One of the icons of automotive history returns, bringing back the Ford Bronco name and the values it stands for. Durability, toughness, off-road skills, and that go-anywhere ability created the American myth. We have already tested the two-door version with the 2.7-liter turbo V6 engine.
Ford is a generalist brand in the four corners of the world, but it has a handful of models that are among the most reputable in their classes: the mythical affordable sports car Mustang, the indestructible F150 pick-up (the best-selling vehicle in the world), the fast and purist GT and now, 55 years after the arrival of the original model and 25 years after leaving the production, the Bronco, the hard-core off-roader, capable of going “to infinity and beyond.”
Ford Bronco: we tested the sixth generation
For the engineers who developed the new generation (the sixth), the objective was very clear: to unite the genes of the Mustang with those of the F150 pick-up and become the benchmark in this segment aimed at customers who still want or need a true 4×4. , beyond a bourgeois urban SUV that gets anguish when it has to go through a small mound of sand.
For this Bronco a new architecture (T6) was used that mixes normal solutions in passenger cars (the independent front axle, with aluminum arms, derived from the one used by the Ford Ranger ) with others that are common in SUVs or hardcore pick-ups. (such as rigid rear axle or reducers).
Like the Jeep Wrangler (his original rival with which he is now reunited), the construction is with a chassis of stringers with a cabin above, unlike the new Land Rover Defender (another “enemy” but now with a more elite positioning), which became monohull.
Behind is still a stiff axle, also signed by Dana, and there are plenty of features that contribute to the GOAT (Go Over Any Terrain … that is, stepping over whatever) abilities that Ford says are part of the Bronco DNA.
Almighty in 4×4 driving
Acronym ( GOAT is the acronym for Greatest Of All Times -the best in history-) that ends up putting on the rotary control of driving modes and activation of the transfer box, located between the two front seats, next to the selector switch. gears (which can be a 7-speed manual, in the case of the 335 hp 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine ) – or a 10-speed automatic, exclusive to the 2.7-liter V6 engine, with 335 hp ).
There are seven driving modes to choose from ( Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery – slippery -, Sand (sand), Baja, Mud / Ruts (mud/ruts) and Rock Crawl (slow progress on rocks), the last three only in versions more focused on the hard-core off-road.
There are also two 4×4 systems, one with a normal transfer case and the other automatic, which manage the power delivery on both axles, being available for either of them (optionally) differential locking systems, to maximize traction (which, Unlike the Jeep Wrangler, they can be locked independently).
In addition to the optional Trail Toolbox, a kind of ‘toolbox’ for more demanding off-road terrain and consisting of: Trail Control, a kind of cruise control for off-road driving very useful because it solves part of the anxiety of the less experienced drivers, although more experienced drivers may claim that it also spoils some of the fun of trying to overcome obstacles (and works in 4H with “short”); Trail Turn, used to decrease turning diameter through torque vectoring, which fulfills its mission but is a bit rough because it fixes an inner wheel and the other three rotate around it; and Trail One Pedal Drive (only with the V6 engine) that makes the accelerator can be used to brake when released, as usual in electric cars, helping to manage the speed when passing over rocks and larger ruts in our way (it works by the application of the brakes while the driver accelerates, noticing a strong initial resistance to the movement of the vehicle).
Then there are the packages to make the Bronco a real “bug”, like the Sasquatch (the name given to the legendary being known as the abominable snowman ) that includes 35 “tires, allows it to cross waterways of up to 850 mm deep and has a ground clearance of 29 cm, in addition to the more generous attack, ventral and exit angles (43.2º, 29.9º and 37.2º instead of 35.5, 21.1 and 29.8 of the “normal” versions.
Also important are the Beadlock wheels (in which the tires are “bolted” to the rims), the shorter final drive ratio, the specific Bilstein dampers (with upper valves to increase stiffness and control of off-road movements), and the metallic protection in areas subject to impacts and more sensitive as the engine, transmission, transfer case, fuel tank, etc.).
The Bronco Sasquatch also receives a semi-active anti-roll bar that can be disengaged in 4×4 to maximize axle crossovers and angle of attack and should be engaged for better steering response and more stable handling on tarmac. Unlike the identical technology used by the Jeep in the Wrangler Rubicon, here it is possible to deactivate the bar during the attempt to overcome the obstacle so that the resulting greater width of crossing axles allows you to continue your journey (without the need to reverse to linear terrains to deactivate the stabilizer bar and try again).
Just for America
To drive the Bronco it is necessary to cross the Atlantic because on this side of the ocean there are none (nor is it supposed to exist shortly, since sales through the official Ford channel are not yet underway and even in the United States). United there are months of the waiting list ).
Of the three bodies in the family, the 3-door (there is a 5-door with an extended wheelbase and, later, a more urban Sport ), is the one that causes the greatest impact among the Americans. And what an impact!
