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Old 6th December 2021, 06:29   #1
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Default My 2021 Ford Bronco | Ownership Review

So what is the Bronco?
The all-new 2021 Bronco has been the centre of attention for the US market ever since the summer of 2020 when Ford revealed it in the middle of the pandemic. Obviously a launch this significant had been years in the making, with billions invested in the development and subsequent marketing machine Ford has put together. It’s also a historic model from the 60s that had its last revision in the 90s (think OJ Simpson in his white Bronco). However, this hardcore offroader’s journey from launch to today has been pretty rocky, much like the roads its designed to conquer. That being said, my unobtanium (more on that later) 2-door Bronco was delivered over the Thanksgiving holiday break in San Francisco, California and its been a fantastic ~200 miles so far.

Why did I get one?
My personal car history in the US started with a 2000 BMW 323i, then a 2011 VW GTI, and then a 2013 Mini Cooper S convertible. In other words, all had sporty intentions, and all were interesting and fun cars to drive. I tend to lead with my heart more than my head in terms of the make-model, but I’ve also been lucky in picking out reliable used examples that served me well. This Bronco is my first brand-new vehicle ever and is a heart-over-head decision. I was looking for a compact (~175 inches in length) SUV that could do some light off-roading on dirt and gravel to replace my Mini. I’d been looking at lightly used options like the XC40, E-Pace, Mini Countryman, Mazda CX-30/CX-5, Lexus NX300, and the Alfa Stelvio. While all of these are road biased, a set of light A/T tires would typically do the trick for my expected usage. I was also willing to forgo the length requirement to get either an older Lexus GX460 (LC Prado in India) or a Cayenne Diesel. However, the used car market currently in the US is completely bonkers, and average used prices have gone up between 15-25% depending on the model. Dealers are marking up new cars by 10-15% as well citing supply-demand. On the other hand, my custom Bronco would be available to me at MSRP. Additionally, the moment one drives a Bronco off the lot, it goes up 20-30% due to its popularity and scarcity. Suddenly, this made emotional and financial sense.

Journey from reservation to delivery:
Long story short, this was an excruciating 15-month wait. Ford’s online reservation system crashed on the day of the launch (July 13 2020) and I spent hours trying to get my reservation in. I gave up and tried the next day and was finally able to get through late that night. Its worth noting that one didn’t have to select the right trim and options for the reservation. This was just about getting one’s spot in a long line to dictate the order of production. The time to submit the build came around starting January 19 to March 19. The intervening period was spent playing around with Ford’s build system to get the selection just right for my budget and needs. At this point in March, there were already several murmurs about production delays and constraints. For example, ordering a 2-door vehicle with a V6 could delay production compared to a 4-door with a 4-cyl. Given my reservation was still early-ish, I figured I’d roll the dice and get the car I wanted instead of compromising. My build was as follows:
  • 2-door Bronco Big Bend
  • Cactus Grey color
  • Twin turbo V6 (330 hp, 415 lb-ft) + 10-speed Auto
  • “Mid-package” that gave me stuff like heated seats, Dual-zone HVAC, and added safety features
  • Full LED lights
  • Roof rack and rails
  • Rear diff lock
  • Auxiliary switches pre-wired to power external accessories
  • Things I’d have liked but skipped: Marine-grade vinyl seats that can be hosed out, steel front bumper for mounting accessories, B&O sound system

The post-March period after officially ordering my build at my local dealership is when the story starts to get painful and bizarre. A combination of COVID-induced delays, supply-chain issues, and production QC and design issues push back production my months. Even after production begins, it is slow and unpredictable with several stoppages to address said design and QC issues. The main issue was (and still is) the hard-top manufactured by Webasto. It's basically a combination of cosmetic concerns, and some functional concerns (wind noise, some rattling). Long story short, the top’s design is just not effectively reproducible in production, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it for potential replacement under warranty if needed. It’s been well documented in the media and forums, and Ford has promised to do right by its customers. A lot is riding on the success of this vehicle. They’re already testing the Raptor version for release later in 2022.

