Home Latest News The 2021 Ford Bronco: One Drive Is All It Takes
The 2021 Ford Bronco: One Drive Is All It Takes
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The 2021 Ford Bronco: One Drive Is All It Takes

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After visiting Ford’s Bronco media event in Horseshoe Bay, Texas on June 22-23, I want a Bronco. Bad.

Up until now, my general stance has been that I will get one –– in time. I’ve publicly voiced my desire for the Bronco here while quietly telling myself I could wait 3+ years for a used one. After all, when you’ve been driving a $500 Jeep for the last 13 years and enjoying it, could any vehicle really be worth depreciation? Bronco Nation, I was wrong. The all-new Bronco is it for me. And I would like nothing more than to have a brand-new MY21 or ’22 off the lot. I’ll even happily wait for a ’23 if necessary.

Let me tell you what changed my mind from “I’ll get it when I can” to “I’m way overdue to order.”

You Think You’re Ready? You’re Not.

I’ve been fortunate to get some solid interaction with the Broncos already. Over the last several months, I’ve prowled their exteriors in person, scoured the design details of the interior, sat in them, drove in them … and loved every second. I knew this would be the SUV to replace my Jeeps. This is one fun vehicle, capable and comfortable, too.

But can I say this? Seeing them is cool. Riding in them is fun. Driving them short distances has been a treat. But none of that prepares you for taking them off road in depth. That’s what shifted my plans from “the near future” to “now.”

The Ford Bronco Drive Week

With production underway and Broncos beginning to be delivered, it was time for Ford Motor Company to bring in the press. Media outlets gathered in the Austin area for two-day shifts with the Bronco. We started at the Fair Market, where we could explore models and shoot trim details.

Next, Ford walked us through short sets of presentations by various team members integral to the launch –– names with which the Nation is well-versed. You’ll be familiar with many of the details as well, but every time I attend a Bronco event, I find myself wishing each and every one of you in the community were there too. Plus, I don’t think we tire of hearing the story from those who helped piece this launch together. The excitement and dedication they put into making this vehicle one we’ll all enjoy is evident every time I listen to them.

Mark Grueber, U.S. consumer marketing manager, kicked things off by sharing his part in the “Bronco underground,” simply to demonstrate how long this come-back has been in motion. However, without those lunchtime meetings and after-work hours put in of their own accord, we wouldn’t be here, so close to sixth generation ownership.

We rotated to Jiyan Cadiz, North American passenger vehicle communications manager, who reminded the media of Bronco’s tenets: capability, open air ability, customization, simplicity, and authenticity. These were the reasons that interested me in the Bronco back at launch, and the same ones that have hooked a flood of other fans too, from Early Gen owners to conquests. The original Bronco’s spirit was captured, and appetites were whetted: 75% of 2021 Bronco customers are new to Ford.

Eric Loeffler, chief program engineer, went over the suspension and drivetrain. In keeping with the only fully 4×4 brand in America, Ford designed the Bronco to do business on road and off. He covered the IFS suspension, the hydraulic stabilizer bar disconnect that one-ups Jeep’s electronic option, the midsize truck platform and monotube position-sensitive damping shocks, as well as the air induction path. The flow starts at the upper driver’s side corner of the grille and ends at the induction box on the passenger side. If mud and water were to make it that far, a trapdoor will release it out the bottom. The side air curtains are another protection feature of the Bronco –– this time for passengers. Slow rollovers won’t deploy the curtains, but trigger points activated during fast rollovers will, helping keep occupants from harm.

Mike House, SUV program manager, discussed the modularity, and Paul Wraith, chief designer, was eager to explain the human-interest aspect of the Bronco: This is a vehicle built for you, off real-life stories, not made-up customers.

Lastly, Esteban Plaza-Jennings, brand manager, brought up Ford’s desire to make this a vehicle that can be optioned with top components on even the lowest trim, such as the Sasquatch package on a Base.

Time to Drive

We were then able to pick out a Bronco to take on a two-hour road test, from the market to the Sandy Creek Marina, and on to the Horseshoe Bay Resort after. I grabbed the 2.3L 10-speed Black Diamond, wanting to test out a more basic trim. However, more basic did not mean it was lacking. I was impressed by the 4-cylinder engine: Our route was filled with elevation changes, but they were no problem for the Bronco. There was no noticeable body roll, and the handling was solid through the curves and turns. Additionally, it’s one of the first vehicle designs I’ve come across that mimics the few blindspots of my XJs, a feature I’ve been committed to not giving up in my search for a replacement SUV. Other than the much more responsive pedals and lower clearance of the Bronco vs. my 2000 Jeep, I felt immediately at home in the vehicle and thrilled by its performance on road.

Once at our destination, we turned over the keys –– something I think we were all sad to do ––and headed over to the Texas Off-Roadeo location. There, we could go through the ORX course, drive competitors’ vehicles on road (no comparison), and spend time with the dozens upon dozens of Broncos and accessories.

The next day was trail time. Three action-packed courses in varying levels of difficulty and practically every type of terrain were where my mind started locking in my order. We swapped vehicles for each trail, and I was able to take out a mix of 2- and 4-door Broncos in Wildtrak, Badlands, and Outer Banks. I experienced both the 2.3L and 2.7L engine, but always the automatic transmission. Some of you know I’ve planned to secure the Badlands, mainly because I want options, am not a high-speed off-roader who wants Baja mode, and like the stabilizer bar disconnect option on Badlands. Interestingly, however, the Wildtrak had me guessing if Badlands really was the trim for me. Even still, I could see myself owning nearly any trim and being happy. It’s hard to go wrong with Bronco … and it may even be impossible.

