By on July 14, 2020

It’s time to render a verdict, fair jurors.

You’ve now seen the Ford Bronco from every angle, in every guise, and probably spend part of your evening figuring out just what you could afford (sorry, Canadians — the entry-level Base tops $40k in your overpriced country; it’s $28,500 before destination in the U.S.). Ford clearly put a lot of effort into its swing.

Was it a miss, or did the Blue Oval knock it out of the park?

It’s rare to witness online journalists pledge their scarce dollars on a new vehicle, but that’s what some were seen doing last night. It says something about the Bronco’s appeal. There’s a vast array of goodies to be had in the returning model, and a lot of the vehicle’s charm lies in just how basic the Bronco can get — while remaining perfectly capable.

I’ll admit that my own cynical self, annoyed by the megaton of buzz and anticipatory hype foisted upon this returning nameplate, came away quite enamored by the Bronco. That said, it’ll be interesting to see whether the model has staying power in its fight against the long-running Jeep Wrangler. After that initial first year, after the early enthusiasm dies down, who knows where the volume will go.

It at least looks like it stands a chance — there’s just too much going for it. And the build configurations! There’s actually choice to be had here.

So, rather than go on and on about what I like about it, get typing, B&B. Ford aimed to bring back a retro, heritage-steeped model to take on an a rugged rival. Did it meet your expectations, surpass them, or fall short of the mark?

[Images: Ford]

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67 Comments on “QOTD: Worthy of the Hype?...”


  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    No solid front axle, no thanks. And I would never buy an Ecoboost anything. But I love the design of it.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    If it works as good as it looks and you can get a decently equipped one for under $40K then it’s a huge hit for Ford

    Personally the grainy, blurry spy shots did it no favors. It looks much better then anticipated

  • avatar
    Dan

    This is as unexpectedly good as the Ranger was unexpectedly bad. The only thing that could make me like it more would be if they’d had the sense to put the 5.0 in it.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Whats wrong with Ranger other then its been out in other countries for awhile before Ford brought it back to the US. The only mistake I see in the Ranger is a) its a new “old” platform, but still way newer then the Frontier and b) some people hate on the Ecoboost.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        My personal impressions with the Ranger are that the transmission only feels well integrated when you are ‘on it’ pretty good. It’s jerky like you’re lugging when going up grades as it’s hunting to find the lowest gear. It also jerks into first just as you’re coming to a stop. I found it unpleasant. It almost feels like the transmission is fighting to shift up just as the turbo is starting to spool up so they fight. You have to keep it in sport which basically takes away any small truck mpg benefits.

        That said, it feels plenty powerful when you hit it. I’m assuming they have that better squared away before the bronco.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          Got it. I’ve read similar things. The 10 speed is trying to do two things at once: get good mileage and be fast, clearly a conflict of interest there. A buddy of mine has an F150 with the same transmission and it seems fine while towing.

      • 0 avatar
        nwfmike

        -As noted. The transmission. Always fighting with itself and the engine
        -Terrible off-throttle turbo lag made even worse when fighting with the transmission
        -Strange suspension settings. Really throws you around in the cab at times
        -squishy and inconsistent brakes
        -electrical issues. Mine was in the shop for a month for one of the issues. Another time, it just refused to start for some reason…Not a confidence builder when contemplating taking the truck out to BFE.
        -Uncomfortable seats. That’s always subjective, but for me, the seats in the Lariat I had for 6 months were supremely uncomfortable. No amount of fiddling could bring about a semi-comfortable position. By contrast, I drove every day..many 10+ hour days…on a 3 month 10k trip out West in a Jeep. Never was I uncomfortable. Seats in my Golf R are sublime. But! Many people like the Ranger seats. They find them cushy and Barca lounger-esque.

        Happiest day was kicking my Ranger to the curb after 6 months. You can put a price on happiness. Mine was the thousands in depreciation I ate.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Verdict? I think both the SUV Bronco and the Sport model will be hits, but the Sport model will be the sales star – in a world full of fake-butch CR-Vs (and Escapes, for that matter), it will stand out, and being a higher-priced model based on an existing platform, it’ll be a money-printer for Ford.

