3 Upgrades to Consider for Your New Ford Bronco
Now that Ford’s assembly lines are ramping back up again and the gap between orders for the new Ford Bronco and completed, ready to roll units begins to narrow, there will no doubt be a large contingent of eventual Bronco owners who begin to plan their aftermarket upgrades.
This doesn’t come as a surprise — the Bronco was designed at its outset to readily lend itself to modification, and Ford’s decision to position the economically attainable base-level Bronco as a sort of blank canvas for aftermarket upgrades means that a substantial number of Broncos will get the aftermarket treatment.
Of all the potential off-road components out there that can be added — and there are quite a few — here are three of the most popular upgrades, along with the advantages they offer.
It’s no surprise that many new SUV owners go right to this aftermarket mod nearly as soon as they get their new rides home — even if their future plans don’t include venturing off the asphalt or are limited to fairly tame off-road pursuits.
Aesthetics are subjective, of course, but a lifted SUV or truck just looks cool. It also sends a message that the vehicle in question is a cut above its production counterparts and has received some special treatment.
As we pointed out in a previous blog post, just a modestly lifted suspension will allow for the addition of larger tires, which in turn ups the attention-grabbing power of a new Bronco — or any other off-roader — even more. In factory form, new Broncos tend to draw a crowd, but equipped with more sizable tires and tastefully aggressive aftermarket wheels, they’re downright magnetic.
Once you venture onto more rugged terrain, the functional aspect of lift kits comes even more into play. Broncos feature substantially sized wheel wells that accommodate big tires to begin with, but with wheel clearance left at factory spec, when you encounter a sizable obstacle, those tires could run out of room before contacting the body of the SUV. Increase your ride height via a lift kit and you get increased wheel travel as well.
In addition, an increased ride height improves a vehicle’s approach angle, breakover angle and departure angle, which directly enhances your Bronco’s overall off-roading abilities.
There are two varieties of lift kits on the market. Most owners don’t contemplate raising their ride more than about 4-5 inches — although there are exceptions, of course. This means a body lift kit would be the logical choice. They’re generally fairly easy to install —a substantial number of off-road enthusiasts are capable of doing the installation themselves. If such a project feels like it might be a bit beyond your skill set, there will almost always be a qualified shop not far from you that can do the job.
Supposing that 5 inches of elevation isn’t enough for you and you REALLY want to make a statement. The next step up would be a suspension lift kit, which raises the entire suspension of the vehicle. You can easily see why this is a far more involved — and therefore expensive — modification. But the upside, besides sheer visual impact, is the potential addition of even bigger tires, as well as the ability take on more formidable territory.
Sure, this is another aftermarket component that looks very cool even when your Bronco is at a standstill, but in more demanding circumstances, the addition of a winch is an upgrade that can really pay dividends and potentially stave off very bad consequences.
Look at it this way. The more intrepid you are, the more likely you’ll be taking your Bronco off-road. And the more often you venture off the asphalt, the more likely you’ll want to flex your off-roading muscles in the form of taking on ever more difficult terrain. As you do, the chances you’ll eventually get stuck — or worse — rise substantially. After all, despite its generous ground clearance and very accommodating suspension, even a new Bronco has its limits.
When you find yourself with a compelling need to extricate yourself from a difficult off-road situation, a winch becomes indispensable. While cheaper and more easily accessible snatch straps are going to be sufficient to deal with mild inconveniences — assuming another willing vehicle is standing by to help — they have some serious limitations.
For starters, they generally max out at about 30 feet of length, which may seem like a lot, but in practice, it isn’t. If you find yourself down a steep embankment, that may not be nearly enough length to position another vehicle properly to help you out of the situation without putting it in peril — resulting in two stuck and likely very frustrated off-roaders. By contrast, bumper-mounted winches with 100 feet of cable are commonplace, and that extra range can make a world of difference in certain situations.
Once the pulling gets underway, winches present another clear advantage. While the efficacy of snatch straps are largely dependent on the skill level of the well-intentioned motorist seeking to help you out — who might or might not be able to handle ever-so-subtle depressions of the gas pedal in a pressure situation — a winch takes most of the human element out of the equation. A high-quality aftermarket winch will pull smoothly and evenly, regardless of how much adrenaline is shooting through your veins as you operate it.
As an additional benefit, most winches are relatively easy to move from one vehicle to another, although you probably wouldn’t make doing so a consistent part of your off-road routine.
Underside Protection/Skid Plates
Just as their name implies, these components are tasked with protecting the underside of your Bronco from damage. This damage usually comes in the form of abrasion — or worse — stemming from unplanned encounters with off-road obstacles, such as fallen logs, boulders and other debris.
We often tend to think that skid plates largely prevent cosmetic damage that might otherwise occur in their absence, but in reality, the fallout can be potentially more serious. Think of this scenario. You’re navigating your Bronco off paved roads, where you encounter lots of variations in terrain, along with a variety of obstacles. As you ascend a particularly steep incline, only to find an even steeper decline just behind it, the undercarriage of your Bronco comes into contact with jutting rocks and debris that could easily scrape it up or even damage vital components. A sturdy set of aftermarket skid plates can help minimize the consequences of such an encounter.
In reality, most vehicles have underside protection of some sort — even passenger cars, for that matter — but aftermarket skid plates offer a greater degree of protection, in effect sacrificing themselves on behalf of your car’s undercarriage.
Obviously, every component has limits to what it can withstand, and skid plates are no absolute guarantee of protection, but they can help shield vital components from damage.
As an aside, even in a Bronco’s native, factory state, the underside plating that’s already in place affords substantial protection that contributes to the SUV’s ability to ford streams up to just under two feet in depth when equipped with the Sasquatch package’s larger tires. By contrast, most SUVs, such as the Ford Expedition, are relatively exposed below, so their stream fording abilities come to a halt when the water level reaches around hub-level, which is generally in the neighborhood of 12 inches.
So, if you’re in the process of eagerly awaiting the arrival of your new Bronco — or even if you aren’t — which upgrades would you contemplate right off the bat? We’d love to hear from you.