This is it: Ford unveils all-new Bronco, an off-roading SUV genius
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The long, long wait for Ford off-road enthusiasts is over — this is the new Bronco.
As previously reported, the Bronco is available in two key flavours; a body-on frame version made to take on the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender with class-rivalling rock-crawling abilities, and a more mainstream unibody version called the Bronco Sport, designed to take on the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 — but with its own off-roading flair.
The Bronco Sport is only available as a five door, while the more traditional self-titled Bronco will be available as a three and five-door. Note too, you can option the Bronco with portals in the front doors; a la the McLaren Senna!
Natually, more of the focus has been on the more serious Bronco variant. Ford says that the model's off-road capabilities were benchmarked against not just the Wrangler, but also specialist enthusiast vehicles like the Polaris RZR. There are two available engines; an EcoBoost 2.3-litre and a 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 making 231kW and 542Nm of torque.
Its ground clearance and water wading depth is best in class, at 294mm and 851mm respectively (the former can grow further, with optional 35-inch tyres available from factory). Breakover angle and departure angles have maximum values of 29 degrees and 37.2 degrees. There are seven 'G.O.A.T' (humble) drive modes available; Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, San, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and RockCrawl.
Ford claims its suspension has 17 per cent more travel front and rear than its closest competitor (rhymes with 'Grangular'), with the aid of a Dana AdvanTEK differential at the front and a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid-axle and coil spring combo at the rear. Both axles can be optioned with Spicer Performa-TRAK locking e-diffs, too.
Options are a big fixture on the more adventurous Bronco, with other things like more advanced Bilstein dampers also available for those wanting to take their beast off the beaten path.
Other decisions owners can make include choosing between a 7-speed manual and a 10-speed automatic, soft top or hard top, and between two different four-wheel drive systems (one with an electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case and the other with an electromechanical transwer case combined with automatic on-demand four-high engagement).
And, we cannot forget the customisation and off-road trinkets. The Bronco comes fitted with all sorts of clever nooks for tools and other peripherals to reside. And, as per the sneak images, the roof has numerous options ... to the point where the Bronco can have all its doors stripped clean off and the roof deleted in a process Ford says can be carried out by a single person.
And then we get to the Bronco Sport. It's still eager to prove its off-road ability, with best-in-class ground clearance (224mm), and better approach, departure, and breakover angle than its Jeep Compass Trailhawk rival.
It features much more rounded styling than the standard Bronco, and no the doors don't come off. The cabin is modern and blends neatly with the rest of the Ford range, although there are plenty of cues (like the immitation checker plate plastic on the backs of the seats and the inclusion of a bottle-opener on the frame of the tailgate) that point to its gravelly, adventurous demeanour.
Entry-level models come with a 1.5-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder making 135kW and 257Nm, with a more powerful 183kW/372Nm engine also available. Each comes paired to an eight-speed automatic.
For those in New Zealand that like what they see, I have some bad news. The Bronco is currently only being produced in left-hand drive. We caught up briefly with Ford New Zealand, and they reaffirmed that while the new Bronco is a popular beast in the office, it's not set to come here.
That's a shame, but never say never. With Toyota confirming its eighth SUV earlier this week, the fad looks set to only continue.
Check out the enormous DRIVEN Ford Bronco gallery below.