    Let’s just hope they don’t screw up the launch the way they did with the Explorer and Aviator.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I never thought I’d say this about a Ford product, with the exception of some limited run or special edition Mustangs, but I think they hit this one out of the park, with a couple of asterisks. I’m no fan of flooding the roads full of wanna-be 15mpg guzzlers that will never go over anything tougher than a gravel parking lot at the farmer’s market, but I guess I am so tired of the crossover blob trend of “but I don’t want to drive a wagon or minivan” market that seeing something rugged and something that can walk the walk is kind of refreshing!

    Now the “*” part:
    Ford dealers will make or break the launch. If they get greedy and start tacking on CTR-like markups, it could break the launch and force early lease deals and cash on the hood.

    And “**” – they better make the uplevel ones have a better interior because that looks a little Escape-like. If these things crash through $40,000+, it doesn’t need to look like a drab coal mine inside.

    Now maybe this will start a trend and Nissan will bring back a real Xterra and Toyota the FJ. There’s still a market for non wussified SUVs people!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I think there’s too much competition in this segment for them to be able to get away with that, and this won’t be limited production. Honda dealers were/are able to get away with it with the CTR because there’s really no competition in that segment, and Honda purposely kept production low.

      And Toyota already brought back the FJ. It went through an entire life cycle.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        A colleague of mine has an FJ and loves it. Their glacier slow depreciation curve downward really shows how right Toyota made it. I’m hoping they bring it back. It didn’t have to be a one-and-done type thing – there’s nothing wrong with making a niche model, especially from an automaker with a deep well of resources like Toyota.

        I might get a chance to look it up later, but didn’t Jeep dealers play some funny games with the pricing on the Gladiator? If so, that’s why I wonder if Ford dealers would do the same thing with the initial demand of gotta-have-it-now Bronco buyers.

        • 0 avatar
          Goatshadow

          The AutoNation here was marking up Gladiators $10k last summer. They disguised it as 2 different $5k add-ons, an “appearance protection” and something else.

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            That party sure didn’t last long. Now it’s employee pricing for all + incentives on top of that.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Nothing like a solid economic beating to bring out the good car deals…

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            I have no reason to doubt you guys but wow. There are SO many vehicles you can choose from for off road image/capability. But I guess if you’ve gotta have it, you’ve gotta have it, right?

  • avatar
    Noble713

    It looks like a good option if you need something bigger/more powerful than a Suzuki Jimny and are willing to fork over the additional $8,000+ USD. Kudos to Ford, and I’m glad to see them produce something to compete with the Wrangler. Competition is good for customers!

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I mean it will sell like hot cakes in this market but I don’t know if I would say it’s worth any hype. It’s not all that original of an idea. Toyota has already done this with the FJ Cruiser.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Toyota will be watching this careful and wondering why the stopped selling the FJ just as the market went smaller SUV crazy.

      Seems Ford did their homework and found out what consumers wanted or claimed they wanted in such a vehicle. As for originality the Bronco is retro on purpose.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      “Toyota has already done this with the FJ Cruiser.”

      Ford did with the Bronco what Toyota should’ve done with the FJ….primarily removeable top. I had an ’07 FJ Cruiser back in the day and loved it, but the visibility was horrible, the power was lukewarm and a removeable top would’ve increased its sales dramatically. Plus the FJ had its issues, I got rid of mine due to the plethora of front end aprons tearing themselves apart.

      But I agree, it will sell like hotcakes.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Yeah, not disputing it’ll sell like hotcakes. It will. But is it worth the hype it’s getting? Eh. Maybe I’m not the right person to ask I suppose. I see it as very similar to the FJ, and I’m not into crossovers. But I suppose any new product gets hyped these days, given social media and car blogs and what not. At least it’s better, in my mind, than the Mach E.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    For all that this thing has dominated the press, I feel like it’s already been out about a year.

