Does the new Bronco live up to its name plate?


Mark Valgos (9th), Reporter

Does the new Bronco live up to its name plate? From off-road capability to on-road driving characteristics, a lot has happened since the 1965 Bronco first rolled off the assembly line. 


To start off with the suspension and drivetrain, the 2021 Bronco has independent front suspension, great for on-road comfort but severely limiting in the articulation needed for off-road. In the rear, however, Ford got it right by putting a solid axle. It has coil suspension both front and rear, adding suspension travel as well. However, the first and second generation Broncos did have solid axles front and rear, which is great for articulation but not as good for on road performance. I think many people are sad that Ford did not bring this feature back.


But what about the 1995 Ford Bronco? The 1995 Bronco also boasts solid axle rear suspension for articulation, but it has its own version of independent front suspension as well. This makes sense due to the Bronco being made as a road-comfortable alternative to the Jeep CJ7 and YJ being made at the time. 


As for power plants, the 1995 Bronco had two options, a 5.0L v8 and a 5.8L v8. These options offered about 200 hp at 4000rpm and 270lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm. A respectable amount at the time, especially for the relatively lightweight vehicle. On the other hand, the new Bronco has a turbocharged 2.3L 4-cylinder engine pushing out 300hp and 325lb-ft of torque, along with a turbocharged 2.7L V6 that makes 330hp and 415lb-ft of torque. In this category, the oldest Ford Broncos won, followed by the 2021 Bronco and the 1995 Bronco bringing up the rear. However, it is important to note that the 2021 Bronco weighs over 2,000 pounds more than the 1995 Bronco, meaning that the extra power made by the engine may just be used to compensate for the heavier vehicle.

Fellow freshman Marc Sousa asks, “Why did they do away with the V8? What are the benefits of this swap?” I’m quite sure that you’re not the only one wondering this, and Ford will have to answer for it eventually.


For gear ratios, arguably the most important thing in an offroad vehicle, the “old” Bronco has a sad 1st gear ratio (low range 4wd) of 2.64, better than street cars but not the greatest gear reduction. The new Bronco fully stock isn’t much better though with a 2.72 low range gear ratio, also in 1st gear. As a benchmark, the leading off road vehicle available right now, the Jeep JL Wrangler Rubicon, has a transfer case ratio of 4.10 before axle modifications. The main difference is that the new Bronco has options to get it that low, it’s just expensive.


How about interior comfort and of course tech? The 2021 Ford Bronco has a screen and terrain management modes, everything is automated and there is bluetooth. The 1995 Ford Bronco does not have any of these things. This can be seen as a pro or a con, but in my opinión this is just one more thing to malfunction and cut your trip short. On the other hand, I’d like to stick to the more mechanical layout of older off-road vehicles such as the 1995 Bronco. 


As for comfort, however, the new Bronco takes the cake. It is more spacious, and it is even offered in a 4-door model. The leather seats of the 1995 Bronco are not as comfortable as modern day seats, nor as fun to sit on when it’s hot. In this category the new 2021 Ford Bronco would win, but I’m not sure how much this affects offroad performance. 


Now, arguably the most important thing for an offroad vehicle, I’m going to be looking at approach and departure angles. These are pretty self explanatory, it is the angle of object you can theoretically climb and depart from without bottoming out. I will once again be comparing both to the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon as a benchmark. 


The new Bronco has an approach angle of 43.2 degrees, almost equal to the Jeep Wrangler. The departure angle is 37.2 degrees, also almost exactly the same as the Jeep Wrangler. The “old” Bronco, however, has 37.5 degrees of approach, nothing to scoff at but not quite as impressive as the 2021 model. It also has a measly 23.4 degrees of departure, due to the rear overhang created for more storage. 


Overall, it seems that the new 2021 Ford Bronco would definitely make its mark on most trails, but it was obviously optimised for on-road driving characteristics. The original Bronco was marketed as a rugged off-road vehicle that performed well on-road, but it seems the marketing style is opposite for this new one. I’m sure it will make an incredible off-road vehicle once people start modifying them and making them their own, but it would be all the harder due to the new tech and how new the vehicle is. 


The Bronco has simply evolved from a rugged workhorse vehicle to an everyday vehicle similar to any other SUV, much like the Jeep Wrangler has. In mentioning the Jeep Wrangler, freshman Marc Sousa believes that the Ford Bronco could possibly upstage the Wrangler as an offroad vehicle due to the “shorter wheelbase” and possible “lighter design.” Only time will tell which one comes out on top.


Stock to stock, I do not think that this new Bronco lives up to its nameplate. It is not as capable off-road, much harder to modify, and would likely take more than a toolbox with some sockets to get running right, and I’m not the only person who thinks so. Freshman Marc Souza remarks that when given the choice between a 1995 Bronco and a 2021 Bronco both in pristine condition at an equal price, he would take the “1995 Bronco immediately, there is a lower availability and the value will continue to increase.” And aside from just that, your reliability will likely be higher with the older Bronco.


 Unfortunately, The new Bronco may not have upthroned its predecessor just yet, but I’m quite sure that Ford will work very hard to make sure it does.