By on January 11, 2017

Ford Bronco

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!

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31 Comments on “Ace of Base Redux: 1995 Ford Bronco XL...”

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    My first job out of college, my manager had a Bronco XL. Green in color, 5 MT, and vinyl bench seat. He loved that thing and only added a warn winch upfront to ensure no issues when hunting up in the mountains.

  • avatar

    “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.”

    Can we please sit all automotive journalists down and teach them the basics of 4wd hardware?

    The transfer case lever would connect power output to the front driveshaft going to the front end (read: diff) and locking the manual hubs would allow for this power to be actually transferred from the axles to the front wheels. More modern systems either use auto-locking hubs (vacuum system) or even more commonly the hubs are connected 100% of the time to the front axles (thus increasing drag and axle wear by always having them spinning with the front wheels), and then having an actuator that disconnects one of the front axles from the front diff.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Thank you, that was a silly misstatement by Matt. If he ever sat in one and noticed that it had both manually locking hubs *and* a transfer case lever, he may think it was a screaming deal. Two four wheel drive systems on one vehicle!

      The skidplate comment isn’t much better.

    • 0 avatar

      Piggybacking on this, what was the last vehicle to have manual 4×4 standard? Was it the XL and basic XLT Super Duty trucks up to 2016? That’s all I can think of.

      Our ’08 F-350 XLT still has manual 4×4, and a lot of stuff carried over from the ’08-10s to the ’11-16s.

      • 0 avatar

        4Runner SR5s 2010-2012 had a part time 4wd system with a manually-shifted tranfer case, as well as the offroad-grade “Trail” and “Trail Premium.” Now the manual transfer case is strictly Trail/Trail.P, the SR5s changed to a “puck” and solenoids in the T-case. Can’t forget the Wrangler, its part time t-case is a cable operated manual unit last I checked.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford’s website is showing the manual transfer case as standard on F-250, F-350, and -450 XL/XLT 4x4s, with the electronic transfer case as a $185 option.

      • 0 avatar

        Hell, my ’05 XLT SuperDuty has the ESOF lockers; they were quite common, if not base.

        (For all the problems other people have had with them, mine seem to be fine … and at least the vacuum issue are easy to fix.)

    • 0 avatar

      Jeep Wrangler abandoned the vacuum disconnect back in the 90s (though with fractional fuel mileage becoming irrationally important) things change again

      The disconnect system had its own problems, introducing weakness into the axle (quite a few owners of these vehicles pull out the old axle and replace it with a solid shaft from later models). While it produced less theoretical wear on the ring gear (which, unloaded, was very little of an issue anyhow) and moved it to the spider gears (which, having small bushings meant only for motion during turns) are far more vulnerable to wear).

      Alas, more and more stuff is going to electronic controls, which try to disconnect every possible moving part, and create a whole range of new issues.

  • avatar

    One of my friends had a mid-1990s Explorer with the manual transmission (big, long, school bus style shifter) and V6. Another had a late 90s F150 with the manual and one of the last of the old straight sixes.


  • avatar

    Family had a 92 XLT for a little bit that we used as a plow truck. Ripped donuts easily and Metallica’s Master of Puppets on Cassette was on permanent rotation in there. Good stuff…

  • avatar

    I’m probally stupid but, if the 2020 Bronco lives up to its legacy, I may buy it. Of course Toyotas will always have a place in my heart but, I’m willing to try something new and, maybe if I take good care of it, I could sell it used to someone who wants one with no rust.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    There is a space in my fantasy garage for one of the 4-door Centurion conversions of this generation, with a DT360/Allison drivetrain swap.

  • avatar

    Somewhere in a forgotten box I have a brochure from when you could still get a Blazer/Tahoe in two door form and you could still order a Suburban with vinyl seats.

    When it really was a Sport UTILITY Vehicle.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Somewhere in a forgotten box I have a brochure from when you could still get a Blazer/Tahoe in two door form and you could still order a Suburban with vinyl seats.”

    I think my ’97 2DR Tahoe was one of the last made. They may have made them in ’98 but I don’t think any longer than that. Could only get them with cloth or leather then. The leather was crap so I looked for one with cloth. That 1/2 ton was a beast. 350 Vortec w/3:73 rear end, look out when you mashed the go pedal to the firewall. Awesome truck for towing and no it didn’t sway all over the place (due to the short wheel base)running down the interstate pulling my 23′ boat like everyone told me it would.

    My buddy had a Ford like the vintage pictured above. XLT trim w/302. Very nice truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      My grandfather had a green-over-beige Tahoe two-door with beige leather, and the same 350 ci V8 / 3:73 rear end you mentioned. Last I heard, he gave it to his adopted daughter and it still runs. He now drives a 2003 Lexus RX300 that he’s had for about 10 years, so I think he likes buying cars that stay together for many hundreds of thousands of miles.

      GM did build some SWB two-door Tahoe prototypes on the GMT800 structure (which did not look as good as the GMT400s); unfortunately nothing came of them.

  • avatar

    I think the 2 door Tahoe of the same year was a superior machine, for what its worth. Nonetheless, if the Bronco is not a re-badged Everest 4 door, I might bite.

  • avatar

    Back in the early 2000s I passed on the opportunity to buy a very clean, low mileage ’96 Bronco XL in brown, brown cloth bench, A/C, manual. Still regret it to this day…

  • avatar

    If Ford makes it a “real” Bronco based on the F-150 platform, it will be a massive hit.

    If it’s some CUV like thing that’s really just a Fiesta lifted up (like Jeep does with the Renegade on the Fiat 500 platform) all bets are off.

    I badly wanted a Bronco in the 90s, so I guess I’m the target audience.

    • 0 avatar

      No it will not be. The ” real Bronco”was a pretty dramatic failure in Australia. It will be based on a SWB version of the Global Ranger

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the Renegade has also been a hit?

      What does a Bronco offer that’s not already covered by something like a Wrangler Unlimited or 4Runner or Tahoe?

      I don’t doubt that a BOF Bronco will sell, but “massive hit” seems unlikely.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    What, no mention of O.J. Simpson? It’s gotten to the point that a few months back, I saw a white final-gen Bronco in the paper and the selling dealership actually put “O.J. Edition” in the description field.

  • avatar

    My carpool driver had a 1980 or so black Bronco with V8 and 4-speed manual transmission. It was a good rig until it got old after several years of no maintenance. Once on the way to work it ran out of gas, and when I got out I saw what looked like smoke. Sure enough, leaking oil had saturated some brush that was caught in one of the brush shields and was smoldering. I put it out by throwing gravel from the road shoulder onto it. I wasn’t unhappy that the Bronco had run out of gas that morning.

  • avatar

    An XL with a chrome bumper with the rub strip, and a set of Alcoas? That looks like an XLT (I drove a ’95 F-510 XLT for 17 years), not an XL. The Bronco XLs I’ve seen had the silver painted or chrome bumper without the rub strip, and steel wheels, or chrome styled steel wheels.

    The Bronco was offered with four-wheel ABS, but the F-150s like mine offered only RABS (Rear Antilock Braking System), but it was standard. It was nice, in that it kept the back end from coming around on you in an emergency stop. And very simple, with one sensor on the differential carrier reading a tone ring between the the ring gear and the carrier, and a simple actuator inside the frame rail on the driver’s side, about where the driver’s seat is.

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