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Is The New Bronco Worth Converting To? A Jeep Owner’s Take

Is The New Bronco Worth Converting To? A Jeep Owner’s Take


By @Laura #1976

My Jeeps are impressive –– to some people. Not a lot. Neither the general public nor mainstream Jeep owners look on them with satisfaction. One is vintage. The other is lifted. Friends doubt the safety; short family members struggle to get in. Both have quirks, war wounds … and plenty of rust.

But to a girl who loves the deep outdoors, values independence, and is OK with a lack of custom, they are beautiful, and they are glorious. So, if they are all that to me, why am I planning on stabling these old workhorses, leaving the brand, and buying a Bronco?

The Vehicle Backstory

I’m undoubtably loyal: For nearly 15 years, I’ve only had Jeeps. Second-gen Cherokees, to be specific. The XJ make and model was my first owned mode of transportation, and as much as I also wanted it to be my last, it’s not looking possible. I’m still going strong, having 40-some more years of driving to do, but since the old Cherokee body style ended production in 2001, the remnants are not. Anything mechanical can be fixed, but dealing with body restoration is a pain.

Knowing I was working off borrowed time, the last several years have had me promising an upgrade in vehicles. Having wanted a TJ years back but not being able to afford one at the time, I first considered Wranglers, even though I felt that much of the spirit has long left the brand. I thought about a Subaru as a compromise then dismissed the idea soon after I had it. I even test-drove some Chevys. But I always came back to liking my boxy buckets the best. I figured I’d just have to find some way to keep them alive … possibly forever.

Thankfully, the agenda changed once I heard the Bronco was coming back. I had found a match in capability, functionality, and aesthetic.

I Like What I Like

As some of you know, I recently joined the Bronco Nation team as a contributor. There are a couple elements that have brought me to this point in my life:

One: books. My mom really liked Little House on the Prairie. So much so, that my name choice was influenced by Laura Ingalls Wilder herself –– that, and the 80s. Autonomous, barefoot, untamed, and somewhat unconventional, Laura modeled how I wanted to live … and I think, almost for sure, she would have been into 4×4 vehicles.

Two: vacations. I’ve seen much of Michigan, having lived in the forested Great Lakes state nearly all of my life. Every family vacation was done up north, going camping or staying in cabins. It might sound dramatic, but I live for fresh air, and rivers and woods are my desired home.

Three: a mechanically minded family. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the garage. I was my dad’s fill-in brake-bleeder and socket-hander. He taught me to drive on ice, and Bob Bondurant was a household name. Changing my oil feels relaxing and having a degree of vehicle troubleshooting knowledge –– from starters and alternators to fuel pumps and heater cores –– is comforting. Knowing when my IAC has failed and being able to replace it has turned vehicles into something much more than a way from point A to B for me.

Now, as an adult, I’ve become someone who has no choice but to live an outdoor adventure life, while having a special, off-road capable vehicle to help me do so.

Putting It Together

So, while I’m undecided on the specifics (leaning toward 2-door Badlands but haven’t acted yet), I can already tell that Ford has given me my next means around town –– and into the wild. Here’s why I’ll be picking a Bronco.

The Bronco Is Made for Adventure
I’m my happiest being active, and if it’s in places you can’t get with two-wheel drive, all the better. Whether it’s kayaking, primitive camping, or hiking trails — the further the fun happens from civilization, the better. I don’t want to be tied to the pavement or worry about getting stuck in snow, and I definitely like being able to tackle the trail.

Few will deny the new Bronco is great off road. It’s going to be a little shy on cargo space from what I’m used to, but it will easily get me where I want to go, stock or not.

The Bronco Is Reliable
I am no stranger to breakdowns, despite plenty of loving care and preventative maintenance on my Jeeps. My ‘89 Cherokee has close to 400k miles, and my “new” one is 21 years old. It’s going to happen occasionally. And once you’ve lost a driver’s-side front wheel on the expressway (yeah, fine, that one was about 22% avoidable), pretty much anything will feel more trustworthy … let alone a new vehicle meant for my lifestyle.

Having paid cash for my vehicles, picking up a monthly payment for a brand–new one isn’t something I’m excited about. Many months over, repairs and maintenance have cost me more than a grand, however. I’m used to spending money on my vehicles, and a $510+ payment is within my budget. Plus, since I haven’t ordered yet, I have time to save.

The Bronco Brand Is Legendary
I gravitate to things with history, good materials, and a story. For years, I frequented Jeep forums, making long-term friends as I planned my build and got more familiar with the off-road life. I appreciated the shared ownership and community participation that came with a legacy brand.

