After all the leaks, teasers and spy shots, the all-new Ford Bronco is finally here. The name is returning after a 24-year hiatus, although in terms of styling, the new version is much closer to the 1960s original, as opposed to the fifth-gen Bronco which went out of production in 1996. Retro-inspired looks aren’t everyone’s bag, but we like what we see – one of these and a current-gen Mustang would be a pretty sweet throwback-styled two-car garage.
Unlike the original, there’s a longer wheelbase four-door version to go along with the two-door. Whichever you go for, there’s a strong focus on off-road toughness – both derivatives feature body-on-steel-frame-style construction, with solid rear axles. The Bronco doesn’t go quite as far as having a solid front axle like the Jeep Wrangler, however – the front suspension is fully independent.
You get 294mm of ground clearance, and partly thanks to the short overhangs, 29-degree and 37.2-degree breakover and departure angles, plus the ability to ford water up to 850mm deep. The Wrangler, for comparison, has 27.8 and 37-degree breakover and departure angles, 277mm of ground clearance and can wade in water up to 762mm deep.
35-inch all-terrain tyres are on the options lists for all derivatives, but it’s not all old-school off-road nouse – there’s plenty of tech going on too. Seven driving modes dictate how the car behaves – Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl. Along with those settings, the ‘Trail Toolbox’ suite of electronic trickery can be deployed to make your off-piste adventure easier.
The ‘Trail Control’ system is best thought of as off-road cruise control, while ‘Trail Turn’ uses torque vectoring to tighten your off-road turning radius. There’s also ‘Trail One Pedal’, a self-explanatory feature which makes acceleration and braking easier when rock crawling.
The base four-wheel drive system uses a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case, but if you fancy something which automatically flicks between the 2H and 4H modes, a two-speed electromechanical version is available.
To add some extra adventure to your day, it’s also possible to leave a bunch of the Bronco’s body panels at home. The doors can be taken off, the rear quarter windows are removable, and the roof – available as either a hard or soft top – comes away in several panels.
Inside that potentially very airy cabin is a chunky dashboard with either an eight or 12-inch Sync infotainment system. Through these, it’s possible (with the right option ticked) to access 1000 “curated trail maps,” which work both on and offline.
The engine line-up is fairly simple for now. You can have either a 2.3-litre Ecoboost inline-four producing 266bhp and 310lb ft or a 2.7-litre Ecoboost V6 churning out 306bhp and 400lb ft. These can be paired with either a seven-speed manual (featuring a crawl gear) or a 10-speed automatic.
If you like the idea of a Bronco but are unlikely to make use of all that trail-bashing stuff, there’s the option of the Bronco Sport. Shirking the Ranger pick-up’s ladder chassis for the Kuga/Escape’s C2 platform, it still has some off-road capability, with decent ground clearance, optional Trail Control assistance features and a locking rear differential on models further up the pecking order.
Like its big brother, it has washable rubber flooring, although you can’t start taking its body panels off. At least, you’re not supposed to. Its two-engine line-up consists of a pair of petrols – a 1.5-litre 179bhp/190lb ft inline-three and a 2.0-litre with 242bhp and 275lb ft inline-four. An eight-speed auto ‘box is used for both.
The regular Bronco range starts at $29,995, rising to $60,800. For a Bronco Sport, you’re looking at anything from $28,155 to $39,995. There are no plans to bring either to the UK. Boo.
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