Ford Launches Cool Off-Road App Only for Its Owners

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Like a petulant child who won’t share their toys, Ford has released a handy smartphone app filled with crowd-sourced and professionally curated tools such as trail maps for off-road journeys – but the only ones who can use it are Bronco owners.

Talk about walling off your garden. Or off-road trail, in this case

Look, we’re not being salty because we don’t hold the keys to a new Bronco. Rather, your author would like to point out there are other apps of this type which are open to everyone. Take the Polaris RideCommand app, for instance. One needn’t have their name on the ownership papers of a Sportsman ATV or RZR side-by-side to use that app’s tools. Simply downloading the app onto one’s device permits the use of trail maps, waypoint system, or navigation kit. Connecting with other riding buddies to form a group ride or simply for security purposes is no trouble at all – even if some users are on a Can-Am or Kawasaki.

If you think the app is all part of Polaris’ marketing efforts, you’re exactly right. This writer can speak of at least two customers who traded in competing products on a new Polaris after using the app for a spell; maybe not because of the app specifically – but you can bet it helped. Ingraining a brand into the psyche of a customer, being top of mind and all that faff, is Marketing 101. I guess Ford thinks differently, which is a shame because the Bronco Trail App actually looks good, offering up the likes of curated trail maps, points of interest, satellite imagery, and adventure tracking. Yes, yes – concerns about privacy and OEMs harvesting your data; tinfoil hats are available in the cupboard over the fridge, okay?

Surely the techies at Ford could open up those general tools to non-Bronco owners, leaving gear like tire pressure monitoring, speed, and pitch/roll readouts as exclusive content for those wheeling a Bronco. There’s nothing wrong with placing some of the tools behind a paywall, giving users an incentive to swap their Rubicon for a Sasquatch. Seems like basic marketing to us, but perhaps that’s why we write about cars instead of running the companies.

In the interest of science, we did try downloading this new app onto a device, even going so far as to adding a Bronco to our account using a VIN grabbed from a dealer listing. No dice. Until the app is actually paired with the rig, it seems yer outta luck.

The Bronco Trail App is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Just swing by a Ford dealer and finance a new 4x4 first, alright?

[Images: Ford, Author]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

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2 of 14 comments
  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on May 03, 2023

    There's "All Trails". I'm cynical about map apps. I've encountered too many flaws/errors in electronic maps for my part of the world.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic 3SpeedAutomatic on May 04, 2023

    Realize that Ford may be monitoring your driving habits both on and off the road.

    As an example , I was required to load an auto insurance app on my phone to obtain a discount. One evening while heading home, I zigged zagged thru my neighborhood looking for my lost cat as opposed to my normal route. No sooner had I walked thru my door, I got a text requesting that I confirm the path with a corresponding map. Same thing happen while I was on a trip to Europe. I put the phone in airplane mode to avoid overseas charges while using WhatsApp to communicate with the folks back home. As I stood in line at Customs in Houston, I got a text message informing me I had been off line for several days.…please confirm.

    Should you make a warranty claim or participate in a class action against Ford, they have a data history of your driving habits and could use it in their defense. 🚗🚗🚗

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.