Pondering How You'll Configure Your New Ford Bronco? Here are Some Considerations
It’s a little hard to believe, given the endless array of delays that Bronco production has experienced, but the first batch of new 2021 Broncos has left the assembly line — though a big portion of this run will be destined for automotive journalists to put through its paces before rendering their opinions. That being the case, the gap between the enormous influx of Ford Bronco orders and the actual units produced to meet this demand has finally started to close and there will even come a time when the delay between ordering and order fulfillment will no longer be the months or years-long ordeal it is right now.
So, with these encouraging developments on the horizon, you might well be formulating your own plan for getting behind the wheel of this ultra-coveted SUV — maybe you’re even starting to consider just how you’ll configure your own Bronco. Here are some factors to take into consideration.
2-Door or 4-Door?
This is a consideration that was never an issue with previous iterations of the Bronco. Sure, there have been some aftermarket fabrication wizards -- Maxlider Bros., for example -- who have created some truly impressive takes on the model in an elongated, 4-door form, but in factory trim, the Bronco has always been a 2-door SUV. This time around, it’s a different ballgame and putting a 4-door Bronco in your garage is very much on the menu — and so far, plenty of future Bronco owners have opted to do so. Roughly one year ago, 60% of orders were for the 4-door Bronco, and that percentage has only increased since then.
Will you be hauling around a lot of passengers? While both renditions of the Bronco offer a level of interior spaciousness that’s suited for the weekday commuter needs of most drivers, there’s no doubt that an extra set of doors will make getting in and out a lot easier. The 4-door version also holds the advantage of being able to accommodate an extra passenger (it’s rated at five passengers vs. four for the 2-door Bronco), so it’s definitely more family-friendly.
And, while both Broncos offer similar accommodations for passengers, where interior storage space is concerned, the 4-door Bronco also comes out ahead, just as you’d expect. While Ford’s rugged 2-door SUV provides 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space and just a little over 52 cubic feet with the seats down, the 4-door beats it by 12 cubic feet with the seats up and a substantial 22 cubic feet with the seats down, assuming you plan on leaving the removable doors in place and not stashing them in back.
Is Off-Road Agility a Big Priority?
From all indications so far, Ford has taken all the right steps to equip the entire Bronco line with plenty of prowess off the asphalt — even the Bronco Sport has surprised some automotive journalists, who tend to be a bit on the jaded side. According to Ford’s own specifications, there isn’t a lot of daylight between the two versions when it comes to those measurements we most commonly associate with off-roading ability, but the 2-door Bronco does eke out a small win when all things are considered.
Assuming both Broncos are equipped with the 35” tires that come with the Sasquatch package, the 4-door Bronco matches the 2-door’s 43.2 degree approach angle and is only a fraction behind it as far as departure angle (37.2 vs. 37). As you’d likely expect, the 4-door Bronco’s longer wheelbase serves to decrease its breakover angle, which measures a vehicle’s ability to negotiate an angled peak in its path without scraping its undercarriage, so the 2-door beats it by nearly 3 degrees here (29 to 26.3).
If negotiating rough terrain will make up a big part of your future plans, there are a couple of other things to consider. The 4-door Bronco rolls on a wheelbase that’s almost a foot and a half longer than the 2-door (116” vs. 100.4”) so it’s going to have a little more trouble negotiating extremely sharp hairpin turns. And, as we generally associate a lighter curb weight with increased agility, it’s worth noting that the 2-door Bronco generally comes in leaner than the 4-door, although the margin isn’t quite as substantial as you’d expect. While the 4-door peaks at just under 5,000lbs in Black Diamond configuration, the 2-door generally comes in between 4200-4700lbs.
4 Cylinder vs. 6 Cylinder
The old adage, “there’s no replacement for displacement” has been around nearly as long as cars, themselves, and it largely holds true. It seems only natural to want more displacement, since that generally leads to more power and we all know what we would say when confronted with the question, “Would you like more or less power?”
Ford, of course, has known what that answer would be all along. Despite plenty of clamor to include a V8 — such as Ford’s own potent Generation 3 Coyote engine — in the Bronco arsenal, the auto manufacturer declined to do so, citing today’s stringent emission controls. And, while Ford has accurately lauded the abilities of its Ecoboost engines, at the same time it’s also been exploring a number of avenues to equip the Bronco with more power in the future. The increased power now available in the Bronco’s chief competitor, the Jeep Wrangler, has no doubt gone a long way toward prompting this pursuit.
But in the end, this aspect really does come down to your own priorities. As Motor Trend reported a while back, both the 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder Bronco engines pack more of a punch than first anticipated — especially with the use of premium fuel. As it turns out, with that higher octane at your disposal, the Bronco’s 2.3 liter 4-cylinder Ecoboost engine is good for 300 horsepower and 325lb-ft of torque. While these numbers understandably fall short of the 2.7 liter V6’s 330 horsepower and 415lb-ft, they’re more than enough to provide plenty of future hours of exhilarating motoring.
Here’s Another Factor in the Equation
There’s also the accompanying transmission to consider. Many off-roaders are traditionalists at heart and believe that a manual transmission is the only proper way to navigate through the gears. If you fall into this category, then the 4-cylinder is going to be your choice, by default. Ford’s game-changing 7-speed manual transmission is only available with the smaller powerplant and this transmission is pretty darned compelling — its 6.588 to 1 crawler gear ratio will provide plenty of torque control while navigating difficult terrain behind the wheel of a 4-cylinder Bronco.
Then again, as we’ve pointed out in previous posts, even though there’s undeniably plenty of value packed into the equation, the price tag of a new Bronco likely means that it will have to perform as both weekday commuter and weekend fun machine for most buyers. And if your commuting routine puts you in a lot of daily traffic, which is probably the case more often than not, Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission becomes a lot more appealing. Sure, for decades a manual transmission was associated not only with better overall control of a vehicle’s performance, but also with flat-out better acceleration, but times have changed and technology marches on.
While there’s been some pushback on Ford’s decision to use the 10R60 automatic transmission in the new Bronco, which is generally perceived to be less heavy-duty than the 10R80 transmission found in the Mustang GT, it’s worth noting that many perceive the 10R60 to shift both more quickly and more smoothly — and that’s really saying something. As Motor Trend discovered a few years back, an automatic Mustang GT is substantial quicker from 0-60 than its manually-equipped counterpart.
We’re now at a point where a well-engineered automatic transmission can shift more quickly than a human driver can and the automatic’s four extra gears mean you can stay closer to peak horsepower and torque while exploiting the engine’s powerband to the fullest extent.
Of course, we’re not trying to equate the performance abilities of a Bronco in any current configuration to that of its Ford muscle car stablemate — the Mustang GT carries up to 480 horses and is substantially lighter than the Bronco, after all. But this comparison does illustrate just how far automatic transmissions have come and the outstanding level of performance they will provide as part of a Bronco’s featured drivetrain.
So, there’s plenty to consider, and luckily the time is fast approaching when that consideration will lead to configuring just the Ford Bronco you’ve been waiting for. In our next post, we’ll take a look at the various trim levels for the 2021 Bronco and see where each stands as far as giving you the configuration and components you’re looking for.