The all-new Ford Bronco is designed to stick it to the Jeep Wrangler with serious off-road capabilities.
The Jeep Wrangler is not impressed and is far from having said its last words.
The new Ford Bronco is an event that joins the on-going show that is the Jeep Wrangler. Off-road and truck enthusiasts rejoice.
The 2020 Jeep Wrangler is, or was, the indisputable king of all things away from the beaten path. The all-new 2021 Ford Bronco is here, not entirely but nearly, to discredit the Wrangler and take away its crown. Does it have what it takes to do so? Here, we compare all available specifications between the 2021 Ford Bronco and 2020 Jeep Wrangler.
Passions are running wild at Ford and FCA. The story of the new Bronco began roughly two years ago but now, finally, the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco is here. This whole time, one must believe that FCA’s Jeep has been preparing for the arrival of its first real rival since the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Although quite niche in their real purpose, these trucks have proven to be extremely popular with urbanites, small families, countryside-dwellers, males and females alike.
The current JL-generation Jeep Wrangler is a clear sign that the “Jeep” is no longer destined solely for off-roading. Never has a Wrangler been more civilized, refined, and luxuriously (true words!) appointed. What’s more, Jeep has expanded the Wrangler family in the last 12-18 months to include not only the fantastic Gladiator, but an EcoDiesel engine option, and there’s far more to come.
The 2021 Ford Bronco has much to live up to. Like the Jeep, its legend is forged in off-roading, durability, capability, and nostalgia for simpler times. The new Bronco is in fact three Broncos that are designed to cater to various needs and desires, from the daily family commute to scaling the Rubicon trail…
This is the rekindling of another wonderful automotive rivalry that runs as deep, if not deeper, than the Dodge Charger vs. Ford Mustang from the original pony-car era.
For this specification comparison, we will compare what we know about the 2021 Ford Bronco 2- and 4-door (exclude the Bronco Sport) to 2020 Jeep Wrangler (excluding the Gladiator).
What is the pricing and when will they be available?
US pricing for the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport 2-door starts at $28,295. As we know, the Wrangler is also available as the 4-door Unlimited and the Gladiator pickup. At the moment, there are four powertrain possibilities, with more to come according to FCA. A 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara with the 3.6-litre V6 with eTorque and 8-speed automatic transmission is priced at $43,990. A fully-loaded Wrangler Unlimited High Altitude with EcoDiesel, Sky One-Touch power top, and other options is over $57,000.
In Canada, the base 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport 2-door’s pricing starts at $38,190. Here too, buyers can opt between the three body configurations. The same 2020 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara with the 3.6-litre V6 with eTorque and 8-speed automatic transmission retails for $52,580. Top trims differ between the US and Canada. A loaded Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon with EcoDiesel, Sky One-Touch power top, and few other options easily comes in at over $72,500.
As for the 2021 Ford Bronco, in the US, the base 2-door model starts at $28,500. There are six trims, excluding the First Edition (which is sold out). The middle-ish 2-door Outer Banks trim is priced from $38,995. The 4-door version starts at $41,450. The top 2-door model, the Wildtrack, is $48,875, $51,370 for two extra doors.
In Canada, the 2021 Ford Bronco 2-door starts at $40,499 while the 4-door starts at $45,749.
The first deliveries of the new Bronco 2-door and 4-door are expected in early 2021. The Wrangler is yours for the buying right now.
Which Has The More Efficient Powertrains?
Given that the current Jeep has a 2-year head start on the Ford, it’s understandable that there are, for the moment, three powertrain to select from. The most common is the Pentastar 285 horsepower 3.6-litre V6. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard. This same engine can feature FCA’s eTorque mild-hybrid technology which includes an 8-speed automatic transmission. There’s also a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder (also available with eTorque) unit, good for 270 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, exclusively delivered with an 8-speed autobox. Finally, there’s the turbocharged 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 that produces 260 horsepower and 442 lb.-ft. of torque.
In the not too distant future, it seems as though Jeep will also add a 6.4-litre V8 engine good for 450 horsepower,450 lb.-ft. of torque. At the opposite end, it appears also that Jeep will launch a Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid variant later this year.
Fuel consumption for the Unlimited with the 3.6-litre and the 6-speed manual transmission is rated at 17/23 (city/highway) mpg. With the automatic and eTorque, the numbers change to 19/22 mpg. Canadian data is not very specific, unfortunately. The Wrangler’s towing capacity is set at 3,500 lbs.
In the new Bronco’s corner, Ford will put a pair of EcoBoost engines to work. The 2.3-litre 4-cylinder will be standard and deliver an expected 270 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. Optionally, the 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 should provide 310 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. A 7-speed manual gearbox will be offered, as will an optional 10-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel consumption values are unknown. Towing figures are not known either however we expect that they will at least match the Wrangler’s 3,500 lb capacity.
