Pick your movie quote, either The Terminator’s “I’ll be back” or Frankenstein’s “It’s alive!” Either way, you’ve got the theme for the 2021 Ford Bronco. After a 20-plus-year absence, this storied SUV will arrive at Military AutoSource in the spring of 2021. This new Ford Bronco derives a lot of its style and spirit from the original 1966 Bronco and goes head to head against two other off-roading icons, the Jeep Wrangler and the Land Rover Defender.
The 2021 Ford Bronco will come in two-door and four-door variants that are both body-on-frame vehicles like a pickup truck. There’s also a Bronco Sport model. It’s based on the Ford Escape crossover SUV.
What sets the new Bronco apart from its rivals, and indeed any other vehicle, are its modularity and customizable nature. You can remove body pieces, fenders and doors with relative ease, and there are plenty of hidden hard mounting points for accessorizing to your heart’s content. Naturally, the Bronco has all of the all-terrain features needed to tame the wilderness too.
The base engine for both the two- and four-door models is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. For the larger and heavier four-door, you might want to get the turbocharged 2.7-liter V6. It makes 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.
I’m particularly excited to see that the Ford Bronco can be had with a seven-speed manual transmission. One of the seven forward gears is a dedicated crawl gear for serious off-roading. This transmission, unfortunately, is only offered on the base engine. Optional for the four-cylinder and standard for the V6 is a 10-speed automatic. A two-speed transfer case is standard for every Bronco.
I haven’t had the opportunity to drive the new Bronco yet, The four-cylinder engine, combined with the manual transmission, seems to have plenty of power. Select one of the more serious off-road drive modes and the Bronco electronically enhances the engine’s sound to be deeper and louder. Yes, it’s fake, but it sounds great and can actually serve a purpose. It gives you a better indication of how much you’re revving the engine, which can be difficult to hear in the quieter modes and if you happen to be, say, wearing a helmet while bombing through the desert at high speeds.
The Bronco ably clambers over rough terrain and makes its way through deep sand. The relatively small size of the two-door Bronco also makes manoeuvring on tighter trails easy. The forward-looking camera is also cool and helps take the guesswork out of picking a line when cresting over a peak.
Another cool party trick is the hydraulic front stabilizer bar disconnect system. You can disconnect the front stabilizer bar even when the suspension is under offset loads. Imagine an off-roading situation where one side the Bronco’s front suspension is fully compressed while the other front wheel is hanging in the air. Pushing a button in the cabin disconnects the bar, greatly increasing articulation and letting that suspended wheel potentially drop back down to the ground.
Like the exterior, the Bronco’s interior has a distinct nouveau retro look and feel. A broad horizontal dash dominates the cabin, with strategically placed grab handles that your passengers can use to help keep themselves in place as you bounce along a rocky trail. Those handles are easily replaced or removed. The doors are also easily removable, and Ford made it simple for you to stow the doors in the back. Rear passengers won’t feel left out of the action either. With its elevated rear seating, the Bronco provides a more expansive outward view than a lot of other SUVs.
Ford has even given the Bronco an option for floor drains. Yes, that’s right, after a day in the great outdoors, you can hose off the interior in Broncos so equipped and drain out the water. Vulnerable switches and knobs are sealed to prevent short circuits, and there are optional marine-grade vinyl seats to prevent damage.
While the Bronco’s styling has a distinct retro vibe, it’s not missing anything technology-wise. Beyond Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the typical advanced safety features, there are a lot of systems to help you get the most out of your adventures off-road. The navigation system, for example, works when you’re off-road and features trail recommendations. (You can also share yours.) Strategically placed cameras can help take a lot of the guesswork out of picking the right line on a trail. There’s even an option for a camera view that shows the terrain in front of each tire.
Additional all-terrain tech includes Trail Control. It functions like a slow-speed cruise control so you can concentrate on direction rather than the throttle. Trail Turn Assist allows the Bronco to make very sharp turns by braking the inside wheel while the vehicle almost pivots around it.