Ford’s iconic off-reader returns.
For a while it seemed like the only guarantee with the 2021 Ford Bronco would be waiting. The internet rumourmill spun with unsubstantiated tales of unibody construction, a lack of a manual transmission, false debut dates and worst of all, the rumour that the Bronco would just be a rebadged Everest. At long last, Ford has pulled the wraps off the new Bronco and at first glance it certainly lives up to the hype.
The 2021 Ford Bronco’s overall design is touch, rugged and retro without coming across as an overly-macho parody of the original SUV. The front end features standard round LED headlights and a choice of several full-width grille designs. Each side of the Bronco features just a handful of well-designed character lines, nicely-rounded fender flares and chunky door handles that are easy to grab with winter gloves on. The tail end finishes with nicely squared-off taillights, a side-hinged rear door and a rear-door-mounted spare tire. Altogether, it proves that less is sometimes more. The Bronco’s hardtops are removable in several sections, some of which can be stowed on board, and come standard on all models except for the base four-door. On other four-doors a dual-top package is available to give owners the best of both worlds. Interestingly enough, all four doors on the four-door Bronco can be removed and stored inside the vehicle with the rear seats still up. Best of all, the Bronco’s mirrors are mounted on the a-pillar which makes it perfectly legal in most jurisdictions to drive around sans doors. Another nifty design touch are two trail sights on the front fenders that double as 150-lb tie-downs for long objects like canoes. Ford was clearly thinking about its audience with this one.
On the inside, the 2021 Ford Bronco blends tech and capability. Sync 4 comes standard on either an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system or an available 12-inch touchscreen. Top-tier available lux features include a ten-speaker B&O Play premium sound system, wireless charging and a heated steering wheel. Fairly standard high-trim stuff, but what isn’t that standard on most SUVs is over 1,000 curated topographical trail maps accessible thorough the infotainment system. Another nifty feature is the availability of hose-out floors for easy cleanup, handy when a bit more mud gets thrown than anticipated. Advanced active driver safety assists including adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring are only available as optional extras, presumably as an attempt by Ford to keep pricing competitive.
Standard power comes from Ford’s 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine paired with a 6+1-speed manual transmission. What’s the +1 speed for? It’s a 6.588:1 crawler gear for easing over really tough stuff. Pair it with the optional electromagnetic transfer case (an electronic transfer case is standard) and the Badlands trim’s 4.7:1 axle ratio and the Bronco’s highest available crawl ratio is a ludicrous 94.75:1. For those wishing for two pedals and significantly more grunt, Ford’s 2.7-litre Ecoboost V6 is also available in conjunction with a ten-speed automatic transmission. On the chassis side of things, it’s a fully-boxed ladder frame with a Dana 44 live rear axle, Dana independent front suspension and coil springs at all four corners. Bilstein dampers are available, as are front and rear lockers and mondo 35-inch mud terrains. Looking for even more serious off-roading chops? How about available beadlock-capable wheels and an active hydraulic sway bar disconnect that gets two-door models an insane Ramp Travel Index of 700. The Bronco also offers up to seven drive modes and a wide array of skid plates to tackle everything from higher-speed desert running to molasses-slow rock crawling.
The 2021 Ford Bronco looks to be an overlander’s dream. Canadian pricing is set to start at $40,199 for a basic two-door model and top out at $61,994 for a decked-out four-door model, roughly in line with the Jeep Wrangler considering the 2021 Bronco features higher equipment levels including standard air-conditioning and that available 2.7-litre Ecoboost V6 engine. Waiting until the spring of 2021 for Broncos to roll into showrooms may be difficult, but it looks to be an SUV worth waiting a little bit longer for.