Twenty-twenty has been a shitful year with little to make you smile, so thank God some automakers have been hard at it and creating some reason to live again! Overnight the new Ford Bronco was revealed to the world after a two-decade hiatus and man, is this thing the goods!
The most notable new additions to the ranks of true off-roaders this year are from Jeep, Land Rover, Ineos and now Ford. The Jeep Gladiator (Jeep’s new dual-cab, Wrangler-based ute, which we drove a fortnight ago in the Flinders Ranges and we have a full video review coming soon) is a proper 4X4 and we loved it (if only it had a diesel engine), whilst Land Rover is batting up its new 2020 Defender (here in August) and in pre-production and announced just last week, is the all-new Ineos Grenadier arriving in 2022. But the Bronco is the newsmaker of the moment and it makes me smile. I think we might finally be spoilt for choice 4X4-wise, instead of starved with dreary and incapable Japanese blandness… if only we can convince Ford Australia to sell it here.
Bronco uses a traditional chassis, a ladder frame that plenty of you will be familiar with as development work was done here in Australia using the Ranger’s T6 architecture, ditching the leaf springs and using a coil back end like the Raptor, but the bigger news is up the front. The IFS again leans on the experience learnt from the Raptor, creating lots of wheel travel and including a disconnecting front sway bar for a package Ford brand as HOSS (High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension). You can even option in a package with Bilstein position-sensitive shocks so you can ape those in the Trophy Truck wars.
The vehicle will even take 35 inch wheel/tyre combo right from the get-go with the ‘Sasquatch’ package (AKA Big-Foot) that gets you some serious class-leading clearance and all factory-standard, along with Dana front and rear lockers, the Bilstein shock set, bead-lock capable wheels, lifted suspension and high-clearance fenders (you can bet Aussie registration authorities will put the brakes on some of that).
Instead of having to buy a vehicle with a whole bunch of useless frippery, you can option in the seriously cool off-road kit into the base model, yep a poverty-pack that at the end of the day you can hose out and have no regrets! Speaking of things muddy and wet, Bronco claims a water-fording depth of 850mm, a ground clearance of 295mm and a ramp-over angle of 29 degrees.
Transmission detail includes a ten-speed auto, again like the Raptor or a seven-speed manual and coupled to a part-time/full-time, shift-on-the-fly setup with 2H (2WD), 4A (AWD), 4H (4WD HI) and 4L (4WD LO) and the low range is super, super low with a claimed near-95:1 ratio to clamber up the steepest of hills or haul through the boggiest of mud!
Bronco’s terrain management system is called G.O.A.T. or ‘Goes Over Any Type of Terrain’ and is a dial-activated response to whatever it is you’re looking at. Other makers employ similar setups these days on their 4X4s, tuning the throttle management, traction and diff-lock systems, suspension and gearing to provide the best results when the going gets tough.
There’s even a ‘Trail One-Pedal Control’ feature that allows single foot driving. Press the gas pedal and car goes forward. Lift off the pedal and car eases to a halt. Perfect for rock-hopping! Turn-Assist seen on LC200 makes and appearance here, reducing the radius of a tight turn by dragging the inside rear wheel and powering the outer one so you can turn in your own length should you need to.
Engine choices are currently all petrol, no communication on diesel, hybrid or EV yet but you’d assume that’s coming. The hero 2.7litre EcoBoost V6 makes 230kW/542Nm or the base engine a 2.3litre EcoBoost in-line four produces 201kW/420Nm. Those numbers are great provided they’re not delivered at stratospheric engine speeds.
Ford’s not alone in recognising that accessories makes some pretty sweet profit, so you can expect your Bronco can be tailored to suit your needs with a huge range of gear, two hundred items at the time of writing and more being added to a list including winches, funky doors, rock bars, lights and light bars, clothing and other merch that’ll see your bankcard go into meltdown faster than a Cadbury’s on a hot bit of granite.
For the influencers there’s plenty of points to mount your GoPros, your GPS and iPhones so you can look vacuous whilst pondering WTF a diff-lock is? There’s also the obligatory big screen in the dash and the trail maps are customisable so you can record and share your information with others. Oh and it supports Apple CarPlay of course!
Something that pleases me as a professional 4X4 trainer all of my working life is that Ford are offering free enrolment with every Bronco purchase in their ‘Off-Roadeo’ driving school, where you can get tutelage in how to use your Bronco to the max. I’m sticking my hand up for that little perk when I next get a chance to head OS again and drive one of these trucks somewhere in the wilds of the USA! We’ll show them some proper driving!
So, that’s the lowdown on new Bronco. Don’t hold your breath just yet on availability in Australia because like all things, business cases have to be built and it sucks that the RHD-built world is increasingly shrinking. GM aren’t interested in it anymore because the volumes are small, but I can’t help think that Bronco makes perfect sense here and no-one would notice if Everest disappeared… forever. Put a diesel engine in it and Fleet buyers would buy it as they’ve demonstrated a willingness to do with the Ranger. C’mon Ford Australia. You made an argument for the Mustang and it worked, this thing would sell in droves given half a chance!!!
View the Ford Bronco YouTube teaser here…