Sometimes, we’ll reach into the past and find a model that pegs our Ace of Base meter. Not all base vehicles from the pages of history were appalling dumpster fires of mediocrity. Most were, but not all. Here’s a good example.
During Ford’s Monday morning press conference at NAIAS in Detroit, it was finally confirmed that the Bronco nameplate will be returning in 2020. This news made our Managing Ed giddy with delight, enamored as he is with all things Bronco, and seemed to be a fitting announcement for what will likely be the last automotive product announcement in Joe Louis Arena (which is scheduled for demolition later this year).
Dispensing with fripperies like information on drivetrains, styling, and actual details, Ford left a lot to the imagination of Bronco fans. My mind immediately wandered to the fifth-generation Bronco, which bucked its way off dealer lots from the 1992 to 1996 model years.
I’m going to zero in on options available for 1995, because that’s the model year for which I could reliably find new-car details. And, yes, I know the photo above is of an XLT, not a base XL. Revel in it, though. It’s beautiful.
The XL Bronco was offered with a standard 5.0-liter EFI V8, making a not-astounding-by-today’s-measure 205 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque when fitted with a manual transmission. I will take this opportunity to mourn the mid-90s, when one could stroll into a Ford store and sign the note on a row-your-own, full-sized SUV. Opting for the four-speed automatic more than doubled the Bronco’s towing capacity at the expense of ten horsepower, while the optional 5.8-liter served mostly as a vessel for burning extra fuel. The 300 cid inline-six was dead and buried for the Bronco by ’95, so I’ll take mine with the base drivetrain, and so should you.
Choosing manual locking hubs on the base XL leaves little to chance, and so far as I can discern, were a no-charge option over the heave-it-into-4×4 hockey stick poking out of the transmission tunnel between the front seats. Standard skid plates over the transfer case and gas tank mean drivers can bash their way over rocks with little concern.
Drivers of a base Bronco will find vinyl buckets make for easy clean up after a muddy off-road session — just don’t wear shorts on a hot summer’s day. Standard tinted windows, delay wipers, four-wheel ABS, and a lunchbox-sized airbag was heady stuff in a base model truck twenty years ago. An MSRP of about $20,000 for a no-frills 1995 Bronco XL equals approximately $31,000 in today’s dollars.
Black Clearcoat with a Ruby Red interior would’ve looked fantastic on a base Bronco XL, dispensing with the milquetoast sea of grey and beige interiors set to blight the land for the next ten or fifteen years. Count me among the gearheads who are more than pleased that manufacturers are starting to put actual color into their interiors once again.
I will say this, though: as much as I enjoy a good base model, I really hope the 2020 Bronco is available in an Eddie Bauer trim. C’mon Ford, make it happen.
Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.
This model is, to the best of our research, shown here with trim packages available when new and priced in US Dollars. Bronco!