  • avatar

    I’m actually reasonably impressed. The way they handle the hard and soft tops is really well done and was what I had figured Jeep was going to do on the JL but didn’t. Also the factory lift kit and 35’s is brilliant as well. I’m still guessing this will only have a minor effect on Wrangler sales just like the Gladiator had only a minor effect on Tacoma sales.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    This is going to destroy the Wrangler. If I can get a 2-door for 30k I’d give them my money right now. The fewer options the better, rip out Sync if possible. It just needs the base 2.3EB and a stick. Steel wheels, manual crank windows, bench front seat!!! I wish they’d give it the base 3.3V6 out of the F150 as the base engine.
    But this is Ford and you’ll probably have to buy a $5000 package just to get freaking doors. These will be $40k plus for years.

  • avatar
    Paul Mindemann

    Looks good, but the fact that they’re relegating the manual to ONLY the base engine (i.e., if you want the GOOD engine, you can’t get it with a stick) leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I’m sick of automakers assuming those who want a manual can only afford the base model.

    I’ll stick with my Gladiator and my wife’s Willy’s Unlimited, for now.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt the Bronco will destroy Jeep because there are a lot of Jeep loyalists but these Broncos should sell well and be very profitable for Ford. There are many loyal Bronco fans who have been waiting years for a new Bronco. The next question is if and when GM will join this market.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      I would sooner expect to see GM offer a 3 pot turbo in the “Blazer” with a CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Jeff S – Agreed. Hardcore Jeep guys are like Harley Davidson riders. You could literally sell them a turd as long as it had a Jeep or HD badge on it and they would stay loyal. It will eat at the drivers who bought Jeeps because there were no other options and might pick off the odd one who is sick and tired of repairs. I know a few guys who don’t like Jeeps for multiple reasons who will seriously consider this.

      The soccer mom, hipster, wannabe adventurer is where the sales volume is at anyways but you need the off-road “cred” to sell to them. This has the looks and options to keep all but build your own hardcore types happy.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The problem with the Bronco is its reputation for reliability–or rather, lack thereof. I am sorely tempted by this thing, as is my wife–who is looking to replace her existing vehicle and misses the old Jeep Wrangler we used to have (fun vehicle but she can’t drive stick and needed a more economical daily driver.) My pickup covers the daily hauler-type of tasks (amazing how often you load the bed when you actually have ROOM to carry the things you don’t want to carry inside an enclosed cabin.) But even with a proper transfer case and good 4×4 capability, it’s just too long to treat as an off-road toy and is not always the easiest to park in every situation. (I’ve found it easier to back into spaces than try to drive in simply because the camera lets me see better than trying to look over those tall fenders.) Yes, this thing is quite tempting… despite the price equipped as she would want it.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      “The problem with the Bronco is its reputation for reliability–or rather, lack thereof.”

      Lol….there hasn’t been a Bronco for 24 years, so your reliability data may be a bit out of date. For the record, K5 Blazers and Ramchargers of that era weren’t particularly reliable either.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Heh. I knew someone would twitch on that. Who makes the Bronco? Ford. Who has the reputation of Found On Road, Dead? Ford. Ergo, the Bronco, being a Ford, has a reputation for a serious lack of reliability that goes all the way back to the ’60s through its family history in Ford.

        I don’t know a single Ford owner that isn’t constantly trying to repair or improve their vehicle. Of the three Fords I’ve owned, I’ve paid more in the repair of each than I paid for the vehicle in the first place, not counting the efforts to resolve factory installed shortcomings such as an air temperature sensor that saps 50% of the power on hot days. Even replacing the belt-driven fan with an electric one that would run after the engine was shut off could never cool the engine down enough to get full power on start after the first run of the day.

