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Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range

Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range Ford shows off new Bronco 4x4 range
Rugged and capable, the new Ford Bronco may be, but it can't cross the Atlantic...

Let's get the disappointment out of the way with first - the all-new Ford Bronco, Ford's rival to the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender, isn't coming to Ireland. Sigh.

Then again, perhaps that's not surprising. The Bronco enjoys icon status in the US, but here in Europe, it's primarily known for being OJ Simpson's attempted-getaway vehicle. Rather more heroically, Keanu Reeves drives a sixties original Bronco, briefly, in Speed, but that's probably the limit of most European Ford fans' experience of a Bronco.

A rival for the Wrangler and Defender

What is it? Well, it's not an SUV, rather it's a serious 4x4 and off-roader, in the mould of the Jeep Wrangler. In fact, it's actually built on a traditional separate-chassis-and-body basis, like an old Land Rover Defender.

The benefit of that construction is a combination of ruggedness for off-roading, and the easy ability to swap different bodies onto the same chassis. Hence the new Bronco comes in both four-door and two-door forms, and with a choice of soft-tops and hard-tops.

"We created the Bronco family to elevate every aspect of off-road adventure and equipped them with class-leading chassis hardware and exclusive technologies to raise the bar in the rugged 4x4 segment and take people further into the wild," said Jim Farley, Ford chief operating officer. "They're built with the toughness of an F-Series truck and performance spirit of Mustang - and come wrapped in one of the most stunning and functional off-road designs that's true to the original Bronco design DNA."

At the heart of the Bronco is a switchable four-wheel drive system that should give it exceptional off-roading ability - crucial, as Ford is aiming the Bronco right down the throat of the Jeep Wrangler. That's backed up by an electronic assistance system, called GOAT. That stands for Go Over Any Terrain and is rather like Land Rover's Terrain Response system. Up to seven driver-selectable modes are offered including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, with Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-road driving. There's even a choice of four-wheel drive systems - a basic version, and a more advanced version with an electro-mechanical diff that allows the system to automatically select between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.

There are other off-road add ons, including Trail Control (rather like cruise control, but for off-roading), Trail Turn Assist (which brakes outside wheels to tighten the turning circle), and Trail One Pedal Drive, which tries to combine accelerating and braking into one pedal for more precise off-road control.

A serious off-roader

It gets serious off-road credentials thanks to a maximum 29-degree breakover angle and a 37.2-degree departure angle, plus there are hefty steel plates protecting the underside of the car.

More importantly, you can take the doors off. They're relatively light items, with frameless glass, and they're said to be easier to remove than the doors of the Jeep Wrangler. In the four-door model, they can even be stored in the boot when not wanted. There are also little panels in the doors that can be popped out so that you can look down through them for more precise off-roading. Or just to keep your ankles cool.

The Bronco's engines, for now, are a 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo, or a 2.7-litre V6, both petrol engines. Gearboxes are either a ten-speed automatic, or a new seven-speed manual, which is really a six-speed 'box with a super-low 'crawler' first gear.

Inside, the cabin throws obvious references back to the flat, simple interior of the original Bronco, but this one comes with a choice of eight-or-12-inch touchscreens and a special rack on the dashboard that makes it easier to attach items such as mobile phone holders or GoPro camera. There's a 360-degree camera system and over-the-air software updates.

SUV-ish Bronco Sport

Oh, and remember how we said that this was a serious, no-nonsense off-roader? Not quite. There is a third model, the Bronco Sport, which isn't mechanically related to the two-door or four-door Bronco. The Sport is, in fact, an SUV, using the same chassis as the Ford Kuga and Escape, but with a Bronco-style body on top. It's basically designed for those who fancy the style of the Bronco but need more on-road comfort than off-road ability. It comes with standard four-wheel drive, and the GOAT terrain response system as the bigger Bronco, and gets its power from a choice of 2.0-litre or 1.5-litre turbo petrol engines. Ford says that, while it's clearly less overtly rugged than the Bronco, the Bronco Sport is still practical, able to swallow two big mountain bikes in the back. "Bronco Sport has the toughness and smarts to help turn off-road novices into 4x4 pros," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer. "Bronco Sport embraces the needs of outdoor enthusiasts - every inch of it was designed and engineered with weekend adventurers in mind."

There is the faintest chance that the Bronco Sport could, thanks to its relationship with the Kuga, make it to this side of the water, but for now, alas, all three Broncos will remain firmly on the wrong side of the Atlantic, for us.


Published on July 14, 2020
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