The Jeep Wrangler has competition come and go. Yet somehow it remains unequaled as the affordable, open air SUV with off-roading capability. This top seller in the United States has good resale values despite its rough-and-ready demeanor. It’s no wonder that a manufacturer wants to get a piece of that action.
Enter the 2021 Ford Bronco. The brand is using a name from its past that conjures up exciting images for those who romanticize the American West. This Mexican word was adopted by American cowboys. Bronco means a horse that hasn’t been trained. That’s why it seems like the perfect word to describe an off-road ready machine.
Despite the name and all of the clout that Ford brings to the project, it seems like a long shot to unseat the Jeep Wrangler from its throne. Ford, however, is managing to check all the boxes from style to capability. Here’s a look at how it will stand up to its well-established rival.
You can get a Wrangler as a two-door or four-door SUV. These have soft tops and hard tops that can be removed. This goes way beyond the biggest sunroof. It even surpasses convertibles. That’s because you can flip down the windshield and take off the doors. Some would be surprised that this vehicle is even allowed in busy traffic.
Ford will be selling two-door and four-door varieties as well as soft tops and hard tops. Yes, the doors can be removed. In fact, stylistically these SUVs will sit up as high as their Jeep rivals, and they will have minimal overhang to prevent snagging on bushes, just like the Jeeps. This is essential to keep car maintenance costs down and still allow fun on rugged terrain.
As you know, manufacturers must build off-roaders the opposite of race cars. Whereas a racecar is low to the ground, the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco have at least 8.4 inches of ground clearance. This maxes out at 11.6 inches. They can ford through water as high as 33.5 inches. You won’t catch a racecar driver heading into that. Rather than tough, lightweight tires, these off-roaders roll on tires as big as 33.5-inches.
With names like Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, and Badlands, the Bronco is also trying to rival Jeep’s ability to customize straight from the factory. Ford may even be doing it better since each model will have slightly different capabilities. Only time will tell if this new entrant can unseat the off-roading king.
While Jeep Wranglers don’t come across as speedy, they do have a significantly powerful engine for their size. There’s no way that they can have anything less if they want to go off road. There’s 260 pound-feet of torque to complement 285 horsepower. That ensures the vehicle can harness low-speed torque and keep moving on a rocky trail.
Here’s where Ford clearly decided they could not only compete but outrun their rival. Slightly lower horsepower, rated at 270, is a bit misleading. This vehicle has the advantage of a ten-speed automatic transmission and a whopping 310 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed manual is standard, going head to head with the Jeep Wrangler’s manual transmission.
Ford has learned to build vehicles lighter, utilizing aluminum for its Ford F150 and Superduty trucks. This comes in handy when building an off-roader just as it would for a racecar. Furthermore, Ford’s Ecoboost engine reduces how much gas it needs to get that level of power. Plus, Ford is offering an even faster Ecoboost engine. This one spits out 310-horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque.
Jeep is swinging back hard with several new engine choices. Shoppers who are willing to spend much more on their Jeep Wrangler can get a 470-horsepower V8 or a 375-horsepower engine with an electric motor. On the more affordable side, Jeep is offering a 270-horsepower turbo with 295 pound-feet of torque. When it comes to the basic capability, however, Ford’s high rate of torque is a bargain for those who really don’t want to overspend.
While you won’t see these two on a racetrack, you can see how much fun it would be behind the wheel. Ford is certainly throwing everything it can at the Jeep Wrangler to give Bronco a leg up in the competitive arena that is off-roading.