How The 2021 Ford Bronco Stacks Up Against The Competition
We all know that urban SUV vehicles are dominating new car sales globally. All you have to do is look through your window and you'll come to realize that they're nearly everywhere. At the moment, there are over 120 different SUV models on sale worldwide, and we think that it's pretty amazing how one vehicle type has conquered the market this way.
However, while there are countless (literally) SUVs available to the public, only a handful of models could be called true off-roaders. Luckily, the 2021 Bronco is one of them, and it's coming just in time to restore the thrill of genuine all-terrain driving admidst the sea of pseudo-off-road vehicles the industry is drowning in.
In all fairness, the Bronco is not the only member of this group of true off-roaders, and several more quite competent vehicles are already on the market, fighting for the same cause and the same buyers.
Ford Bronco vs. Land Rover Defender
For the world residing outside the US, the Land Rover Defender is the epitome of a capable off-road vehicle. Designed originally for military and rescue service, with literally zero commodities at its origin, a light aluminum body, and dependable mechanics, Defenders have proven themselves in wars, deserts, and jungles all over the world.
However, after enduring through decades with just a few minor refreshes, in 2019 it was time for a brand new model and a brand new chapter in its history. Using the same retro-futuristic design formula as the Bronco, the Defender kept its easily recognizable looks, but with a modernized and updated take.
In comparison to the Bronco, the Land Rover Defender is offered in two body styles, with both two-door (Defender 90) and four-door (Defender 110) configurations, with room for five people and third-row seating optional.
Overall dimensions, shape, and appearance would likely be more comparable to the Bronco Spor,t rather than to the regular two and four-door Bronco. The new Defender doesn’t use a body on frame construction as its predecessor did, but instead employs a modern aluminum unibody with independent suspension, four-wheel-drive, locking differentials, and two transfer cases.
Even though the Defender's approach and departure angles are pretty good, Bronco is still somewhat more capable and enjoys a 3 inch advantage in ground clearance.
Looking under the hood, the Defender offers two engine options -- as does the Bronco. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 296 hp, followed by a 3.0-liter straight-six unit with mild-hybrid technology and 395 hp. There is no manual option -- buyers can only get automatic. Land Rover has announced a V8 version, but it won't be available until late 2022.
While the Defender is a capable machine, we can't help but notice that its construction is not as robust as that of the Bronco, nor does Land Rover offer as many variations or removable body panels.
Also, the base price of a 2021 Defender 90 starts at a pretty steep $46,000, and its top of the line version, Defender X 110, has an MSRP of $86,000. With the addition of just a few extra options, that figure easily exceeds $90k. For that price, you can have two Broncos in mid-range Outer Banks trim level, which is insane.
Ford Bronco vs. Jeep Wrangler
Regardless of just what your favorite off-road model might be, you have to give Jeep Wrangler credit for keeping the flame alive while all other brands decided to go after the lucrative soft SUV market. For decades, this was the only real domestic all-terrain vehicle that stayed true to its engineering and design concepts introduced over 50 years ago.
It's no secret that Ford designed the 2021 Bronco as a direct competitor to the Wrangler and that the new Bronco will spark the same off-road war as it did in 1966. So, let`s see what the Bronco is up against.
As of its updating in 2018, the Jeep Wrangler came in three body styles -- the classic, two-door model, the practical Wrangler Unlimited four-door, and an attractive pickup model called the Gladiator. All of the cars share the same body-on-frame construction, and Wrangler is one of the rare vehicles currently on sale with this feature. The body-on-frame design is a relic of the past, but it offers exceptional rigidity and stiffness, which is important for off-road vehicles.
Like the new Bronco, the Wrangler comes with removable body panels and an easily opened roof, a feature which customers seem to adore.
In terms of drivetrain and engine choices, while the Wrangler offers more engine options than the Bronco -- as well as a future V8 -- but comes only as an automatic. For 2020, Jeep customers could get a Wrangler with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offering 270 hp, a 3.6-liter V6 (with or without hybrid technology) good for 285 hp, and a fuel-efficient 3.0-liter diesel V6 that put out 260 hp, along with an impressive 442 lb-ft of torque.
The heralded 392 V8 originally created for the Dodge Challenger has been announced as a future option, along with a hybrid powerplant. Ford, on the other hand, will unfortunately not be installing a V8 in the Bronco, but will offer a hybrid option and a high-performance Raptor model to take on the Wrangler V8.
In terms of pricing, the 2020 Wrangler starts at $28,295, which is very similar to the base price of Ford Bronco Sport. Considering all the above, the Bronco and the Wrangler will likely dominate the modern off-road market for some time to come.
Ford Bronco vs. Toyota 4Runner TRD
Toyota has always offered competent off-road models in its lineup. However, the Land Cruiser has grown considerably in size and price, while the 4Runner has stayed true to its original off-road formula, down to a body-on-frame construction it once shared with the discontinued Toyota FJ Cruiser.
Although the current generation 4Runner was introduced over ten years ago, it's still a versatile model, but is outdated as far as its design, ergonomics, interior features, and technology. And, in contrast to the Bronco, the 4Runner is offered in only one body style.
The only available engine is a 4.0-liter V6 with 270 hp, and compared to engines used by competitors, it clearly lacks power and modern technology. Also, the 4Runner is available only with a dated 5-speed automatic transmission. The 2020 4Runner does offer third-row seating in some of the trim levels.
The base price of the Toyota 4Runner is $36,340, but the model most comparable to the Bronco is the 4Runner TRD, which costs considerably more at $50,470 -- almost identical to the Ford Bronco Wildtrack package. While the 4Runner does offer more interior space, the Bronco has better fuel economy, more power, better features, and it's more modern in every way.