Which Offers The Most Standout Features?
To stand out between these two is to offer the most off-road-ready equipment possible.
The Jeep’s basic full-time Selec-Trac 4×4 System can automatically switch from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive when needed. The Command-Trac 4×4 system can deliver torque to all four wheels for maximum traction when required. It also features a 2.72:1 low range for rock crawling.
The Wrangler Rubicon is the most off-road capable version and includes a Rock-Trac 2-speed transfer case with 4:1 low range, Tru-Lock locking Dana differentials, 33-inch tires, a dedicated suspension, 10.8 inches of ground clearance, front disconnecting stabilizer bar, massive off-road tires and more. With the manual transmission, the Rubicon delivers an 84:1 crawl ratio. The Wrangler’s water fording capability tops out at 30 inches.
The Bronco’s base 4×4 system uses a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case. The optional advanced 4×4 system has an auto mode which means it can shift between 2WD and 4WD modes on-demand. The latter will feature a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid rear axle and Dana independent front differential, both with available Spicer Performa-TraK electronic locking differentials.
The 7-speed manual (6+1) models that are paired with the advanced 4×4 system with automatic on-demand engagement will benefit from a class-leading available crawler-gear ratio of 94.75:1. Furthermore, the Bronco will be offered with up to 11.6 inches of ground clearance while the maximum break-over angle is of 29 degrees and the departure angle stands at 37.2 degrees. The Bronco’s water fording capability is of up to 33.5 inches and, out of the box, it can be equipped with 35-inch tires.
Clearly, the new 2021 Ford Bronco is up to the task and won’t necessarily follow a Wrangler off-road…
What About Styling?
In no uncertain terms, Ford killed it. Unlike the 2021 F-150 where Ford was timid with the visuals, the Bronco is a perfect blend of modern touches and nostalgia-inducing traits from the truck’s first and most appreciated generation.
The front fascia is instantly recognizable and is only one element that puts the Bronco somewhere between cute and uber-rugged. Both the 2-door and 4-door get oversized tires, fender flares, and the right amount of unique cues including available painted steel wheels, or 18-inch alloy wheels, and the bumpers. Perhaps what is coolest is that the Sasquatch is optional on all trims, even the most basic Base model.
The Sasquatch package includes 17-inch black-painted aluminum Beadlock-capable wheels with 35″ LT315/70R17 BSW Mud-Terrain tires, electronic-locking front and rear axles, 4.7 Final Drive Ratio, high-clearance suspension, position-sensitive Bilstein shock absorbers, and high-clearance fender flares. This is a must.
The Jeep Wrangler is also quite the looker. Its classic lines, distinctive grille, and unique to Wrangler styling may not be novel at this point but take a moment to glance at our review of the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Review. In Ocean Blue, it’s still quite attractive.
A Wrangler Sport does not have the same visual impact as a Bronco Base but given that the Ford should be quite popular, it may become a “common” sight.
How important are these vehicles for their respective brands?
The Jeep Wrangler is Jeep, but not 100% Jeep. In other words, it’s the brands poster-boy for capabilities, and rugged good times. And this will never change however the burden of supporting the SUV company also falls on the Grand Cherokee’s shoulders. In fact, there will be far more riding on the next-generation Grand Cherokee than the Wrangler.
The Ford Bronco is a different animal. Specifically, the 2-door version will likely conquer a number of SUV enthusiasts’ hearts, and these sales will be bonuses. It’s possible that the 4-door Bronco will take deliveries away from the Explorer and remember, rumour has it that the Edge’s days are numbered. The 4-door’s role will evolve in time and may become a key player in Ford’s larger SUV plans.
The full impact of the return of the Bronco will be measured with the Sport. The compact SUV should be the Bronco to bring volume to Ford’s table. This too will be a scenario to keep track of.
Our Thoughts On The 2021 Ford Bronco and 2020 Jeep Wrangler
Many may have doubted that Ford would take the new 2021 Bronco this far but clearly, they’ve gone and stuck it to Jeep. The Bronco’s visual appeal, in all its forms, almost make it endearing. And Ford’s made an effort to mix in many lifestyle aspects as well as more than 200 factory-backed accessories. As we know, accessories make the truck.
The Wrangler is an undying soldier that will never back down. Its legend continues to grow and expand. Specifically, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, “should” it be produced, will introduce a whole other dimension to the off-roader. The same goes for the 4xe PHEV version.
The 2021 Ford Bronco has undoubtedly captured our attention and piqued our interest. We remind vehement fans of the Wrangler but we really want to know more about the Bronco.