By on July 16, 2020

The unbridled enthusiasm and lust over Ford’s reborn Bronco, which greeted hungry eyes on the evening of July 13th, lasted not quite two days before a fly hit the ointment.

Would-be owners were enthused to see that the Bronco’s gnarly, off-road-oriented Sasquatch package, is available even on the lowly(?) base model, but a reality Ford left unmentioned spoiled some of their fun yesterday.

Seems the package — which adds a 4.7:1 final drive ratio, high-clearance suspension (with Bilstein shocks), 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels with 35-inch mud-and-snow rubber, and electronic front and rear locking differentials — is not available with the model’s standard transmission: a seven-speed manual with ultra-low crawler gear.

This revelation, which arrived via questions posed on Twitter to Ford spokesman Mike Levine, left some scratching their heads. The Sasquatch package allows low-end buyers to outfit their Bronco with the capability of the high-end Wildtrak model. It would make sense to pair the package with a transmission literally geared for picking its way along a bounder-strewn trail.

While even bare-bones Broncos come outfitted with a two-speed shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive system (which, when paired with the equally standard seven-speed stick, makes for a compelling package), many people thinking about making a reservation didn’t like the idea of shelling out for a 10-speed automatic — or even having one — just to get the potent off-road package. The base-trim Bronco two-door starts at $29,995 after destination. Indeed, some Twitter users noted that they had only made their online reservation after assuming the manual transmission could be Sasquatch’s dance partner.

Sasquatch, it should be noted, can be paired with either the 2.3- or 2.7-liter engine. And the evidence was there that the package was autobox-only, as the Wildtrak trim pairs only with the 2.7L EcoBoost and 10-speed.

Yet all hope is not entirely lost for these would-be buyers. Choosing his words carefully, Levine stated, “We’re open to feedback for those that feel otherwise” after explaining the 10-speed-only rule.

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[Images: Ford]

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53 Comments on “Some Love Lost? Ford Bronco’s Most Desirable Package Leaves Something Out...”


  • avatar
    Rocket

    Seems an odd decision, but you know they had to screw up somewhere. Considering how much Ford appears to be catering to the hard-core audience, my guess is they’ll rectify the oversight in short order.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      You think so? We’ll see

      • 0 avatar
        Rocket

        If they weren’t offering a manual already, I’d say no way. But unless there’s some reason the Sasquatch isn’t compatible with the manual, they’d be foolish to ignore an opportunity to satisfy as many hardcore off-roaders as possible. Assuming a fair number of them speak up, that is.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          I’ll take the under on there being a correction. This probably shows you how many of these Ford knows will actually be used off road. Too big to be an “oversight,” IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            Or alternatively, they know the few serious off roaders who’ll buy these will do their own mods to a base manual model. Remember, Ford’s marketing team knows more about you than you know about yourself! This definitely was not an oversight.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Superdessucke – I was just going to make the same point. Most “Hardcore” off-roaders looking at a new vehicle will buy the base model because they will install upgrades that they want tailored to their needs.

            With that being said, I see it as a mistake not to offer the “Sasquatch” package with a stick. I know a few guys who have grown tired of dealing with all of the quirks inherent to a heavily modified aftermarket rig.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Sign the petition; rid the world of pathetic automatic scum

    http://chng.it/TPqMjHDGNn

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    The 10a is the only trans I’d want on any trim, so non-issue for me.
    I won’t even bother listing all the reasons it’s a better choice.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The fact that they only offer a manual with the base engine anyways shows me they don’t really want to offer one. I expect to see it disappear within a model year or two due to “lack of interest”.

    Enthusiasts look elsewhere I guess. The mindset of manual = poverty spec appears to be unshakeable.

    • 0 avatar
      Rocket

      It’s a different kind of enthusiast who wants a manual in an off-roader.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        @Rocket,

        I used “enthusiast” here to mean someone interested in purchasing a package that increases the performance of the vehicle, however you define that.