By switching to a Bronco, I know I’m not losing anything: The name carries an impressive past, and the engineering efforts have been solid. As for community –– getting to participate with Bronco Nation has already shown me how much I have to gain.


  1. Thank-you for sharing, Laura. I think a lot of us feel this way. When Bronco went HUGE, that left anyone with serious off-roading to consider the huge Bronco or the Jeep Wrangler (I know there are other 4X4s, but let’s face it…in the US it comes down to two vehicles that we want to consider). I have always loved the look of the small Broncos but was never in a position to purchase one. I have owned two Wranglers. The 2021 Bronco leaves them all behind in my opinion and I can’t wait to take my Bronco out for some fun.

    1. Which ones, out of curiosity?
      I know the Rubicon is capable these days, but after Jeep started rolling out the Compasses and Patriots, I felt sad, and the 2007 era, with the switch to JKs, was not it for me visually. Obviously, they are a business, and those where the kind of changes people wanted (plus, tons of Jeep owners view the XJ as “not a real Jeep” too, so I don’t know how much room I have to talk!). But it started changing my mind and making me feel like they were no longer going to perform like the old ones. I’m really excited by the Bronco, and it’s going to be some time before I have one, but I think they are off to a wicked-strong start.

  2. Laura, thanks for sharing your story. As I began to shop for my RAV (Retirement Adventure Vehicle) I really wanted a Wrangler or Gladiator but I could not pull the trigger when I saw the Bronco. I was really attracted to the Jeep community but I needed something that I could daily drive. One thing that I have really been thinking about since I saw a Bronco in person is the integration of all the systems. Look forward to more of your writing and hearing your Bronco story.

    1. Thank you for reading, and we’re going to need to hear about the retirement adventures with your Bronco! The community is one of the best parts of either the Jeep or Bronco brand –– instant access to people who love what you love.

  3. Admittedly, I will be another one to jump to the Bronco. I have owned my JKU for 11 years and 220k miles now. It’s served me well and I have been everywhere in it. I had the opportunity to work on the Bronco as a supplier and fell in love the first time I seen the body in white rolling around on carts in Dearborn. It’s well on its way to steal a few other Jeep loyalists. Great read and thanks for the admission… haha. I will get in line in early 22’ to get my Badlands SAS!

    1. Jeep treated both of us well, from the sounds of it, for sure. I don’t see myself getting rid of Jeep completely (three vehicles for one person is excessive, but I like the whole heir and a spare thing I have going on), but I’m so excited for the Bronco – you’re right; the look is great.

  4. She was a Cherokee owner. That is very different than a Wrangler. I am switching from my 2nd wrangler to a bronco when it arrives so I’m not biased. Just saying that a wrangler owner comparison would be much more meaningful.

  5. I too share you enthusiasm for the Bronco, I owned for a couple years an old 69 3 on the tree Bronco, and fell I love. I was waiting for a years worth of road tests and reviews for my own sources to actually go out and purchase one. My thing now is as I went to the ford dealership 2 weeks ago and the Broncos on hand looked like a Jeep Liberty and nothing like the ones I have viewed for the past year. Are all of them like that or do I need to special order it with all the upgrade, pricing it out of my budget? The GOAT feature and so many things have me enticed, but I for the love of me cannot buy a stock Sport model.

    1. Yes, and I hear you! The Sports are much different in size than the full-sized Broncos but still incredibly capable. I’ve been watching reviews of it against similarly sized vehicles, and it keeps winning out (in most areas other than fuel economy). Depending on what you planned to spend, you could get a full-sized Bronco Base 4-door ($33k) for a similar price as the most beefy Sport, the Badlands ($33k), which only comes in 4 doors. The 2-door full-sized Broncos are of course less.

  6. I ordered a First Edition Bronco because of the memories I had with my teenage girlfriend in her father’s “80’s Bronco. I am not a 4×4 guy, but she left enough of an impression that I spent $70K, 30 years later. I’m ready to see if the new memories are better than the old ones. Side note, I couldn’t afford this toy for a random experiment back then!

    1. Yes, I’m glad as well that the Bronco is coming out at a time it’s more affordable to me. If I can wait a couple years to find what I want used, that would still be the dream, because depreciation is not fun. Otherwise, luckily, both Jeeps and Broncos hold their value well, and I clearly keep my vehicles until the end.

