SUVs are a huge market segment these days, although with each passing model year, family carriers are turning more into the crossover business. The only outlier that sparked new enthusiasm for the wide range of SUV options available throughout 2021 came from Ford with the long-awaited new Bronco. Where the smaller Bronco Sport shares the foundations of the Escape crossover, the Bronco has emerged as a legitimate challenger for the Jeep Wranglerhas long reigned as the premier American factory off-roader.
With a retro-futuristic design to go with an impressive collection of optional off-road accessories, as well as a solid scale of finish from the mall robot to the hardcore Sasquatch package, the Bronco has managed to attract a lot of attention. attention and many pre-orders. Pandemic delays dampened some of the buzz, but without a doubt, the new Ford Bronco just had to win Official selection of HotCars as the best SUV of 2021.
New Bronco for a new era
Ford re-launched the Bronco nameplate in honor of the original 4×4 trucks that competed with Jeeps and International Harvester Scouts in the 1960s and 70s. Add the iconic (or notorious) white Bronco that OJ Simpson drove on the freeways of Los Angeles during his infamous police chase and the fact that Bronco was out of the market from 1996 to 2021 actually seems quite surprising.
The sixth generation of the Bronco arrived with many design cues reminiscent of older four-wheelers, including this oversquare exterior available with two or four removable doors, a choice of a ragtop convertible or removable hardtop, and several trim levels. ranging from base to Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, Badlands and Sasquatch. Early booking holders could also receive a coveted First Edition, although they will be ordering stiff markups from dealers.
Challenge the Jeep Wrangler
Everything about the new Bronco clearly targets Jeep’s longtime Wrangler, from the base to the Sasquatch which arrives with arguably more off-road capability than a Wrangler Rubicon. But Jeep fans and Bronco critics alike will no doubt point the finger at Ford’s decision to equip the new Bronco with independent front suspension, rather than the solid twin axles that siblings Wrangler and Gladiator still retain.
So the Broncos will ride better on the sidewalk – and the truth remains that even most Sasquatches will end up walking the vast majority of their miles to work, grocery stores, and malls (gasp). Yet with two optional engines, including a turbocharged inline-four producing 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque or a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 developing 330 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque, the Bronco has it all. Wrangler defeated. horsepower terms (other than the recent reactionary introduction of a 392ci Hemi V8 to the Jeep lineup).
Better off-road characteristics
While the Bronco may lack the most extreme articulation of a Wrangler Rubicon due to the independent front suspension, the selection from the different versions of the lineup adds important four-wheel characteristics. Probably the most appealing, the Bronco’s dual-disconnect stabilizer bars can activate immediately with the push of a button, something Ford proved to perfection during rides at SEMA last November. The Bronco’s system looks a lot more modern than Jeep’s, which only disconnects the front stabilizer bar in a seemingly long process, then automatically reconnects (and disconnects again) at around 17 miles per hour. In addition, the Bronco benefits from a differential adjustment of the train’s turn assist that locks a wheel in place to make tight turns in slippery situations more achievable.
Going for the Sasquatch package means factory 35-inch muddy terrains, locking front and rear differentials, higher clearance suspension with Bilstein shocks and more aggressive fender flares. However, the Sasquatch only comes with a ten-speed automatic transmission, while the less capable Broncos can be fitted with a “seven-speed” manual which is actually a six-speed with a crawling gear a. much like the opposite of overdrive. Mid-range Black Diamond gets all seven GOAT modes, 17-inch black steels, stronger bumpers and bash plates, overhead switchgear, and washable flooring.
The most hardcore desert racer
Even with all of the different Bronco packages, many potential buyers still scratched their heads at Ford’s decision not to offer a V8 engine. After all, in the escalation of the off-road wars between Stellantis (nÃ©e Fiat-Chrysler), the Ram TRX now comes with a 702 horsepower Hellcat Hemi! But it turns out that a V8 will fit into the Bronco’s engine bay, as evidenced by the recently unveiled Bronco DR that showed up at SEMA 2021, a factory desert racer that will be sold in limited numbers since. factory.
Meanwhile, several aftermarket companies over the past year have announced plans to ditch V8 engine options in their Broncos alongside standard modifications such as lift kits, rock sliders, light bars. and the metal bumpers that so many customers already love to install. And if anything proves how well the Bronco deserves the title of HotCars Best SUV of 2021, the wide variety of builds that showed up at SEMA with the full lineup of off-road goodies is sure to hammer the point.
Finalist: Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
Still, the final decision almost tilted toward the finalist for Best SUV of 2021, an honor that goes to the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat. After all, as the auto industry as a whole shifts from internal combustion to hybridization and full electrification, Dodge seems intent on coming out with a bang by dropping Hellcat Hemis into just about everything.
At HotCars, while EVs are already great, we love a big, supercharged V8. And come on, the Durango hellcat can transport a family of six from a dig to 60 miles an hour in three seconds! But it’s still more of a road beast, despite all-wheel drive, and family hauling means crossover concessions, so the Bronco earned the top spot here thanks to its all-terrain ability to do it all in a new SUV that came at the end of an era.
Sources: ford.com, jeep.com, dodge.com and ramtrucks.com.
The bar was set for the new Bronco, but Ford went above and beyond and managed to make it better than it ever was … in every aspect except one.
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