and a few different panels here and there, but the essence of the Bronco’s exterior look—especially its short overhangs—is simplicity for the sake of off-road prowess.

The interior follows this principle as well, sticking to a base material that can be washed off easily after a long day on the road. The vinyl-coated dashboard and transmission tunnel and rubber floor with drain plug mean you can actually take the hose to the cab to rinse off the mud. What feels like a marine grade vinyl chair is also easy to clean, so there’s no need to worry about getting dirt on those naughty kids.

The 2.3-liter turbo-four produces 275 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque and, in the case of the test car, is mated to a seven-speed manual transmission. The Bronco also offers 4 low gears and even crawls, which unfortunately, I didn’t get to try during my testing. In this trim, it offers 8.4 inches of ground clearance and a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.

Driving a Ford Bronco

The Ford Bronco drives the looks: sturdy. Once behind the wheel and driving down the road, there’s nothing to hide that the Bronco is designed to live on the trails. However, it offers a good compromise for road driving, and I would definitely say that the cabin is more spacious and the seats are more comfortable than any Wrangler. This makes it a great choice for parents (or individuals) who frequently transport children or other passengers in general. My week-long tests consisted of doing just that: dropping the kids off at school, taking the dog to the park (several times), running errands, and even hauling people and equipment for a neighborhood clean-up day. Just dad-town stuff.

The Bronco seems to adapt to its environment quite well, cruising moderately at low speeds but also moving swiftly around traffic when needed. As I’ll mention below, the interior is versatile and practical, offering what I’d expect from an off-road-oriented SUV. However, at speed, the level of wind noise in the cabin is quite high. I struggle to talk to my wife or child at high speed. I found myself playing the radio just to drown out the noise.

The suspension is definitely on the stiffer side, especially in a city going around 35 to 45 mph. At higher speeds, the ride becomes more suitable and therefore more comfortable. Steering is excellent, however, feels light and communicative in all situations. The same goes for the brakes, which feel soft on the pedals but the bite is firm and convincing.

The EcoBoost engine also feels powerful no matter where you are on the rev range. Fast acceleration and a small engine that can keep pulling hard until you decide to let it go. This is a machine that really likes to overhaul. Fast, slow, cruising, you name it, the turbo-four is ready to please. The same goes for the transmission, offering very short first and second gears for fuel economy (and off-roading), but longer high gears for a more comfortable driving experience on the road. To reiterate, I didn’t have the opportunity to off-road the Bronco (I treat it as a suburban dailies) but my colleague Kristen Lee did. He calls it an “off-road god” if that’s any indication of how it performs.

High and Low

The Bronco’s greatest strength is its packaging. It’s a solid SUV that’s sturdy and custom-built. It doesn’t masquerade as something it isn’t. It looks sectional, spacious and relatively comfortable inside — or at least as comfortable as this type of off-roader. The trunk is big enough to pack any gear you might need, whether you like rock climbing, scuba diving, or just storing a large stroller or groceries for the week.

As I mentioned above, the cabin is a noisy place. And yes, I understand that this is an off-road vehicle and will be louder than the average SUV. But I rode in the back seat of my friend’s new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon while I owned the Bronco, and I found it much quieter than the Ford even when fitted with bigger mud terrain tires. The location of the Bronco’s window switches is also annoying. They’re built into the armrest stack, and they’re just tricky to operate with your right hand. I know there are reasons to keep them away from the door (because the door is removable), but they can be repositioned to a more ergonomic place like the center console or even on the door itself. After all, if you take the door off, you don’t need that weird switch.

Ford Bronco Features, Options and Competition

As a four-door Black Diamond model, the test car sits right in the middle of the Bronco spectrum in terms of equipment and price. It features a locking rear differential, front and rear metal bumpers, rock rails, heavy-duty skid plates, and seven selectable driving modes as standard. Inside, it features vinyl trim and fabric upholstery, an eight-inch touchscreen running SYNC4 with basic media functions, and HVAC as standard. Optional equipment includes a printed hardtop ($695), cargo area rubber mat ($120), towing pack ($595), keyless entry keypad ($110), and roof rails with bars ($365).

It’s clear that I’m highlighting the Jeep Wrangler as the Bronco’s main competitor, especially at this test model’s price point. However, on higher Bronco trims, it’s worth pointing out that the Land Rover Defender 90 could also make an appearance. For now, though, the Wrangler Sahara will be its most direct competitor, with prices starting at $42,340 (including destination) and similar if not identical performance, comfort and technological features.

Continuity

Equipped with a manual, the four-cylinder Bronco delivers 20 mpg in the city, 22 on the highway, and 21 mpg combined, according to the EPA. This is pretty good for a 4,823 pound SUV. I mostly stuck to driving within the city during my tests — which were conducted in cold weather — and observed numbers that were close to those estimates.

Compared to the competition, though? The return is a hair on the low side (if you got it in Black Diamond trim).

EPA

Values ​​and Judgments

Having never ridden a Bronco, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the week-long test. What I found was a practical, purposeful, rather basic off-road SUV that didn’t suffer from an identity crisis. It’s not trying to be a race car, a luxury car, or even a bro-dozer. This is just plain utilitarian. This $42,000 Black Diamond model proved to be pretty much everything I needed and nothing I didn’t—except heated seats and steering wheel, because it’s winter in the Midwest. In terms of value, this Bronco is a winner.

Jerry Perez

Overall, however, it’s a good trip but not right for everyone to enjoy. Driving is similar to a Jeep, but offers a more spacious and practical cabin and trunk. It’s not the most comfortable of vehicles, but that’s to be expected from an SUV of this type. It packs enough technology to make life easy—like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a rearview camera—but nothing else. If there’s one thing Ford is nailing here, it’s the balance of how much equipment the average Bronco owner wants to own or own. no have with every trim.

If you’re looking for an SUV to drive the kids around during the week and then have the ability to off-road on the weekends, the Bronco Black Diamond is a good choice. Be aware that there are some compromises to be made.

Email the author at jerry@thedrive.com

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