July swings around and I get an email from Ford telling me my vehicle is finally scheduled to be built. My hopes are now up for delivery sometime in August or September. Then Ford drops a bomb telling its reservation holders that they’re halting production and/or delivery of all hard-top cars to review and replace the aforementioned faulty tops. My Bronco that was already built was relegated to a large storage area close to the factory. It got to be un-affectionately referred to as “Dirt Mountain” on the Bronco6G forum as it was an unpaved lot with a giant mound of soil/dirt in the middle of the lot. And there is sat from July to mid-Oct when I got another email that my Bronco was finally shipped on a train from Michigan to California.

I even got a photo of it rolling off the assembly line, which I thought was very cool. Note roof-rails are missing in the photo as they're installed outside the assembly line
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My dealer was nice enough to provide me the rail-car number for tracking purposes. Those last 4 weeks were spent calling customer service every other day to check on progress as the train moved across the country. I was finally able to pick up my Bronco during Thanksgiving after it sat at the local rail yard for 1.5 weeks due to a trucker shortage.

A photo from the delivery day
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My “review” and initial impressions:
At this point, I’ll say that I won’t try to write a traditional “review” of this vehicle as there is so much info already out there from all the major US-based publications and every YouTube influencer that’s managed to get his/her hands on one. Instead, I’ll mention a few things about this vehicle from my perspective as a first time Ford and SUV (body-on-frame, rear solid axle) buyer coming from a slew of sporty European vehicles with tight chassis and 4 corner independent suspensions.

Looks and “Cool” factor:
I don’t think there’s many that would consider the Bronco unattractive. This is undeniably a cool looking vehicle, and IMO Ford nailed the modern-retro design. Jeep had this segment all to itself for decades, and this is a fresh new face. It also draws a lot of attention on the street from humans of all ages. I personally like vehicles with character and personality and this thing has it in spades. I think the 2-door configuration with a 32 inch tyre has great proportions as is, but the optional “Sasquatch package” with the suspension upgrade and 35 inch tyre looks beastly. If I had to do it all over again, I’d try to find a way to get the Badlands trim that comes with the upgraded suspension and 33 inch tyre for my personal Goldilocks configuration, money no object.

Some exterior photos, in the day and night. The optional full LEDs really pop. One of them shows the overall compact length for tight parking spots
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Build Quality:
The Bronco feels mechanically solid and robust and capable of tackling a lot of rough stuff. My Big Bend trim doesn’t get the fancy Bilstein suspension that some of the more hardcore trims (Badlands, Wildtrack) get, but this suits my needs just fine. The Bilsteins are great for high-speed Baja style offroading but getting this setup would’ve needed thousands more $$. The optional rear locker I chose should help me if I ever find myself lifting a rear wheel.
The interior quality is somewhat hit and miss. Its sort of understandable given the style of vehicle, and everything is about function over form. That being said, the plastics in the Wrangler are noticeably better. The Bronco has no soft-touch plastics anywhere, but everything feels durable. On the flipside, the Bronco offers much more standard equipment than the Wrangler, so pick your poison I guess. For e.g. The base Wrangler has no A/C!
One of the general letdowns in the cabin is the wind noise above 70 mph. The hard top is the main culprit here. The roof rails I added don’t heap either. That being said, I ride a motorcycle and have a much higher tolerance for noise in general. How much and if this bothers me will be evident after my first road trip, but I’m thinking I’ll be just fine

Performance:
I have ~200 miles on the car so far and haven’t taken it off-road, so I’ll reserve judgment on that for later. In terms of the engine, the V6 doesn’t offer that much more hp than the 4-cyl turbo (330 vs 300 on 91 octane), but the added torque (415 lb-ft vs 325 lb-ft) really makes the V6 the option to go for. I’ve driven both in 2-door form, and the mid-range surge in city and highway traffic is far stronger in the V6. Also worth noting is that the two engines aren’t that different in terms of fuel economy. It’s probably due to the fact that the 4-cyl has to work harder than the V6 at highway speeds. All that being said, the 4 popper is no slouch and I’d be perfectly satisfied with it. One thing that’s common to both engines is the absolute rat’s nest of an engine bay. I guess it makes it easier to access and work on (maybe?), but its not a pretty sight.
The 10-speed auto is pretty smooth and imperceptible, mostly. It's also supposed to learn the driver’s style and get smoother with time. In the initial few miles, it only occasionally feels clunky on the 3-2 or 2-1 downshift. I expect that to get better with time and miles.

