Ford Bronco Off-Roadeo Not Just A Test Drive

AUSTIN, TX – It’s hard to explain the appeal of extreme off-roading.

It’s popular with young people who don’t mind the 99 degree heat (common here in the summer), insects, snakes, angry fire ants and slowing down when the rest of the world wants speed. Mix in heavy rain to create mud puddles that smell more rank with each passing hour, and you’ve got the perfect date – for some people.

For those hard-core types, Ford’s resurrected and completely redesigned body-on-frame Bronco is here to challenge the Jeep Wrangler, which up until now has literally owned the Wards Small SUV segment on its own.

But the Bronco (seen, on the left, in the rearview mirror) was arguably the first SUV when it launched in 1966, years before the term was attached to large family haulers that never left the pavement.

So how is this race for sales in the United States going, when Ford faced supply problems last year that delayed some Bronco deliveries? The numbers for the full calendar year don’t tell the whole story: 204,610 Wranglers versus 35,023 2- and 4-door Broncos, according to data from Wards Intelligence.

More telling, however, is the last three months of 2021, when all 35,023 Broncos were delivered, compared to 39,900 Wranglers for the same period. It looks like a battle.

It’s worth noting that the Ford Bronco Sport, which launched earlier and is certainly more rugged than the Ford Escape from which it’s derived, tears it into Wards’ small unibody-based CUV segment, where 20 high-volume entries clash.

In its short time on the market, the Bronco Sport has taken the No. 3 position, with 108,169 deliveries in 2021, trailing only the No. 1 Honda HR-V and No. 2 Subaru Crosstrek, while edging out the popular Chevrolet Trailblazer, Hyundai Kona, Kia Sportage and Nissan Kicks, among many others, show data from Wards Intelligence.

As a staff, we’ve spent a lot of time behind the wheel of 2- and 4-door Broncos in various trim levels, and it’s obvious what it’s all about: the retro styling, the all-weather interior, the folding- folding or removable roofs, protruding fender flares, industrial rims, five massive studded wheels (including one proudly mounted on the rear hatch) and GOAT modes (to go over any type of terrain).

Marketing a vehicle like this is not the same as the method used to move Mustangs or F-150s.

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Prepare to be muddy with the doors closed.

Instead, Ford has invested heavily in a new concept known as the Bronco Off-Roadeo, where customers can experience the thrill of putting a wheel 2 feet (61 cm) off the ground or rocking the body up. almost rolling. , or slamming the steel skid plate so hard on a massive boulder it’s felt in the spleen, or scaling an intimidating rock face that appears as vertical as the Bronco’s vertical windshield.

Over the past year, Ford has opened four Off-Roadeo locations (Moab, UT; Gilford, NH; Mount Potosi near Las Vegas and here on Texas hard terrain near Austin), and more than 11,000 owners and Bronco order holders have visited the rugged locations for something that’s more than just a test drive.

Plus, salespeople from Ford dealerships nationwide came to learn more about the vehicles and how to sell them – not just specs and trim levels, but more than 200 factory accessories to back up the result. net. There are more than 30 Jeep Jamboree events taking place coast to coast this year, so Ford has plenty of Bronco brand building to do.

The Off-Roadeo experience is all about the Bronco, sure, but equally important is immersing yourself in a culture that celebrates the outdoors with barbecues, nighttime stargazing by the fireside, and board games. lawn like the cornhole, the king of hammers and learning the lasso. a goat.

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Everything is possible in Bronco, tuned to spotter.

You could say that tearing up the countryside on a 4-wheeler isn’t exactly communing with nature, but course managers say they make sure to minimize environmental impacts.

It’s part of capturing the off-road experience, all under the watchful eyes of trained observers standing precariously close to a vehicle’s front bumper, trusting the driver to do exactly as he says. – “turn right, now left, a little more, brake, give him some gas.

Follow the instructions and the Bronco will not disappoint. You might blow a tire—as happened here by a test rider—but the spotter will usually avoid serious damage to the exterior body panels and undercarriage.

On the road, with its independent front suspension, the Bronco is comfortable to drive and is even reasonably quiet, depending on tire selection (big 35s are available).

Two remarkable EcoBoost engines spin the wheels – a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder developing 275 horsepower. (the same as in the Ranger) and a 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 with 315 horsepower, both directly related to Wards 10 Best Engine winners in recent years. Engines are mated to a 7-speed manual (4-cylinder only) or 10-speed automatic.

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GOAT modes at the driver’s fingertips.

Early in the launch, the sales mix leaned towards the 4-cylinder, and about two-thirds of early customers were expected to choose the 4-door Bronco.

There’s a Bronco for every purse and every purpose, from a $28,500 base model to a $56,915 First Edition, and between trim levels known as Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, and Badlands, not to mention the Sasquatch package available.

Regardless of trim level, the Bronco relishes seemingly insurmountable challenges whether the doors or roof are on or off. The mechanicals make the difference, from the locking front and rear differentials and the torture-tested suspension to the front sway bar that can disconnect for better articulation and ride comfort.

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Marine grade vinyl in the Bronco Badlands edition.

Obviously, it’s not about fancy stuff in the Bronco: Marine-grade cloth and vinyl seats are standard in lower trims, and that’s only with Outer Banks trim and above. only leather is on offer, as is adaptive cruise control (but not stop-and-go), forward sensing, a 360-degree, 12-inch camera. (30 cm) Sync 4 infotainment system.

Standard on all models is an 8 inch. (20 cm) Sync 4 infotainment screen, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, hill descent control and rear view camera. Available driver assist technologies include lane keeping and blind spot detection, but lane centering isn’t offered at all, nor are cooled seats.

Ford ended production of its previous Bronco in 1996 – just when the SUV craze was about to take off, oddly enough – so Bronco loyalists eagerly awaited its return. Now they keep the Wayne, MI assembly plant running as long as there are enough parts and semiconductors.

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Bronco is causing a stir in the market.

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