        Larger engine – no manual

        Offroad package – no manual

        Makes no sense to me. In this day and age, anyone buying a manual transmission is specifically seeking one out. Therefore limiting availability to the less desirable specs (for the type of person who would seek out a manual) would seem to be a mismatch.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the Tacoma and the Wrangler may have the two highest take rates for manual transmissions. Off-roaders are one of the last groups to actually want them.

      I have driven manuals and automatics offroad quite a bit and honestly I could go either way they both have pluses and minuses on the trail. In general for the 4wheelin I used to do I preferred a manual but not by much.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Jeep used to have a bypass for the safety switch on the clutch if you were in 4L. You could crank the engine in gear with the clutch out for some very low speed maneuvers. I don’t know if they do in the latest gen though.

    • 0 avatar
      jebediahjones

      I’m not too bothered by the lack of manual with the top engine, especially a turbo one. Does Ford offer any vehicle with the 2.7T and manual transmission? It would have increased development costs with a low take rate. The only manual transmission they use with high torque capacity is in the Mustang which wouldn’t be an appropriate application here.

      I would have preferred they offered a base-base engine like the 3.3L V6 or dusted off the 3.5/3.7 and tuned for torque (and knocked off $1,000 from the MSRP). If this sells, maybe that’s coming next.

      Don’t get me wrong, I loved my old Saab and the turbo engine, but for something like this, I would rather have NA. My guess is they wanted to differentiate themselves from the Wrangler.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        No, they don’t offer the 2.7T with manual anywhere but that’s my point.

        If it costs $3,000 per Bronco to develop and certify that powertrain, many manual customers are going to be willing to pay it. Those are the types of buyers who are manual or bust. If you aren’t trying to court these buyers, why offer a manual at all? No one is buying to save $1000 or 2 mpg or whatever. Anyone who wants a stick REALLY wants one. Imagine them offering the Mustang 2.3 with a manual but the GT as auto only. That’s as nonsensical as this is.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Ideally, they’d offer a non-turbo, 170+-hp 2.3 with a manual with the top offroad kit. Lighter weight engine, more predictable throttle response, better range, and with a decently low lowrange still enough torque almost at idle to break either traction in the lose, or drive line components on slick rock.

          For power hungry use cases like dessert racing, a good auto is better anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            jebediahjones

            @stuki This thing is more than likely going to be about 4,000 lbs. Having only 170hp in this brick would be unpleasant and get just as poor gas mileage as a V6 (my preference over a turbo4). Not to say they couldn’t get away with less than the 310 ft lbs of the turbo 4, but not all the way down to sub-200 levels.

        • 0 avatar
          jebediahjones

          @jack4x After finding specs on the manual and seeing it can handle 442 ft lbs at a minimum, it does seem like an odd choice to exclude.

          I mentioned this regarding a NA V6, but I imagine the configurations may expand if/when sales are successful. Ford is likely only releasing what they think will sell best in the initial model run.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Seems like the Sasquatch package would be a natural for a dealer install kit.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      A dealer-install would have to compete with independent modders. Ford would probably prefer the latter for warranty/liability reasons. Ford just wants Wrangler volume/profit, not enthusiast accolades.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Sasquatch isn’t real, anyway. The photos and videos are fake. :)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Sasquatch is an odd juxtaposition with the bronco/horse imagery.

    Should have called it Wildfire.

    (Everybody now:) “She ran calling WIIIILLLLLLLDDDDDDFIIIIIIRRRRRREEE!”
    “Wildfire, Wildfire…”

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Pleasant Grove’s own Michael Martin Murphy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @PrincipalDan – my take on the Sasquatch name is that Ford is indirectly feeding off of Bob Chandler’d Bigfoot monster truck. Ford had been a sponsor for decades then unceremoniously dumped them. Bigfoot would sound better (i.e. Bigfoot Bronco) but would be a trademark infringement. that’s like Ford making sure the tires on the Bronco don’t show “Wrangler”.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I realize Ford wants to put that 10-speed transmission in everything but there is no point adding that many gears to something shaped like a brick. I foresee a miserable driving experience. And the 7-speed manual might as well be a 6-speed with one crawler gear. Just silly.
    But I still want one… base model… no options… we, you need A/C in Texas but that’s all!

