Ford unveils the Bronco mid-size SUV in the USA
After piquing the interest of enthusiasts at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, followed by teasers on social media, Ford has finally unveiled the Bronco SUV in the USA at prices starting at $29,995 (approximately Rs 22.6 lakh, excluding taxes). Available in both two-door and four-door variants, the Bronco is aimed squarely at off-road enthusiasts, just as its predecessors that were last sold in 1996. Ford says the Bronco lineup will go into production by early 2021, and will hit dealerships soon after.
At first glance
Right off the bat, the Bronco apes the look of its predecessors, with the full-width grille up front integrating the headlights. Along the upper corners of the fenders are raised black ridges or ‘trail sights’ for off-road drivers to easily discern where the corners of the vehicle are. Moving to the sides, and you'll notice the ORVMs are attached to the side panels (and not the door), a boon considering the doors can be taken clean off when going off-roading.
Speaking of which, Ford has designed the Bronco for those who prefer the open-air experience. The doors on both the two- and four-door models are frameless, so they can be stowed easily. Next, the two-door models come with a standard three-section roof system – left and right front sections and a rear section and an available premium painted modular top with four sections with removable panels over the rear seats and cargo area. Meanwhile, the four-door models have four removable roof sections – left and right front panels, a full-width center panel and a rear section. Roof panels on all models can be removed easily by unlocking the latches from the interior.
Under the hood
The Bronco packs either a 2.3-litre in-line four or a 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 engine mated to either a seven-speed manual or a 10-speed auto ’box. While the smaller 2.3-litre engine makes 266bhp of power and 420Nm of torque, the larger 2.7-litre engine makes 306bhp and 542Nm. Just like its predecessors, the Bronco has been developed as an out-and-out off-roader. To that end, it gets up to seven driver-selectable modes, including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, with Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-road driving. Two 4X4 systems are offered on all Bronco models, a base setup and advanced 4X4.
The base system uses a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case, while the optional advanced system features a two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode for on-demand engagement to select between 2H and 4H. Power is distributed to a solid rear axle and an independent front differential unit – both with electronic locking differentials for improved traction over rough terrain.
In stock form, the Bronco offers a 295mm ground clearance, with a 29-degree breakover and a 37.2-degree departure angle, coupled with a water-wading capability of 891mm.
Further, Ford offers a suite of exclusive technologies to elevate the the Bronco’s off-road experience. This includes Trail Control – essentially cruise control for low-speed trail driving, while Trail Turn Assist tightens the off-road turning radius through torque vectoring, and the innovative Trail One-Pedal Drive acceleration/braking control makes for more precise and confident slow-mode rock crawling.
Lastly, true mud-plugging enthusiasts can get their Bronco, straight from the factory, with massive 35-inch tyres!
Stepping into the Bronco and our eyes immediately fall onto the instrument panel inspired by the previous-gen Bronco, with easy-to-read gauges and controls made of rugged materials with off-road functionality clearly in mind. Attachment points are built into the top of the instrument panel to mount a mobile phone, GoPro camera or navigation unit, with 12-volt power connections also on offer.
The centre console consists of a 12-inch infotainment screen up top with the gear shifter/transmission selector and GOAT controller between the seats. The infotainment system is capable of over-the-air updates and can be paired with the FordPass Performance App with off-road navigation – an exclusive feature that allows owners to easily plan, navigate and share their off-road adventures.
As with most focussed off-roaders, the Bronco gets grab handles integrated into the instrument panel and centre console, while the seat backs get Molle hooks (hard-wearing nylon mesh webbing) which are ideal for attaching carabiners. And lastly, to make post-adventure cleanups simple, select Bronco models come with washable rubberised floors with integrated drains and marine-grade vinyl seating surfaces that resist mildew. The instrument panel surfaces are wipeable as well, with silicone rubber on the dash-mounted hero switches protect against dirt and water.
As mentioned, the Ford Bronco goes on sale only next year, and that too in the USA. Chances of it getting here are remote, especially considering Ford has scaled back its plans for the Indian market. There’s also the fact that since previous generations of the Bronco were never on sale in India, the particular model does not have the recall value to entice SUV lovers. However, in the million-to-one chance the Bronco does come to our shores, it’ll go up against the Jeep Wrangler.