As you all here at Bronco Nation know, the technology works like a dream, and for me, the 360 cameras took the most getting used to, simply because I drive vehicles without even a backup cam. Once I got used to remembering they were there, I enjoyed having them. Trail Control was a convenient feature as we snaked the trails, one I liked more than I expected. And after recent rain, hitting those front and rear locker switches when appropriate let us leave a lighter footprint on the trail. It’s just one more of the features Ford has made so easy to use in the Bronco.

The Countdown Is On

Driving short distances in the Bronco has been enough to convince me it has a great design and handling. Riding in the passenger seat of the vehicle with teammates, Shelby Hall, and Brad Lovell (I jumped at the chance to ride with him on the Fun-Haver course) would make anyone’s day. But taking it off road yourself will change the game, even for the most already-ardent order holder. If you think you love the vehicle now, just wait. Everything pales once you’re behind the wheel.

See videos and articles from all the news outlets present, and discuss them in the forums!

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Comment(23)

  1. Great write and after going through multiple write ups from the press and watched their videos I’m like you chomping at the bit metaphorically speaking. Thanks!

  2. Not to one up you but I am trading my 95 Wrangler no rust 4.0 5sp. I like basic, and to that end ordered a base w/2.3n auto , switches and the SAS package.
    Ordered an owners manual and the Service CD. After plowing through all 572 pages of the manual I can say this is the F1 car of the off road world. I like tech and I imagine it will take some time to learn and master all the available features of this car. I’ve asked Ford Racing to send me the spec and hardware list for the 4600 which I now consider the ultimate upgrade.
    What concerns me is why a USA molding company has not stepped forward to make the tops. I think Ford should institute the old grass roots process and put 50 little guys’ in place instead of some “megalith” company. I remember working for Wiend Power and racing back in my youth. Those guys got stuff done.

    1. Please do, Croyco! Love hearing others’ stories and opinions. Sounds like you have an excellent build coming. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the tops, too. I’m eager to see how that part plays out.

  3. Great story, am appreciative of the insight and the enthusiasm – just wish the rest of us reaching the end of the saturation point of bad news had the opportunity to have our enthusiasm rejuvenated as well- look but don’t drive event in Albuquerque. What I do not understand is, what is going on with the “Project Management” of this rollout/production/delivery of this fantastic vehicle? Ford in the past has been way ahead of the competition in this area, always, so am at a loss here. When the Pandemic hit last year and a shortage of masks quickly became a focal point of need for the front line folks, Ford went into production immediately to fill that need, BZ (ref: Navy for “Great Job”.) Massive restructure ahead of the “others” back about 2006 when the others had to take Federal Bailout money, thus no help needed. In WWII, Ford express shifted from automobile production to war essential production, i.e. Jeeps, to answer that need. So why in the world is Ford stumbling so badly here in identifying its long lead materials and parts and obtaining solid sources for those items – this does not take months to do, really. In Albuquerque, NM, Intel has put a long idle plant back to work making “chips”. To the point, plastic tops are not a complex component, engines are for example, and to have that item delaying production delivery is simply poor PM practice – not a representation of Ford’s historical “Can Do” (ref: Navy CBs) attitude and practice. There are more deadly sins to an order than a black MIC (because we can’t have the cool Modular promised until when), but the point is made… that this debacle and communication blackout to the degree of working from tidbits and rumor is a significant wet blanket. My enthusiasm is waning; I do not want to compromise on my build – it fits my needs, but only if delivered by late this year with winter in the high country of NM the driver – reality sucks. Communication would help here, but I have only my order receipt from Ford, the rest of the tidbits and rumor from Bronco Nation. My dealership is in the dark too. If compromise is going to happen, then I will look to fill my need with something as close as possible to that – a Ranger Tremor maybe. It is apparent to me Ford is floundering with an email, finally received an hour ago, that in short said ‘Keep your chin up…” Maybe it is time to move on since the news is never improving but seemingly always about further delays and problems. This is the other side of the coin.

    1. Black&Blue, thank you for the detailed comment and thought behind it, and thank you for choosing to serve. I hear you on the need for enthusiasm rejuvenation; I hope those whose spirits are lagging can hold out, because this vehicle is worth it because of the community that comes with it. I also understand that people don’t know what’s going on, which is why we try to take every rumor with weight, hint from others in the know, and fact and pass them on here. Ford sends regular comms to dealerships, and we do our best to help delineate them since the dealers have a lot to go over as well.

  4. Love your very well written article and sharing your Bronco love story with those of us who have also been waiting. Ford should hire you.

    1. Ha, I’d do double duty of Bronco Nation and Ford (wiggles eyebrows). Only to bring us all closer and give the fullest information, though! Thank you so much for reading, Rock Biter. I appreciate your support. It’s a scary time to publish 😉 I’m glad when I can bring some measure of happiness or help to our community.

  5. Hi Laura, Great Article! So excited now! Our 2 door Big Bend is in Production this week. Not sure when it will be delivered but we are definitely thrilled to hear everyone likes the ride!

    1. Thank you for reading, Jeanette! I’m excited for YOU. That’s awesome news; let us know how much you love it once you have it.

  6. Ford made it through WW1, WW2, Polio. Congrats to the UAW men and women wrench turners who are back on the job.

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