This is not a pretty engine bay
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Ride and Handling:
I’d driven a Wrangler before quite extensively, and I knew what to expect. The Bronco is simply leagues better in this department. The Bronco has independent fronts and a solid axle in the rear. The Wrangler is obviously solid axle front and rear. The Bronco rides flatter and smoother and has way more responsive and direct steering. The Jeep’s wallowy ride and wandering steering is very annoying in comparison. I’m honestly quite happy in this department, even as someone coming from a Mini. The 4-door does ride better due to its longer wheelbase but this wasn’t an option for me. I needed it to be a certain length to fit my motorcycle in the parking spot. Even on San Francisco’s less than perfect streets, it feels quite competent for what it is. I suspect the Bilsteins could translate their off-road prowess to smoother on-road performance, but reviewers have offered conflicting opinions here.

Technology:
This is another clear win for the Bronco. CarPlay/AA is standard across the board. All models come with the “GOAT” (Goes Over Any Terrain) modes that are basically pre programmed off-road driving modes. The number of GOAT modes goes up with the amount of money one spends, but my Big Bend gets all but the Baja and Rock Crawl modes. Even then, one can manually engage 4L + diff locks and crawl over any rock you want. One really cool feature is the trail-turn assist that locks up one of the rear wheels to help pivot the vehicle on really tight trails. Lastly, the Sync4 system feels easy to use and responsive. I didn’t opt for the larger 12 inch screen that comes with a suite of cameras, but it runs Sync4 as well so very little is lost functionally with the smaller 8 inch setup. The larger 12 inch system does add the B&O sound system, which is supposed to be far better than the normal setup. I guess I’m a little unfussy about this, but the normal set up sounds satisfactory to my ears. More discerning audiophiles may not agree.

The 8-inch Sync4 set-up. Very glad to have physical controls for the basic stuff
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All the off-road controls and on-screen graphics
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Space and Practicality:
The 2-door Bronco is 6 inches longer than a 2-door Wrangler, and is also packaged better IMO. The rear seat in the Wrangler is unusable with me in the driver’s seat (I’m 6’3”), but I can definitely have an average person sit behind me in the Bronco without too many complaints. The boot is larger as well.
The much maligned hard-top offers higher fun factor than the Jeep’s. There are two easily removable panels in the front row, which is easy for one person to do. The whole rear section comes off as well, but that’s a 2-person job for sure. As expected, the doors come off as well. On the 4-door, the doors can be stored in the boot, but not so in the 2-door. The doors are frameless and make for much easier storage and transportation (again 4-door only).

Interior space and roof mechanism. The rear seat is pretty useable. Rear headrests are flipped down for rearward visibility
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Fuel Economy:
Saving the worst for last. Economy? What economy? It’s a tall square brick with a twin turbo V6. Let’s move on. The only annoying thing is the puny gas tank at 16.9 gallons, which is only slightly larger than my Mini. It really limits overall range on road-trips.
My 2021 Ford Bronco | Ownership Review-dscf0983.jpg

In summary:
Most people who’d buy this (myself included) will not even scratch the surface when it comes to its off-road capabilities. Most will use it to commute, drive to the mall and to coffee and dinners. Most would be better off in comfortable and relatively economical crossovers, as I would. But I also wouldn’t find myself walking down to my garage for no other reason than to just stare at my rig or take it for a 5-min spin just for kicks, as I do now with the Bronco. That sums up my opinion of this vehicle.
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Old 7th December 2021, 04:53   #2
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th December 2021, 08:07   #3
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Wow! That's a handsome truck, and the frameless doors......
I've always loved the bronco ever since I saw a late 70s blue and white parked in the by lanes of Khan market in Delhi. It just looks like it will skip over anything.
Happy off road miles soon, and do keep the pictures coming.
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Old 7th December 2021, 11:12   #4
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Quick update to my original post:
I did a quick trip north of San Francisco along some windy mountain roads on the famous Highway-1 to get a feel for how well it performs outside the city and highway routine. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it handles narrow twisty roads. The roll and pitch is very controlled, but the steering surprised me the most. It doesn't have a lot of life (as is expected), but it is precise and responsive. The other design aspect that helps with navigation are the two tie-down points on the front of the hood. They really help maintain an accurate line through a corner and kind of shrink the vehicle around you. The tight turning radius also helps with parking maneuvers and getting into tight spots. I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is actually working out to be a pretty decent city vehicle.