        I Don’t Trust Fords.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          All of the Jeep owners I know skirt the reliability question. Why? Jeeps are legendary for problems and all gets swept under the rug with “It’s a Jeep thing”.
          Ford has a pretty low bar to step over when going head to head with Jeep on reliability. A GT350R with a track tune won’t rub on that hurdle.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Lou_BC: Jeep CJs and Wranglers have been legendary for being easy to work on… until recently. Suspension mods and other under-body repairs are still relatively easy but the engines and transmissions are the victim of modernization… notoriously difficult because of the extensive computer controls over nearly every aspect.

            Still, I got nine years of reasonably reliable use out of my JK Wrangler and am still tempted to get something similar; the thing was simply too fun to drive, especially when you could do things with it that almost no other vehicle could do.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    Yes, it absolutely lives up to the hype. Ford is launching a vehicle that could easily pass for a pie-in-the-sky concept car. But it’s very real, and very, very customizable right from the factory. I never thought I’d see the day. I’m no Ford fan, I have absolutely no desire to do any hardcore off-roading, and yet I can’t stop wondering if there is one of these in my future. An Outer Banks with the 2.7T maybe? Lots to ponder…

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    I generally think I like it, but with nothing more than press videos it’s hard to say for sure. The naming structure is just awful except for Badlands and Bigfoot. All the other names are bad and distracting.

    But it’s got a good look and at least the videos make it look like the real deal. Looking forward to seeing some real tests then seeing them out in the wild.

  • avatar
    cardave5150

    As a tried-and-true Mopar guy, I love these! They got the looks right, the equipment available (right from the get-go) is really well put-together, the pricing seems pretty good for what you’re getting.

    Ford dealers (at least in the Chicagoland area) aren’t the best places to do business with – I’m guessing they’ll be bending people over right and left with mark-ups and highly-optioned versions on the lot for as long as they can sustain it.

    I like the Bronco Sport a whole lot more than I was prepared to. I’m not an off-road guy, so the straight-up Bronco is more vehicle than I need (but I’m quite impressed with their efforts on it). I’m just curious about interior room, due to the classification as a subcompact ute. I’m not at all crazy about the standard 3-banger in the B.S. model, and I wish they had a naturally-aspirated option in each of them. I’m not really a “turbo all the things” guy.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Wait a year (like the Gladiator example above) and you’ll buy it for invoice and get some incentives. Maybe some big incentives if the Corona stuff is still tanking the economy.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    No v6 no sale

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Thoughts:

    1. The product itself looks wow.

    2. This debut should be the end of autoshows – Ford shows how to do it in an internet age. If only they’d have developed it more quickly…

    3. Automaker that should be most worried is not Jeep but Land Rover. This looks to walk all over the new Defender.

    4. Is Ron Zarrella working at Ford now? The “Bronco” branding is over the top. Except for the cool “FORD” in the tailgate pullout, there isn’t a blue oval to be found on the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Land Rover shouldn’t worry. The new Defender is in a different price class and I don’t really see too many Defender buyers cross shopping the new Bronco.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Agreed. But I bet the people who would look at this have heard of Land Rover, and won’t mind the “affordable Defender” vibe one bit.

        (Honestly, I might be one of them. I probably wouldn’t buy something like this, but I have a kind of soft spot for SUVs IF they’re truly functional.)

  • avatar
    jack4x

    It was basically exactly what all the rumors said.

    I continue to believe it was a mistake to only offer the manual with the smaller engine, as enthusiasts are the ones who would buy a stick.

    I’m impressed by the variety of trim levels, and the availability of things like the stick shift and Sasquatch package throughout the lineup.

    The price is exactly where it should be and in line with the Jeep.

    Since I’m not much of a downsize + turbo guy, I’m much more interested in the V8 Wrangler response from Jeep. I prefer the Bronco styling though so I hope Ford decides to match with a 5.0 model.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    Well, it looks good to me on paper, and the 2door in particular looks the part. The question of course is how it end up working as an actual vehicle. Off-roader death wobbles? Inheriting EcoBoost, manual trans and build issues from other Fords? Fanbois won’t be enough to keep this up as an ongoing concern for Ford.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I think that they did a very good job of staying as close as they could to the look, mission and feeling of the first gen Bronco while making it modern. Would I have loved a V8 of some sort in it?

