By Andrew Murphy
Ford has confirmed a leak from last month that the transmission in the 2021 Bronco is the 10R60, not the 10R80 that many believed was the choice for the all-new Bronco.
While some Bronco fans and enthusiasts have posted in forums that the 10R60, the same transmission in the Explorer, may not be adequate, Ford officials have told Bronco Nation that there should be no concerns.
Many fans had anticipated that the new Bronco, which will begin deliveries later this month, would carry the 10R80, the same transmission that is in the Ranger, which is built in Wayne Assembly on the same line as the Bronco. Too, the Bronco is built on the same platform as the Ranger.
However, the reasoning behind Ford’s choice to use the 10R60 rather than the 10R80 seems solid. Firstly, the Ranger is equipped with the 10R80 solely because the 10R60 did not exist in its current state back when the Ranger was in development. While the 10R80 may have some advantages in certain applications over the 10R60, the Ranger was not equipped with the 10R80 due to its more robust design. Rather, Ford used it because it managed to meet the towing, payload, and GVWR of the Ranger during development.
Secondly, the 10R60 is a newer, more efficient transmission that is perfectly at home with either of the Bronco’s engines. Bronco Brand Manager Esteban Plaza-Jennings told BN that the 10R60 is more than capable of handling the Bronco’s power output, as the trans is rated at 406lb-ft with the 2.3L engine and 424lb-ft with the 2.7L engine. For reference, the 2.3L engine is projected to produce 310lb-ft of torque, while the 2.7L will produce 400lb-ft.
The 10R60 is also 29lbs lighter than the 10R80, which has reduced parasitic losses and a lower internal mass provides a more efficient transmission.
Ford also raced a stock Bronco, equipped with a 2.7L engine and the 10R60 trans, in the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally where it finished a respectable third place.
“Baja mode was especially helpful in this terrain,” says Bronco Engineering Manager Jamie Groves. “It keeps shift points at just the right RPM to keep the turbos spooled up, so power is there when you need it, and brakes are more aggressive to slow quickly for rough terrain.”
All in all, Ford looks to have made a thoroughly researched decision regarding the Bronco’s automatic transmission choice, with no loss of capacity for the Bronco’s towing and payload numbers.
Let’s take a look at Bronco’s new manual transmission, something which enthusiasts have been very excited to test out.
Pre-orders on the Bronco show an 18% take rate on the seven-speed manual transmission. Plaza-Jennings believes the take rate will settle in a little lower than that over the course of a few years of production since the hardcore Bronco fans and stick-shifters will have accounted for a large number of pre-orders. The unique Getrag seven-speed manual transmission can only be paired with the smaller 2.3L engine. The inclusion of a manual option for the Bronco makes it one of just three vehicles that Ford currently offers with a stick –– the other two being Mustangs.
For comparison, the take-rate for manual transmissions on the Jeep Wrangler has been about 30%-35%.
Although it’s marketed as a seven speed, it’s fair to say that the new MT88 transmission is really a six speed with an additional crawler gear. The seventh gear is responsible for the dogleg shift pattern of the MT88 where it’s located down and all the way to the left. Rock crawling fans will appreciate the addition, which Ford lists as having a 6.588:1 gear ratio.
About 60% of Bronco customers who have pre-ordered opted for the 2.7L engine rather than the smaller 2.3L, meaning that the majority of buyers forgo the manual option in favor of the increased power from the 2.7L. This data suggests that around half of the 2.3L Broncos will be stick shift.
Bronco Sport owners don’t have quite as many choices when it comes to transmissions, as Ford only offers a single eight speed SelectShift automatic transmission for the Sport. However, Sport owners who spring for the larger 2.0L engine have the option to add paddle shifters to their build.
Andrew Murphy lives in Richmond, Virginia, and works in auto industry marketing and social media. He also wrenches on his cars, including a Jeep Wrangler until he can take delivery on a new Ford Bronco.