2021 Ford Bronco Two-Door and Four-Door: Forward to the Past

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2021 ford bronco two door and four door forward to the past

Eventually, the absence of a body-on-frame, go-anywhere, dedicated off-road SUV was too great for the Ford lineup to bear — which is why, after a quarter-century absence, the Bronco triumphantly returns to do battle with its Mopar foe, the Jeep Wrangler.

Talked about endlessly since Ford announced the storied model’s return and leaked as often as celebrity medical records to the National Enquirer, the Bronco makes its debut with the goodies fans want and certain things all SUVs need in the futuristic year of 2021. Namely, a four-door model.

Yet it’s the two-door model many might want, given its closer physical resemblance to those rugged Broncos of yore. With removable roof and doors, a standard seven-speed manual transmission with crawler gear, standard four-wheel drive, and available V6 power, the reborn Bronco offers customers no shortage of ways to customize their ride.

Happily, it seems the Blue Oval wasn’t looking to field an also-ran. Built atop a fully boxed frame composed of high-strength steel, the Bronco line offers up a number of specs that top its Wrangler rival — depending on trim, of course.

Without getting bogged down in the weeds, here’s the basics: Your entry-level Bronco, regardless of door count, arrives with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder making a preliminary 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, mated to the aforementioned seven-speed stick and a two-speed shift-on-the-fly 4WD system. Beneath this SUV lies a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid rear axle (five-link with coil-over springs) and a Dana AdvanTek independent front (coil-over springs with upper and lower A-arms) with electronic locking differentials available front and rear.

Optional is Ford’s well-regarded 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, rated at a presumed 310 hp and 400 lb-ft — an engine only available with a 10-speed automatic. Sorry, no manual with the six-cylinder. Available with both engines, as well as both transmissions, is a two-speed electromechanical transfer case with automatic 4H engagement if things suddenly get slick. You’ll want this latter case if serious rock-crawling is on your to-do list.

When paired with the stick shift and its ultra-low crawler gear, the electromechanical unit gives the Bronco a boastworthy crawl ratio of 94.75:1, topping what’s available in the Jeep stable. Crawl ratio for the seven-speed/entry 4WD system is 79.92:1. Opt for the autobox, and the ratio for the two 4WD units is 57.19:1 and 67.8:1, respectively.

Max towing capacity for either engine or body style is 3,500 pounds.

Approach, departure, and breakover angles will depend on what wheels and rubber set up shop at each corner. Entry-level Broncos come with 16-inch wheels shod in 30-inch rubber, but, depending on trim and package, three 32-inchers and two 33-inchers can be had, as well as a range-topping 35-inch set of hoops that gives the Bronco a 29-degree breakover angle and 37.2-degree departure angle. The absence of an approach angle mention confirms that, yes, the Wrangler’s front end is more suited to tackling obstacles (though not by much, in 35-inch-tire guise). Maximum water fording in this spec is 33.5 inches, topping the top-flight Wrangler’s 30 inches.

Maximum ground clearance for the Bronco is 11.6 inches, topping the Wrangler’s 10.8 inches. That’s top-end stuff, though. In base form, the Bronco’s 8.3-inch or 8.4-inch ground clearance (four door; two-door) doesn’t measure up to that of a Wrangler Sport.

Offered in Sport, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, Badlands, and limited-edition First Edition, the Bronco can be had with a variety of packages, the most gnarly one being the appropriately named Sasquatch. Optional on all trims but Wildtrak and First Edition (where it’s standard kit, much like the V6), the Sasquatch package adds 17-inch beadlock wheels with 35-inch mud-and-snow rubber, front and rear locking differentials, a 4.7:1 final drive ratio, high-clearance fender flares, and long-track suspension with Bilstein dampers for maximum ground clearance.