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Note the mirrors are mounted on the body rather than the door, so they stay on the vehicle if the doors are taken off.
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These tie-downs are for mounting canoes or cables to keep low branches away from the windshield. An unintended benefit is ease of navigation and placing the vehicle on the road.
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Old 7th December 2021, 11:18   #5
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Good looking truck! This grey/cement color is fast becoming my favorite. A legit alternative to Wrangler. I love how Ford managed to break away from their regular design clues and chalk up a new vehicle that looks nothing like other current Fords and yet it looks like a Ford..kinda hard to explain.
Just like Jeeps I guess the mod/custom scene is pretty strong for these. Anything in the pipeline?
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Old 7th December 2021, 11:27   #6
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Thank you for sharing this. Owning a Bronco is a dream. Congratulations on living it. The pre-wired auxiliary switches are a nice touch. I guess Mahindra now has one more vehicle to take inspiration from if they ever run out of ideas for Thar.
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Old 7th December 2021, 11:36   #7
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Absolutely gorgeous!
Tall stance, 4WD, 2 door powerful mean machine. A looker too.

Looking forward to more posts and pics where you go off roading.
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Old 7th December 2021, 11:36   #8
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Quote:
Most people who’d buy this (myself included) will not even scratch the surface when it comes to its off-road capabilities. Most will use it to commute, drive to the mall and to coffee and dinners.
Find a 4*4 group in and around SFO and start enjoying beyond the on-road drives. The off-roading fun gets addictive and will only make your own ownership even more fun. There are enough videos out there where this Ford Bronco community is starting to have lots of fun offroading across the US. Have fun and once you off-road you can never go back. (I wish in India we can have these varieties to buy from but we are stuck with an overpriced Thar and other not so hardcore 4*4s like endeavor and fortuner)



Two

Last edited by VW2010 : 7th December 2021 at 11:47.
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Old 7th December 2021, 11:49   #9
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Congratulations on your Ford Bronco!

In fact I love the Cactus Grey colour and you can get the 2.3L 4cyl with a 7 speed manual as well and steelies, makes it irresistible!


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Old 7th December 2021, 12:14   #10
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Congrats man! Lovely shade on a butch-looking off-roader. The closest we’ve got to this in India is the Thar, the expensive Wrangler and the Jimny, whenever Maruti launches it.

Ford’s inscribed the name on the Torx screws too!

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Old 7th December 2021, 12:26   #11
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Congratulations. I am VERY jealous.

Hats off to Ford engineers and designers - they have always managed to come up with very desirable and well engineered products, be it the Bronco series, the F150 lightning or the Mach E.

It also makes me so angry at Ford India and US management for being so complacent with the Indian market and then giving up without even putting up a fight.

Last edited by Electromotive : 7th December 2021 at 12:31.
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Old 7th December 2021, 13:59   #12
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Nice review and pics. Thanks for sharing.
Brings back a wave of nostalgia for the years spent driving on CA coastal roads.

The new generation reminds me of the Jimny for some reason when viewing the side profile.
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Old 7th December 2021, 17:00   #13
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Congratulations kinetic!

IMO, the Bronco is probably the only vehicle I'd rather have over a Wrangler in that category. It definitely looks the part and you can't help but just stare at it.
Loved the crisp review as well as the pictures. Thank you for sharing your impressions here. Never thought we'd have a review on the Bronco but here we are
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Old 7th December 2021, 19:12   #14
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Congratulations on owning the beast !!! A very nice write up as well.

IMO, this is the best looking off-roader in the segment. I especially loved the front design. It gives the truck more muscular look than its competitors.

Ford Endeavour 2022's front design is also on the similar lines, if i recollect correctly the images i saw on the internet.
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Old 7th December 2021, 19:13   #15
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That is an unbelievably cool vehicle. Many congrats man. Ford really stamped their authority on this one. I foolheartedly believed one day Ford would bring Bronco to our shores.
Expecting more follow up posts from you. Enjoy the vehicle.
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