Two 50-year-olds who are quietly fishing near Newport Beach, south of Los Angeles, are startled when they discover our red Bronco gleaming in the parking lot and, straightforward and unfiltered as they are, one of them can’t resist asking: “finally? Is it for sale? I would like to order one, but the seller does not even know when it will be possible … “. The fishing buddy quickly takes out his cell phone to keep some photos of this special encounter, while ‘shooting’, under his baseball cap, “if I give him $ 100,000 now, can I keep it?”
It is a lot of enthusiasm that has generated a very square 4×4 (it is the retro characteristics that connect it immediately with its ancestor, hence the postponement of its launch has made the wait more painful) and smiles emerge in any town for where we pass, from San Diego to Palm Springs.
This confirms the enthusiastic reception that the car has received, with more than 125,000 orders already almost exhausting the products available for the first year of life in the resurrection of the Bronco. Emotions aside, Ford has had an eye to betting on a vehicle of the pure and hard and relatively affordable 4×4 segment (in the United States it can be bought for the equivalent of 26,000 euros, and it can reach double that amount in the most expensive versions) because Its old rivals like the Mercedes G-Class, Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover Defender became much more premium (with prices to match), leaving a single direct rival, the Jeep Wrangler, grandson of the former Willys, to fight for the same terrain. Today as in the 60s.
At the wheel of the two-door Bronco
In this two-door version, the hardtop can be removed and one person is enough to loosen the latches and remove the doors (since repositioning them requires more labor and some practice, even to avoid scratching the paint). The four-door Bronco has a standard soft top and a hardtop option with four removable sections and the two bodies can store the door panels (without frames) in the trunk, inside their bags so they are not damaged.
In this way, the cabin (for four people in the short body or five in the long body) is practically open and well lit, inviting to travel in direct contact with the elements, especially since there is no cross member in the center of the roof. . Another positive aspect, the doors are quite large, which makes it easy to get in and out of the two rear seats (where two adults can fit well, courtesy of the 2.55-meter wheelbase, still 40 cm less than the Bronco’s. four-door).
The dashboard is very vertical and monolithic, it looks like a wall in front of the front occupants, but it also connects directly to the Bronco’s past. Plastics are rigid, which often makes these structures prone to creating parasitic noises over the years, especially in vehicles that have to swallow off-road roads. The positive is that they are easier to clean, as can the car floor if you choose the washable floor with holes to drain the water.
The instrumentation is modern, with two drawbacks: the bar digital tachometer does not have good reading and the selected driving mode has a small and poorly positioned indication. This choice is made using the GOAT rotary knob (which also allows selecting “long” or “short” on the transfer box), which, although well finished with rubber, should have a simpler operating logic: turn once to each side to change from mode to mode and not force to roll seven positions to go from one side to the other of each of the driving modes in the more “serious” 4×4 versions.
Near this control, we find the controls for the electric windows and the exterior mirrors, instead of being in the doors as is normal in Ford, simply because the doors are removed. The seat belt should be height adjustable. The central infotainment touchscreen has 8 “as standard or 12” as an option and has various functions, including displaying 360-degree images. around the vehicle. Finally, all the controls related to off-road driving (differential locks, stabilizer bar, traction control, Trail assist …) are in a horizontal band at the highest part of the dashboard, a more convenient location than on the Jeep Wrangler. where they are in a lower plane.
The mixed route through Los Angeles
There’s nothing better than a mixed city, highway, and off-road route for one to realize what the Bronco is worth dynamically. And the result is very positive, with one aspect or another that could be improved. Before leaving the urban area we have already seen the usefulness of the “beacons” at the ends of the bodywork (which can also be used to light a canoe next to a lake, for example) and also the 360-degree vision camera, to avoid damaging the body in narrower areas, because the Bronco is quite wide.
The elevated driving position, the wide seats with some lateral support (there are handles so that the passengers do not fall during TT driving), and the open views to the outside – a little less to the rear, unless we are in cabriolet mode – contribute to a very pleasant driving sensation. When driving without doors everything becomes more fun, so you accept the price to pay for the fact that the doors do not have frames: more aerodynamic noises driving on expressways when the car is all “assembled”.
Then the V6 engine has a pretty impressive “shot” and for the first time in this 2.7-liter unit, Ford managed to generate a tuba (rather than clarinet) acoustics befitting an engine of this caliber.
A brief experience with the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder showed that with the seven-speed manual gearbox the 4×4 experience is more complicated, because the throttle response is sometimes hesitant. The clutch pedal has too long a stroke, which only complicates matters. However, with this 10-speed automatic transmission, we feel freer to focus on the road, even if it is far from perfect in how it kicks down ( downshifting through various gears in response to full throttle) or how it shifts gears. travel at higher speeds.
And please, Ford, we must end this mania of putting the “+” and “-” buttons on the side of the transmission selector lever (besides being a slow gesture): it is much more intuitive and fun to do that same function with the paddles behind the wheel.
As a result of using a more sophisticated (independent) front suspension, the directional stability is really good, as is the comfort and precision of the steering response to instructions coming from the driver’s arms.
Of course, the Bronco still has more lateral body movement when cornering than a lower passenger car, but the chassis must be considered quite competent on asphalt, even if it fails to perform miracles.