An icon returns

Ford Bronco returns at long last as both four-door, two-door off roader

The word icon gets tossed around and in a subjective area like automotive, it gets even more loosely used. But this week’s tester certainly has earned the right to be called an icon. And after a long, long wait, the icon returns triumphantly.

I’m a waxing a little bit here, but this week I’m reviewing the Ford Bronco. I was fortunate enough to get to drive in consecutive weeks the two-door and four-door version of this rugged, iconic off-road SUV. The Bronco has been absent from car lots for a long time. And then when Ford announced its return it seemed like that took another decade to come to fruition. So to say these are highly anticipated vehicles is an understatement.

Not only was I fortunate to get both the two-door and four-door version, but I was also able to have one with the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and then one with the 2.7-liter V6. So after two weeks of driving it and 10 years of waiting for it (and writing about each news blurb), I feel I can form a strong opinion on the iconic Bronco.

On looks, the camps are mixed amongst the enthusiasts on the two-door version and the four-door version. Demographically, the younger crowd and the die-hard enthusiasts liked the two-door iteration better. I personally found the four-door to be more like a Bronco. And certainly, trying to get in and out of the back seat was easier in the four-door than the two door. The back seat is not overly spacious in general, but in the two-door version it’s almost punishment to make someone get back there.

The round lights on the grille flank the Bronco name. It doesn’t lack personality and style. In an era where many SUVs are dull and without personality, the Bronco shines. It’s unequivocally a Bronco upon first glance. And for those die-hard enthusiasts there’s a lot of throwback to the older style Bronco too (but please don’t bring up OJ and his white Bronco).

From a performance standpoint, the two-door Bronco I drove had the turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine. It produces 315 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque. The four-door I had was mated with the smaller turbocharged 2.3-liter four cylinder engine. Ford has led the way in turbocharging, but the smaller four-cylinder felt underwhelming while the 2.7-liter was outstanding. In a head to head to comparison, there was one clear stand out and that was the V6. A 10-speed automatic transmission was available for both engines, although Ford threw the enthusiasts a bone by offering a manual transmission option too. If that’s your preference, knock yourself out, but otherwise the 10-speed transmission is nearly flawless with no turbo lag.

The Bronco is available in an array of new and exciting colors, including Area 51. The four-door I had was in this blue/gray color and it looked awesome and received many compliments.

The two trims I experienced were vastly different. The two-door was the Outer Banks trim and was more suited as a daily driver, with a playful side of course it came with a hard top. And unfortunately the weather was lousy (stupid Midwest winters) to take the top and doors off, but like a Jeep Wrangler, it’s possible and preferred.

The four-door Bronco I drove was the rugged Black Diamond trim with the Sasquatch package. With knobby tires and bigger lift, this just felt more confident and ready to get muddy. I drove it during the nasty patch of snow, sleet and ice we had and it was beyond confident. The GOAT (Go Over Any Terrain) was confident and slippery mode allowed it to handle snow-covered, and sleet-covered roads like a champ.

It’s no wonder the Bronco has been highly anticipated. With a performance like this, it’s exactly the right kind of vehicle for those of us in the Midwest. And when Old Man Winter skedaddles (and by all means please leave), you can pull the doors off, the top off and enjoy sunny, open air driving. That is after all a big part of the charm of the iconic Ford Bronco.

With the Ford Bronco, the packages, trims and accessories are nearly endless. You can customize it however you want. Many in the Jeep community asked me how it compared to the Wrangler and I said it’s very similar. Comparing Bronco to Wrangler comes down to a matter preference. I think the V6, four-door Bronco feels just a little more controlled and drives a little more refined than the Wrangler. But it’s close.

The competition between two off-road icons will be good for the industry and good for the consumer.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2022 Ford Bronco 4-door Black Diamond

  • Price................................................ $$38,545
  • Mileage.......................................... 20 mpg/city; 22 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.3-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower................................. 275 hp/315 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 10-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Four-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Michigan Assembly Plant

2022 Ford Bronco 2-door Outer Banks

  • Price................................................ $$38,945
  • Mileage.......................................... 17 mpg/city; 17 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.7-liter V6
  • Horsepower................................. 315 hp/410 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 10-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Four-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Michigan Assembly Plant

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