Riding Shotgun, 2021 Ford Bronco Impresses

The Bronco Sport shows it can handle tough terrain, including sharp drops and steep inclines. In the body-on-frame Bronco Four Door, the passenger seat offers a good feel for the interaction of the suspension and solid rear axle.

Joseph Szczesny

August 18, 2020

3 Min Read
Bronco Sport water_jpeg
Bronco Sport driven on off-road course Ford set up at old gravel pit outside Detroit.Ford

Even though Ford bills its 2021 Bronco Two Door and Four Door as the most capable off-roaders, the automaker also expects its unibody Bronco Sport to challenge Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep brand as well.

The Bronco Sport shows it can handle tough terrain, including sharp drops and steep inclines, on an off-road course Ford set up in and around an old gravel pit outside of Detroit.

The actual driving was left to Ford test drivers, but the rugged runs underscore Ford’s capability of building a 4-wheel-drive vehicle with an independent suspension at the four corners that can tackle challenging terrain.

The independent suspension did not falter on the Bronco Sport when it climbed rocks, traversed loose sand or crossed a stream along the makeshift course.

The Bronco Sport is equipped with Ford’s SUV Terrain Management System with up to seven mode choices. They help drivers negotiate various inclines and conditions.

Standard modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand. Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes are available on Badlands and First Edition versions.

Also available is a cruise control-like setting of up to 20 mph (32 km/h) forward and 6 mph (10 km/h) in reverse for off-road controlled throttling and braking, allowing the driver to focus on the terrain.

An exclusive front camera with lens washer provides extra visibility of what’s ahead. That’s shown on a center stack-mounted screen.

Bronco 4 Door black_jpeg - Copy.jpg

Bronco 4 Door black_jpeg - Copy

The user experience in the Bronco Sport features a SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-in. (20-cm) touchscreen and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Available is Ford Co-Pilot360 with Pre-Collision Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking featuring Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, Auto High Beam Headlamps and a rearview camera.

In addition to the Bronco Sport, Ford provided a ride in the body-on-frame Bronco Four Door (pictured above), which deftly traverses steep hillsides and rocky trails. 

The passenger seat offers a good feel for the interaction of the suspension, the solid rear axle and the ground clearance. 

The solid rear axle gives the larger Bronco a stiffer ride over rocky terrain but coupled with the 11-plus ins. (279 mm) of ground clearance, it helps make the vehicle seem nimble when the going gets rough. 

The heavy-duty rear axle layout, which is fortified with coil springs and Bilstein dampers, provides a solid platform for traveling over loose sand and gravel.

Two 4x4 systems are offered on all Bronco models, a base setup and an advanced version.

The base uses a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case, while the optional advanced system features a two-speed electromechanical transfer case that adds an auto mode for on-demand engagement to select between 2H and 4H.

The system distributes power to a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid rear axle and Dana AdvanTEK independent front differential with electronic locking for improved traction.

Trail Turn Assist tightens the off-road turning radius through torque vectoring. Trail One-Pedal Drive acceleration/braking makes for more precise and confident slow-mode rock crawling.

Ford says Bronco has a best-in-class 94.75:1 crawl ratio, ground clearance, suspension travel and water-fording capabilities.

Bronco 2Door dust_jpeg.jpg

Bronco 2Door dust_jpeg

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