2021 Bronco 2-Door Advanced 4x4

2021 Bronco 2-Door Advanced 4x4

Test Drive Notes Library
  • Pros

  • A breakthrough. A first drive in the Bronco reminds us the revelation of driving the first Mazda Miata in 1989. For years before that, if you wanted a British style roadster, you had to drive an MG, Triumph, Fiat, or Alfa. That meant unreliability, electrical gremlins, parts falling off, the body rusting through, and never knowing if your car would start. Then Mazda came along and gave us all the positive attributes of those sports cars with astounding reliability. Well, up 'til now, if you wanted a retro-style, rugged off-road vehicle in a normal human's price range, you were limited to a Jeep Wrangler, which is an absolute mountain goat on trails, but which drives like a Conestoga wagon on the highway — which is where most people drive, most of the time. Now you can get a Bronco.
  • On road improvements. The on-road driving dynamics of the Bronco are night and day compared to the Jeep. And this is Ford’s major breakthrough, in our opinion. It’s comfortable, handles well, doesn’t dart around on the highway, and even allows you to relax at higher speeds. I’m guessing that when the folks at Jeep took a ride in a new Bronco, their first words were “oh, s—t.”
  • Looks. Ford absolutely nailed the looks of the new Bronco. It looks like a Tonka toy, especially the our test car’s school bus yellow (actually called “Cyber Orange Metallic Tri-coat"). It looks squared off, rugged, and cool. From the driver’s seat, you see two “sights” on the hood, helping you guide your rig through the woods or, more likely, into your favorite parking spot in front of Starbucks. Judging from the amount of parking lot interest, the Bronco is going to be in serious demand from dads who no longer think their Honda Pilot gives them enough separation from Minivan-land.
  • Interior. Ford did a very good job on the inside of the Bronco. It’s not upscale in any way, but it’s well done. The largely flat dashboard and instrument panel lays out the controls well. The screen is well placed, high up in the center where you can see it easily. Controls are styled, like everything else on the Bronco, to be Bronco-ish, but they are ergonomically good, and easy to use. The materials are on the cheaper side, but that sort of fits the style — rugged basics.
  • Off road. We’re actually going to leave this evaluation to people who use their vehicles off road. We don’t, unless you count the Best Buy parking lot. But we will pass along Ford's claims that their new Bronco can match the Jeep. But even if it only does 90% of what the Jeep can do off road, that’s still 90% more than most people will ever use.

    The Bronco has a variety of electronically controlled “modes” that adjust the accelerator inputs and the all wheel drive system for different terrains like sand, snow, and boulders. Most people will just drive their Bronco in the default “Normal” mode. But the “Slippery” mode that dials back acceleration in snow and slush should be helpful in on-road bad weather. There’s also a cool thing that happens in “Rock Crawl” mode where a view of the underside of the front of the vehicle pops up on the screen, so you can see exactly where your front wheels are — if you’re off road and can’t see where the road goes from over the hood. It might also be useful if you’re parking next to your neighbor’s prize pansy bed.

  • Great total package. The Bronco has nailed the rugged, retro-look that suggests you spend your weekends climbing rocks and panning for rare earth battery materials. But you don’t have to suffer for it, like you do in a Jeep Wrangler. The interior is modern, and the ride and handling are surprisingly good, especially in the four-door Bronco. We’re guessing there are lots of people who’ve been waiting for a vehicle with these attributes, and we’re guessing Ford will sell a lot of these.
  • Cons

  • 4-door vs 2-door. We drove the four-door Bronco briefly when it was first introduced, and our test drive this week was in a two-door model. Get the four-door. The two-door model is the Jeepiest of the many available Bronco options. While still better than the Jeep on road, the two-door Bronco’s shorter wheelbase gives up some comfort and handling, and makes the back seat harder to use. Our test car also came with gigundous tires, making the Bronco a true pants-splitter to get into. A four-door with reasonably sized tires is definitely the way to go. Don’t worry, it’ll still look plenty cool.
  • Wind noise. You can’t build a car shaped like a pizza box and not expect wind to have trouble flowing over it. And in the Bronco, wind did exactly what you’d expect it to when it hit the straight upright windshield. It made a whooshing sound. It got a little fatiguing on the highway.
  • Engine noise. Our test Bronco came with Ford’s very capable 2.7L V6 and its 10-speed automatic transmission. While the engine gave the Bronco all the power it needed, we were a bit surprised at how loud the engine got on moderate to hard acceleration.
  • Rear cargo door. Because the Bronco has its spare tire stylishly mounted on the rear cargo door, the door has to open from the side, rather than up like most modern SUVs. This can be inconvenient if you’re parked in a tight space. It’s also heaver to open than most lift gates. The door also has to open far to get out of the way of the rear window, which opens up. That said, there’s adequate room in the back. And if you’re just looking to slide in some grocery bags, you can do that with the rear gate open 30-45 degrees.
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