August 3, 2020

We are told that people aren't interested in cars anymore. In the next five minutes, smooth, quiet, emotionless electric motors will soon power autonomous pods rendering internal combustion sports cars a thing of the past….or so we are told. Occasionally though, a new car is launched that transcends automotive news and captivates people outside of the automotive community. Sometimes this car isn't electric or autonomous, or a hypercar made of unobtanium. It's old school, simple, unique, and encapsulates what people love about cars. The new Ford Bronco is one of these cars.

The 2021 Ford Bronco brings back a historic name for the Ford Motor Company and uses it to enter the retro SUV segment competing against the established Jeep Wrangler and the recently resurrected  Land Rover Defender. Like the new Defender, it has retro styling evoking the iconic aesthetic of its ancestors. Like the Wrangler, it has a rugged simplicity to its modular architecture with removable roof and doors and is designed to easily integrate overlanding accessories. This is very important because the Bronco is slated to be hugely capable off road. Ford claims best-in-class wading depth, ground clearance, and approach, departure and breakover angles. 

The Wrangler is clearly the main target for the Bronco. In addition to its modular design and rough and tumble attitude, it has a similar approach to off road capability. Where Land Rover’s Defender utilizes air suspension and highly sophisticated computer programs to make the Defender an exceptional offroader, Jeep and Ford use a much more conventional setup. Both the Bronco and the Wrangler use a solid rear axle paired with independent front suspension. Unlike the Wrangler however, the Bronco can be had from the factory with 35 inch tires with the optional sasquatch package… yes you read that right and  is even available with a unique seven-speed manual transmission with a granny gear. 

It is this back-to-basics approach that is so compelling about the new Bronco.  

Aside from the Wrangler and now the Bronco, trucks like this don't really exist anymore. Aerodynamic standards mean that boxy styling is falling by the wayside and fuel economy regulations are pushing manual transmissions out of favor. But buyers still desire these in their cars. Of course the Bronco is so new that nobody has driven it yet, but with a solid rear axle and 35 inch tires, it's fair to speculate that the driving experience will be raw and truck-like. If it's anything like a Wrangler to drive, the Bronco will probably have a bouncy ride and wandering steering and that's okay… in fact it's more than okay… it's awesome. The reason it's awesome is because it gives the Bronco something most normal SUVs don't have; Authenticity. 

Most SUVs try to look sleek and use high end materials in an attempt to feel and look like cars just with higher driving positions. The Bronco doesn't appear to hide anything. It is simply what it is, which is quite endearing. The Bronco takes pride in its simplicity because it fits into what it stands for: ruggedness, adventure, and off-road capability. Buyers of the new Bronco aren't just buying a vehicle; they are buying a lifestyle, a lifestyle of adventure. The Bronco is supposed to feel like a truck in the traditional sense and bring a little bit of Rubicon Trail to the school-drop-off line. People want this Tonka truck driving experience and now the Wrangler isn't the only choice. How the new Bronco drives and how it sells remains to be seen but, it certainly has the potential to be exactly what people want… old school.

Author - Drew Crowley