2022 Ford Bronco Outer Banks Review - Mall Crawler or Blank Slate?

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2022 Ford Bronco 2-Door Outer Banks

2.7-liter turbocharged V6 (315 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 410 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm)
Ten-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
19 city / 20 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
12.7 city, 11.9 highway, 12.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $42,040 US / $51,944 CAN
As Tested: $49,210 US / $60,579 CAN
Prices include $1495 destination charge in the United States and $2095 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.

The popular image of Henry Ford must be rolling over in its gilded grave at the proliferation of option packages and customization choices available these days. Of course, I’m talking about his ode to speeding up mass production – “Any color, so long as it is black” being the supposed mantra to make the Model T line move more efficiently.

While most automakers don’t let you run quite as wild with the options list as one might have in the Sixties, some cars do offer a dazzling array of options packages and standalone features allowing you to “customize” your vehicle to your anticipated needs. The 2022 Ford Bronco seen here is one of the most prolific in that regard, offering (by my count) eight different trim levels taking the offroader from mild to Wild(trak) and beyond.

This two-door Outer Banks trim sits somewhere in the middle of the lineup – it offers more luxury and convenience features than the base trims while wearing a set of road-focused, somewhat low profile all-terrain tires and 18” wheels compared to the sixteen and seventeen inchers found on the more hardcore models. Could the Outer Banks be the Goldilocks package?

Some readers will recall that roughly a year ago, my wife and I purchased a Jeep Wrangler – and not the Rubicon package. No, ours is a Freedom edition, which is a decal package and a few lux features atop a midrange Sport S trim. So, I’m rather well versed in off-road vehicles that aren’t all that dirt-focused.

This Outer Banks trim eschews the usual flat-black fenders of most other trims and paints them body color. That paired with the heated and optionally leather-trimmed seats and the lower-profile all-terrain tires signal that this truck might not be the ideal first choice for those who want to get muddy. Indeed, I got stuck in some mud, requiring a tug out of a pit. These tires are rather quiet on the freeway and I’m sure would do fine when the trails are dry, but if I were to end up putting an Outer Banks Bronco in my driveway I’d be considering a more appropriate tire and wheel package very quickly.

The optional 2.7-liter turbo V6 found here is wonderful to drive, and I didn’t find a significant difference in fuel economy to the last four-cylinder Bronco I’ve driven, as I’ve averaged just under 20mpg in my time with both. The four does allow a manual transmission, while the six is two-pedal only for those who partake, but I was happy with the ten-speed automatic here, as the shifts feel quick and well-matched to road speed with minimal hunting for ratios while on the road.

In my experience driving recent generations of the Wrangler, as well as a couple of iterations of this latest Bronco, the independent front suspension certainly shines on road. I’ve found that the traditional solid axle on the Jeep likes to wander a bit on the freeway – and this tendency is amplified on the short-wheelbase two-door model. I’m not as bothered by the highway manners of the four-door Wrangler, but the two-door Jeep feels much less confident than this two-door Bronco while cruising.

I felt so comfortable in the two-door Bronco, in fact, that I’d often look down at the digital display and find myself twenty-plus MPH over the posted limit, which is an absolute no-no here in Ohio. Oops. Quickly enough, I adapted and began to recognize the seemingly exponential increase in wind noise as an auditory reminder to slack off the right foot, as even with the optional ($495) sound-deadening headliner fitted to the hardtop, it gets quite loud inside.

I was, however, surprised how well the kids (15 and 13 now) fit in the back seat, once the complaints of clambering over a folded front seat subsided. Ask me today, and I’d be picking a four-door Bronco – but in five years when the youngest is (crosses fingers and prays to the gods of financial aid) off to college, I think I could get by very nicely with this two-door.

The front seats here are miles better than those fitted to the Wrangler – as they have actual lumbar support. I could easily drive all day in a Bronco without complaint. It seems, however, that I never actually photographed the seats. Did I get them too muddy when I got stuck? Did I soil myself and the leather beyond all recognition? You’ll never know.

Controls are laid out nicely, though the nubbin for controlling the powered side mirrors isn’t the most intuitive if I’m nitpicking. Generally, unless you share the Bronco with someone of wildly different stature you won’t be adjusting mirrors that often — so I don’t see it as a huge downside.

Incidentally, I wonder about the culture that will develop around the new Bronco. After all, the clear competitor Wrangler has had decades with which to build a fraternity of owners, all raising a hand in acknowledgment of other Jeep drivers with the Jeep wave.

Will there be a similar brotherhood among Bronco owners? The cynic in me considers the single-finger salute as a possible substitution – after all, I know that every time I mention a Bronco to our own Adam Tonge, who (check my math) ordered a new Bronco sometime during the Reagan administration and still hasn’t seen it, is mentally flipping me off.

Let’s hope Adam gets his Bronco soon, because it’s a damned good truck. When our lease is up, you can be sure we will be looking at a Ford Bronco as a potential replacement. But I’m probably choosing something other than the Outer Banks trim.

[Images: © 2022 Chris Tonn]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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9 of 41 comments
  • Crashdaddy430 Crashdaddy430 on Mar 30, 2022

    So let me get this straight, over 10k+ msrp, wait times six months to a year, questionable first year build quality, having to deal with a Ford dealer, and you STILL have to pay $495 for the headliner in your ill fitting hard top. Hard pass.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Apr 02, 2022

    Christ on a bike Ford, I stare at a 17in screen 9-5 weekdays and now I have to stare at *another one* in the center console for the next 50,000 miles? Oh and: 19/20/19 mileage? How the **** is that even possible? So we've gone to decent mileage V6s of 19/27-30 to 19/20? Da fuq? I think even Audis post more than 1mpg highway mileage.

    • See 3 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Apr 04, 2022

      @dal20402 Step up to 32s, you won't regret it. I'd also look into monitors which feature some sort of flicker/blue light protection. Both of my LEDs feature it.

  • Richard Poore Sure, as the article itself notes (hence my ire) California has mandated that all new vehicles sold in state be EV by 2035. They require EV or hybrid by 2026. Since the author admits to this mandate it seems that the article title is clickbait... was really hoping that there was some sort of changes in the CA position since the state is sorely behind on where they need to be with charging stations for this sort of requirement.
  • VoGhost When will Audi eliminate the fake, oversized grills that impede aerodynamics?
  • Kelley It's about time! I was so discouraged to see those poor Chevy Bolts stuck at the charging station receiving level 2 speeds after 80%, it was ridiculous. It would be nice if EA would had more level 2 chargers, also, at the same locations for people to top off above 80% on the fast chargers.
  • Tane94 Carmela Harris is supportive of EV adoption, so government incentives will be continuing under her watch.