Is the New Ford Bronco Overhyped? It Sure Doesn’t Look Like It – Here’s Why
As we’ve noted on several occasions, there have been very few automotive launches that have prompted the level of excitement that currently surrounds the new Ford Bronco. Enthusiasm for the model spiked immediately after Ford announced that the iconic SUV was going to return after a 25-year hiatus (it was originally intended to be only 24 years) and has really shown no signs of subsiding ever since.
But anticipation for a new automotive model doesn’t always equate to success over the long haul. The Dodge Prowler was hailed as a game changer when it first debuted, but its less than refined driving experience led to a relatively short shelf life. Over the years, quite a number of other eagerly awaited debuts fizzled not long after the proverbial rubber hit the road.
So, is it possible that despite all this fervor, the new Bronco is overhyped? From all indications thus far, the answer would be a resounding “no”.
Before delving into those indications, it’s worth mentioning that there’s little doubt that rekindling a beloved model should be substantially easier than launching an entirely new one. The sight of classic Broncos roaming the asphalt and rugged terrain have by no means been rare occurrences during the decades since the brand was shelved and this has no doubt been a factor in the Bronco’s impressive staying power. Sure, there weren’t any new Broncos being made for an awfully long time, but those previous generations definitely helped keep the brand’s momentum going. A tremendous amount of credit also has to go to the Bronco Underground, that group of intrepid Ford employees so dedicated to the rekindling of the Bronco that they worked on it during their downtime and even negotiated for scarce floorspace to bring their vision to fruition.
Because of thoroughly unforeseen circumstances — no one plans for a pandemic, after all — Ford’s timing for its Bronco launch couldn’t have been more problematic. There have not only been Covid-related delays, but also issues with at least one of Ford’s suppliers and, as this post is being written, we’re even in the middle of still another setback — this time due to a shortage of “undisclosed parts” that are apparently unrelated to the computer chip crisis that has rocked the entire automotive industry.
And yet, despite all these delays, 66% of the reservations placed for the Bronco have been converted to actual orders. That’s an outstanding percentage under any circumstances and it becomes even more impressive when you consider that the Bronco was to be released quite a while ago, leaving plenty of time for those anxious buyers to reconsider and withdraw their reservations out of frustration.
All this pent-up anticipation could have set things up for a big flop while rendering the new Bronco as just another overhyped novelty model. These seemingly endless delays, combined with previously unproven hype, could have been a recipe for disappointment, so when Ford recently lifted its embargo on reviews stemming from its press junket at the Bronco Off-Roadeo location outside of Austin, Texas, there was a lot riding on the Bronco delivering on its promise.
The Bronco Delivers the Goods
Luckily for Ford, it did. Not only were the subsequent reviews overwhelmingly positive, but they were also multi-faceted in citing the various areas where the Bronco excels. The Bronco’s retro-futuristic design had already impressed many, including one decidedly very hard to impress automotive designer, Frank Stephenson, who has his own YouTube channel that’s largely focused on critiquing designs.
Some reviewers were impressed by the refined driving experience the Bronco provides — this is definitely a pivotal factor, since even hard-core off-roaders are going to find themselves on the asphalt more often than not. Some journalists cited the Bronco’s impressive agility when taking on rough terrain, while others focused on the Bronco’s inspired use of easily-activated technology — its G.O.A.T modes and readily detached front traction bar were especially well-received. Ford’s inherent wisdom in allowing the coveted Sasquatch package to be added to even the base-level Bronco was definitely a recurring theme.
The bottom line is that the Bronco consistently impressed a notoriously difficult audience on a number of levels and there were few shortcomings cited — the exclusion of Sport mode on the top-level Bronco First Edition did come up and that one is still a bit of a puzzler.
Few would be more qualified to assess the Bronco’s off-roading prowess and render an opinion on whether it's either the real deal or an overhyped new release than Loren Healy. As a multiple King of the Hammers winner and five time Ultra 4 Champion, he’s demonstrated an unusual level of skill in extracting the most out of a vehicle under very challenging circumstances — King of the Hammers combines desert racing and rock crawling.
Check out this video of Healy putting the Bronco through its paces.
It’s a Surprisingly Good Value in Today’s SUV Market
While the term “value” may not be a term you would normally associate with the Bronco, it’s a valid one. And not just because, as we’ve previously mentioned, Ford is allowing buyers to combine the base-level Bronco with the Sasquatch package to arrive at a formidable off-roader that will come in at just over $35,000.
On the whole, SUVs are rapidly increasing in price. This holds true not just for relatively high-brow models like the Land Rover Defender, but also for the Toyota Landcruiser, which carries a hefty $85,000 MSPR, as well as a host of other models in that segment. By contrast the Ford Bronco offers magnetic retro looks, as well as proven off-road agility and a surprising level of comfort that makes it well-suited for weekday commuting — and it comes in at just over $60,000, even if you were to opt for the top-tier First Edition. Of course, that’s assuming that the Bronco First Edition will be available anytime soon. A $60,000 price tag is certainly consequential, but that’s not an exorbitant sum for a premium SUV in this day and age.
We do have to offer one disclaimer at this point. We’re purposely not factoring in what would seem to be plenty of inevitable dealer markups resulting from the Bronco’s outsized number of orders combining with the aforementioned series of delays to create an unusually pent up demand. By all indications, Ford won’t be able to catch up any time soon, so there won’t be any deals on the Bronco to be had in the near future.
So, by all the indications that matter, it looks like Ford has a definite winner on its hands. A number of factors have converged to heighten the excitement for the new Bronco, and its combination of refined driving experience, off-road agility and well thought out technology should keep its sales momentum at a high point for quite a while. Ford's new SUV is certainly getting plenty of ink these days, but by no means is the Bronco overhyped.