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      That all black one up above – it’s gonna need a/c. I’ve rather see that in red, with a white (or ivory) top, grille, bumpers, and wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryannosaurus

      Take another look at the literature. Description from Car&Driver “Ford insists on referring to the short first gear as a creeper gear, going so far as to label it with a C on the shift knob and putting it in a dogleg position down and to the left, below reverse”

      This is one of the reasons off road enthusiasts are so excited about the Bronco. I personally used to have a Chevy PU with a manual that had a “Granny” gear. It was perfect for creeping over obstacles. So low that at idle you could get out and walk next to the truck. Not that I ever did that!

      • 0 avatar
        Imagefont

        I’m familiar with that particular transmission in Chevy trucks. I worked at a place and they had a truck with that transmission that I drove occasionally. It had a 350 V8 and you could let the clutch out without touching the gas pedal and launch the thing without stalling it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Imagefont – 10 speeds in a 4×4 probably would work out rather nicely especially if you are running in 4Lo. Any of the manufacturers offering front lockers only allow engagement in 4Lo. if you are running up a long greasy hill with the need for upshifts, 10 gears could be sweet since the ratio’s are much closer together.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    After rowing a six-speed in a ‘99 diesel F250 for many years, as well as many farm trucks in compound low.., a 10 speed auto is the cats meow. That turbo V-6 will roast a few clutches eventually if it was an option. Of course, it’s fascinating to know there’s a subset of a subset of a subset of the population who wants to manually shift.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      You drive the ’99+ (6-speed) Super Duty like a normal manual 5-speed. Granny/compound Low is in a dogleg position, to you and back, with Reverse a straight shot forward from there (to you and forward).

      So what’s wrong with having G/C Low, since it stays out of the way when you don’t want it?

      Besides the normal applications, it’s handy as hell in tight spaces where you have to go forward/back, forward/back a few times while cranking the wheel feverishly from lock to lock in rapid progression, heavily loaded on uneven surfaces and or steep grades.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yeah if I didn’t have the Low in my 06 F-250 I probably would have sold it by now, if I even bought it in the first place. That is because of that slow speed maneuvering in tight spaces. When you’ve got a crew cab and 8′ of bed you do have to do the back and forth much more frequently than you do when driving much shorter vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          My son’s 1996 F150 has a manual with bull low. That truck on 35’s with 5.13 gears in 4Lo with front and rear lockers even with the beat up 5.0 under the hood in 1st will not stall.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    The name “Sasquatch” for this package is probably the dumbest thing they did with this vehicle. You know they realized young men love that word and it’s trendy to use it so they thought “bingo”. I’m just waiting for someone to call it “Squach” like they say “Taco”. You know it’s coming. So stupid.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Ace of Base! The base Bronco is it. It appears to be quite off road capable,, granted, not as hardcore as with the ‘squatch package, but still.

    Has anybody found out what the ‘squatch package sells for? With the 10speed auto and all, I’d guess $3000?

    • 0 avatar
      jebediahjones

      $3,000 for that package? I highly doubt it. With gears, shocks, beadlock wheels and 35″ tires, and front and rear lockers, I would bet more like $5,000. That is not including the 10 speed auto.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Someone enlighten me: why do you need a crawler gear in a vehicle that already has a 2-speed transfer case? The only vehicles I ever drove with crawler gears were large 2WD trucks (big trucks, not pickups) and 3/4 2WD pickups. Gimmick?

