Engine: 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Torque: 415 lb.-ft.
EPA rating: 17/city, 18/highway, 17/combined
Base price: $42,095
As tested: $56,150
Overview: The question we’re most asked about the Ford Bronco is how it compares to the Jeep Wrangler. Having first driven the Bronco at Mudfest — the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s national off-road competition event — we weren’t impressed. Competing head-to-head in two categories, the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 won the honors in both. But driving the Bronco again in our regular review rotation overcame the negative first impression. The more we drove it, the more we liked it. There are multiple trim levels, each with outdoorsy names — Big Bend, Black Diamond and Outer Banks. We drove the two-door Badlands, and this review focuses on that model.
Walkaround: Built in Mexico, the Bronco’s styling reprises the old Bronco’s square ends, tall roof and heavily cladded bumpers. The side profile is no-nonsense flat with flared fenders and large, open wheelwells. The Bronco and Wrangler have multiple similarities — rugged, boxy designs with round headlamps. Both brag on their off-road capabilities and beefy off-road suspensions. Both even have removable roofs and doors. But the similarities end there.
Interior: The interior has a retro throwback appeal — but impressive up-to-date technology, including a touchscreen interface with Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment. Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are standard, as well as numerous available state-of-the-art safety systems. The Badlands has rubberized flooring and marine-grade vinyl seats that can be easily hosed down when needed.
Behind the Wheel: Our Badlands test-driver featured the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6, delivering 330 horses and 415 lb.-ft. of torque managed by a 10-speed automatic. Ford’s electronic engagement 4-by-4 system features on-the-fly swaps between its high-ratio four-wheel and two-wheel-drive modes and can automatically switch between them with its automatic/on-demand setting. At Mudfest, we tested all vehicles on a handling course and an off-road course custom-built for the event at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton. The Bronco easily aced both. Road-tripping it to Leavenworth over Blewett Pass and back, the ride was smoother than anticipated — in spite of 33-inch off-road tires — and pleasant overall, with sure-footed handling and strong braking.
Bottom Line: The Bronco’s street manners don’t come at the expense of any off-road capability. It’s every bit as capable as the Jeep in the vast majority of off- and on-road situations — with the Bronco more comfortable as a daily driver.