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.