    Absolutely! But I doubt that will ever happen even if they have a Raptorized version….they’ll probably drop in the TT3.5.

    On the plus side, the fact that this can be had lifted with 35s from the factory, with warranty….is pretty amazing.

  • avatar
    rustbeltPete

    Styling: I think they did an awesome job. It is very clearly inspired/ related to the first gen Bronco, and it looks better than some of the concepts did!

    Powertrain:Kind of to be expected with the current philosophy of smaller, turbocharged engines for “improved fuel economy”. Really the biggest disappointment is the manual is only available with the four cylinder- that’s just frustrating- so close, and no reason why we couldn’t get the stick with the v6, other than I’m sure the take rate would be quite low (wait, it’s going to be low anyway….). Personally, I was really wishing for a v8, but, as this is not a full size truck, I understand it was never going to happen.

    Trim levels: Yay for choices! Facepalm for naming scheme! Come on Ford, you already can’t keep the trim levels you have straight (look at F150 trims vs. SUVs- the limited and platinum are reversed). So, now there’s a whole bunch more random “cool” names that no one is going to be able to keep straight? Whatever happened to XL, XLT, Lariat, and maybe throw in the Wildtrak as the extreme off road package (so we can reserve the raptor name for something with a bigger, hopefully V8, engine, and more suspension). That being said, I’m so happy that they are making any powertrain and the big tire package available on the base trim, not just the top end trim.

    Features: Clearly they did their homework regarding door removal (and roof, but I haven’t seen any details on the roof other than they say it’s easier and faster than the wrangler). By moving the mirrors to the cowl and making the doors frameless, they have definitely done some things that Jeep should’ve done years ago. One small thing that I absolutely appreciate though is the lack of an overhead bar between the first and second rows. Anyone tall who has sat in a Wrangler and bashed their head into the bar knows what I’m talking about. Yes, I’m sure it’s a big factor as to why the windshield can’t flip down, but, I don’t think most buyers would flip the windshield down anyway, and I’d rather be able to sit in the vehicle without hitting my head on the roll bar than be able to flip the windshield down (besides, a junebug to the face would hurt bad enough, I don’t want to think about a bird hitting my face)

    I can’t wait ’till these things show up at dealers so I can see how I fit (6’3″ and short legs, I need all the headroom I can get), and drive one to see how the four cylinder compares to the V6.

  • avatar
    nwfmike

    Like the author, I was ready to be underwhelmed but instead, I’m mostly impressed. The IFS system will give this a great ride in any area that I’d be interested in going. Took a long trip out West in 2015. 3 months long of which I spent around 3 weeks in Colorado enjoying the areas around The Alpine Loop. Black Bear pass is supposedly difficult and in my RTT equipped, top heavy Jeep, it was a small challenge in a couple areas, but this would turn BBP into an easy Sunday drive. Remember being passed on one particularly rocky trail by a Tacoma. While I was slowly making way down…swaying back and forth and getting beaten up. The Tacoma smoothly drove past me.

    Having said that, I had a bad experience with a 2019 Ranger I had for 6 months so although the Bronco looks capable, I am skeptical I could live with it. Don’t live in an area now I could use the capabilities anyway. I’ll still go check one out once they hit the dealerships.

  • avatar
    kkop

    I am impressed. Loos like they got it right. Really liking the base model two door with the manual transmission. V-6 would be better, but I’ll compromise :-)

    Might trade one of our trucks in on it – in time, after the markups have been removed of course.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Don’t buy a year 1 vehicle. It wouldn’t have been delayed this long unless there were development problems.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I guess that Chyna virus had nothing to do with it?
      BTW, Ford owns Brazilian Troller. They already had a turn key Jeep fighter in the wings. This is a big thing for Ford. They needed to get it right.

      I do agree that any 1st year vehicle is a risk but that applies to even a new generation of a long running model.

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