    I’m losing faith that a $30k base 2-door with a stick will actually be available. It might be like the Wrangler: doors, wheels and A/C buried in expensive option packages with crap you don’t want.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well if it had any serious tow rating I’d say the low gear is for that. I’ve got a F250 with the close ratio 4sp + Low + OD. Very convenient in a truck with 35’s when you want to get a big trailer moving up hill. Of course it is billed and labeled on the knob as low, not creeper gear.

    • 0 avatar
      jebediahjones

      Without knowing the first gear ratio, my guess is it is indeed a gimmick to one-up the Wrangler. I am not sure of the Wrangler gears, but it appears as though the base Bronco has a lower crawl ratio than the Rubicon. Also, if I recall, the base transfer case is not for use on paved roads, so helpful for towing?

      I personally think it’s great and can see it being helpful in a variety of situations (albeit with very rare use). As one of the other commenters mentioned, having it right next to Reverse will be dead useful for slow back-and-forth maneuvers.

      I’m with you on the base model – none of the packages offer anything I want or that can’t be had better/cheaper from the aftermarket. Hopefully, Ford will actually deliver.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Imagefont –
      There aren’t too many places where a super low crawl gear is needed. An off camber cross-hill with a lot of irregularities is one place i can see it being needed. You hit a bump too fast with the body leaned over and you end up looking up at the world between your legs i.e. roll over. Crawling over rocks and logs where tire placement is critical is another.

      Scoutdude raises another valid point. You can get away with bigger tires that tank your ability to pull but the low 1st compensates for it.
      I had an old school KTM 620 motorcycle that had a very low 1st gear. With the stock sprockets it was almost useless in a bike with that much torque. I geared it up then it made prefect sense. that bike had served as their “Dakar Rally Raid” bike and with the low gear they could set it up to have outrageously high speeds and still get through slow trails.

  • avatar
    VWGTI

    In order to offer the stick, Ford (by law) would have to go through the complete certification process again (crash, emissions, ect). I’ll bet Ford’s market surveys don’t support enough interest in a manual to offset the certification and/or tooling costs. Automatics do have some advantages off-roading.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Sasquatch package with a 5sp shouldn’t require any crash testing certification beyond what is already done. Likewise there shouldn’t be any tooling costs associated with that combo. But yes they will have to do the emission testing for that combination.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Emissions “testing” would be an estimate based on the other combinations, but they may be estimates based on the what they know about the Ranger.

        Except the Ranger’s “official” MPG estimate was way off, as if it was based on the EB 2.3/auto Mustang’s estimate.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    When are any of these new Broncos actually going to be available? Autoextremist says next May 2021, ten months from now.

    By that time Bronco option busting will be a tired and dateworn sport before the first one can even Escape the corral and wander footloose and fancy-free across the land.

    Boring.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Likely a non-issue since I expect that 90% of Bronco sales will be the rebodied Escape unibody “Sport” model.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    This is one of those combinations a smallish but really vocal group of buyers (or fans, there is a difference) will yell on the internet, but that dealers will run from.

    When I got my Challenger, I inquired as to why 2 2019’s were still on the lot deep into June of 2020. He shrugged his shoulders and replied “Nobody wants a manual”. I do think the segment the Bronco and the Jeep occupy has enough people that will want it to make it worthwhile though.

    I know nothing about the Bronco’s manual, but might it be that it is on the edge of what it can take internally and adding weight and 35 inch tires is just too much for it? They were right against what the MT82 could take in the Mustang GT and it bit them. Jeep too has had issues with their manuals of late. Hope that isn’t the case because if so, later in life the aftermarket is not going to be kind to these things if so.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Actually found the specs online. Looks like it is a stout enough unit so likely just a marketing call. I think in the end they offer it though I’m not sure how easy it’ll be to find one on the ground at a dealer though.

      Brand new manual transmission developed for this vehicle…you have to applaud that, and maybe wait to see how it shakes out too.

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