  7. Agree it’s really not a good comparison for someone switching from a Cherokee, especially since a Subaru was in the same conversation 🙂 (I owned and loved my Subaru for 220K miles)
    For me the Bronco and the Wrangler are such extremely similar vehicles I don’t think there will be huge switches from Wrangler to Bronco. I’m sure plenty will want to try something new but that will be early on. In my case, I’ll keep my TJ, JLU and be adding the Bronco this summer. I’m anticipating the Bronco will be a better on-road vehicle and can’t wait to pit it against the Jeeps off-road. Just need a way to get all of them to the trails at the same time!

    1. I said I dismissed it as fast as it came in! Give me my credibility back please, ha! That’s a sweet lineup, DWNSTH.

  8. I love jeeps- I think sometimes people mean different things when they say that- for me I have owned 4 CJ5’s, 2 CJ7’s, and 2 CJ8’s. I ordered a 2021 bronco the first day- I am going with a 4 door OBX, 2.7L , SAS. Like many of you, I usually pay cash for vehicles, but again like many of you I plan to keep this as long as it runs so I am not as concerned about the depreciation. My current daily driver has 200k and I am looking forward to having a new vehicle that will meet all my needs. I have sold off some jeeps as I prepare for my new Bronco- I am excited about being in both communities. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Thanks, Art; gotta love CJs. I’m impressed you could part with some! But I agree, from just SEEING the Broncos in person, sitting in one, and watching them in action, I’ve been more than satisfied. The visibility alone is something I’ve not yet found in another vehicle, and I hate the feeling of being surrounded by dashboard — glad Bronco succeeded there.

    1. Thank you for reading, Anthony, and commenting. It’s proving to me again exactly my closing –– that community is what makes the off-road/outdoor space amazing in either brand. Appreciate you all.

  9. Great read! I too am an XJ dude, and this was the perfect comparison. But I will be keeping my XJ. I only have 165000 on the clock and I have factory cooling upgrades through the tow package that was offered back in the day solving one of the biggest issues. I think I’m gonna do a restomod and bring it in line with the modern age. Good luck and happy trails with your new Bronco!

    1. Oh yeah … only 165k? You’ve got plenty of miles to go; hopefully you’re in a southern state! The restomod sounds like a great way to go; have fun with that!

  10. I traded my Wrangler in for the First Edition Sport. Reason being – the Wrangler sucks on the highway. Not only is it extremely noisy, but takes a beating from the wind. I have a Harley for that! 😂 We also have a SXS for playing in the desert. I love my Sport, and don’t miss the Jeep…or “The Jeep Wave.”.

    1. Nice choice. I know what you mean about the noise –– at a certain point, you just want to be able to take phone calls in your vehicle and actually hear the person on the other side!

  11. Cool read.

    I, too, am a Jeep convert. I currently own 2 lifted 4-door Jeeps (JK and JL). My teenagers drive them. I’ve also had a TJ, YJ, and a CJ in past lives.

    In all honesty, I’m tired of seeing 20 of them before I leave my neighborhood. I saw the early Bronco renditions, and I decided I had to have one. Just finalized my order for a 4-door Badlands with all the goodies.

    For anyone else in Northern Florida who takes delivery of a Bronco, please don’t wave at me. Lol.

    1. Grady, you’ve got some lucky kids! It was vans for me as a teen. Kidding, though; I’m incredibly grateful I got to drive anything, let alone a safe, well-maintained vehicle. Then I graduated college and went for the junk Craigslist find, bought sight unseen from five states away. I rarely see anyone duplicating that Jeep of mine, ha. Hopefully you have plenty of time before all the neighbors have your Bronco, but they’re probably going to want to copy you 🙂

  12. Hey there Bronco nation,

    I too am a convert but I’m converting from being a long time toyota fan and recently in a colorado zr2. Constantly having to fix design flaws with either custom or aftermarket parts, while fun to build, it takes away from the essence of the vehicle. I believe that the Bronco really highlights that essence of off-road, and pairs it with a touch of elegance that no brand currently has. A true go anywhere adventure vehicle. Ford has done something special with this one and I’m excited to move towards that. The factory capability I believe is unmatched with the ability to customize and and bring individuality to the vehicle is really amazing. I can only hope it runs and drives like they say it does. And if it does then my kids and I will be able to have a wonderful platform to make our own. Looking forward to great things. Badlands with the 2.7 is in order.

    1. Great to hear your backstory, Mark. I agree, Ford really went for it with the factory capability. At first, I was ready for something that didn’t have to be modified, but after seeing some of the aftermarket parts starting to come out, I think that plan is shot! Making it your own is a big part of the fun. Enjoy yours!


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