And yes, there’s an available sway bar disconnect if you so desire; one that can disconnect or reengage during feats of articulation. A terrain management system offers drivers a slew of “G.O.A.T.” modes (harkening back to the original Bronco’s nickname), with up to seven settings labelled Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl. Lower-end Broncos see five or six modes.

Pricing starts at $29,995 after destination for the base two-door and $34,695 for the four-door.

(Update: Per Ford’s consumer site, Big Bend pricing starts at $34,880 after destination, with Black Diamond starting at $37,545, Outer Banks at $40,450, Badlands at $43,590, Wildtrak at $50,370, and First Edition at $60,800.)

Clearly, Ford aimed for a functional retro design when it set about to build a new Bronco. As seen in countless leaks and teasers, the slab-sided design mimics the original Bronco right down to the front fender tie-downs, each capable of handling 150 pounds. The side mirrors are cowl-mounted, as Ford assumes owners will want to remove the frameless doors for extra adventure. In four-door guise, the Bronco’s doors can be stowed in the cargo compartment, each wrapped in a protective bag.

Speaking of rear ends, while the rear cargo door is a side-hinged affair (saddled with a glorious full-size spare in a very accessible spot), tailgate parties and other fun activities requiring a flat surface can still take place on this nifty pull-out shelf. Sometimes it’s the little things…

Drivers can also choose just how much sun their passengers get, with the four-door offered with a standard soft top or optional segmented hardtop. Or, you an outfit the Bronco with both. In two-door guise, the roof comes off in three sections: two panels over the front seat (stowable on board), and a rear section. The four-door hardtop brings two front seat roof panels, a single rear-seat panel, and a rear quarter section that boasts removable windows. The two-door’s aft glass can also be jettisoned in the same easy manner.

Leaving the options and accessories lists aside (there’s everything from rock rails to see-through modular doors to light bars), the Bronco twins offer very necessary grab handles in the cabin, with an optional 12-inch SYNC 4 infotainment screen if the view out the windshield isn’t compelling enough (standard screen size is 8 inches). A 360-degree camera view with spotter feature makes the upgrade system invaluable if you’re off-roading solo. Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assist features is an optional nice-to-have.

Fancy stuff, but if you expect to get dirty, Black Diamond and Badlands are your trims of choice, as both offer vinyl seats and a rubberized floor — an interior just begging for the garden hose after a long day of mudding.

With production delayed, much like this debut, by the coronavirus lockdown, Bronco deliveries aren’t expected until the new year. In the meantime, Ford’s accepting $100 reservations as of now. More details, including pricing and options, will be forthcoming closer to the on-sale date.

Join the Ford Bronco Forum here.

[Images: Ford]

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4 of 71 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jul 14, 2020

    I'm still not sold on the grille with the lines running through the headlights (I'd prefer something closer to the original Bronco), but overall, I like it. I'd take one in a two-door, close to the base, with the 7-speed and base transfer case. Is Ford going to offer some of the same paint colors as on the original Bronco? They had a knockout red color you see in some old press photos, and a nice sky blue. I just hope they don't blow the launch with stop-sale orders, or reworking of defects. Hackett and Farley should be on engineering and assembly management to make sure there's a smooth launch. This is too important.

    • EBFlex EBFlex on Jul 14, 2020

      With how poor the Ford Blazer was executed, I think we need to hope that those two buffoons stay far away from any of the launch. We have seen what a wonderful job they did with the Explorer and MKExplorer.

  • Matt51 Matt51 on Jul 16, 2020

    Solid front axle is a must. Solid axle allows much greater wheel travel than independent suspension. This vehicle is not intended for the true off roader. Most people don't want a manual transmission, unfortunately. This Bronco looks good for the intended, driving on the road, market.

    • Matt51 Matt51 on Jul 16, 2020

      What the military buys, and what you get commercially, are two different things, regarding independent suspension. Wrangler will (most probably) beat the Bronco for off road durability. Most buyers are not going to be into rock crawling though.

  • ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
  • Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."
  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.