The wait is over, America. Ford finally graced us with its 2021 Bronco
on Monday and damn, does it look F-I-N-E. The retro looks approach perfection and with removable doors and windows, the Bronco should be a joy to drive, wind tousling the hair, cool air across the face. While we haven’t had a chance to get behind the wheel of the bucking beast, Ford supplied us with a whole bunch of specs. That immediately got us wondering how the new Bronco stacks up against the current champion of off-road SUVs: the Jeep Wrangler.
For this specs breakdown, we’ll choose the most-extreme versions of both four-door models: the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and the Ford Bronco Badlands with the Sasquatch package, which adds beefy 35-inch tires and other equipment. Let’s take a look at how these two stack up on size, engines, off-road geometry and crawl ratio.
Before we dig in, do note that while the Wrangler has the same dimensions regardless of trim, the Bronco will vary a bit for each model. So if you’re looking up Bronco numbers on your own, they may be slightly different than what’s shown here.
In Badlands guise, it looks like the Bronco is just a bit longer than the Rubicon, which should mean more interior room. (We’ll be sure to update this article when we get the final interior numbers.) The shorter wheelbase, as you’ll soon see, means the Bronco has a better breakover angle, as well.
|2021 Ford Bronco||2020 Jeep Wrangler|
|Length||190.5 in||188.4 in|
|Wheelbase||116.1 in||118.4 in|
|Width||76.3 in||73.8 in|
|Front / rear track||65 / 65 in||62.9 / 62.9 in|
|Height||73.9 in||74.0 in|
|Towing capacity||3,500 pounds||3,500 pounds|
|Payload capacity||1,370 pounds||1,351 pounds|
When discussing off-road geometry, we’re talking about the angle between an obstacle and where the tire hits the ground. These numbers are important because they give a good idea of how easily a vehicle will be able to get through the rough and rocky stuff.
The Rubicon gets 33-inch tires standard, which isn’t bad, but the Bronco’s Sasquatch package adds 35-inch tires. Those larger tires give the Bronco a bit more ground clearance, a welcome improvement when it comes to going off road. The two SUVs’ approach angles are well matched and the Bronco ekes out a better breakover angle thanks to that shorter wheelbase. As for water fording, the Bronco can go just a bit further into the deep end than the Rubicon.
Both SUVs have standard front and rear locking differentials, but the Bronco’s are selectable not only by the driver, but can automatically engage on their own depending on drive mode.
|2021 Ford Bronco||2020 Jeep Wranger|
|Maximum tire size||35 in||33 in|
|Ground clearance||11.5 in||10.8 in|
|Approach angle||43.2 deg||43.9 deg|
|Breakover angle||26.3 deg||22.6 deg|
|Departure angle||37.0 deg||37.0 deg|
|Fording depth||33.3 in||30.0 in|
In terms of engine options, the Jeep Wrangler comes strong with a standard 3.6-liter V6, an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 or a 3.0-liter V6 diesel. The Bronco gets a standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost I4 or a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. What’s worth noting here is that the torque in the smaller Ford engine beats out the best torque number of a nondiesel Rubicon, and the optional Ford engine breaks the 400 pound-feet mark. To best that with the Jeep you’ll need to lay out an extra $4,000 for the diesel V6, something many drivers may not want to do.
Base Engine Specs
|2021 Ford Bronco (base)||2020 Jeep Wrangler (base)|
|Engine||2.3-liter turbo I4||3.6-liter V6|
|Power||270 hp||285 hp|
|Torque||310 lb-ft||260 lb-ft|
|Transmission(s)||7-speed manual||6-speed manual|
|10-speed auto||8-speed auto|
Optional Engine Specs
|2021 Ford Bronco (opt.)||2020 Jeep Wrangler (opt.)||2020 Jeep Wrangler (opt.)|
|Engine||2.7-liter turbo V6||2.0-liter turbo I4||3.0-liter turbodiesel V6|
|Power||310 hp||270 hp||260 hp|
|Torque||400 lb-ft||295 lb-ft||442 lb-ft|
|Transmission(s)||10-speed auto||8-speed auto||8-speed auto|
2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door: Hit the trails, bring your friends
What’s really important with off-roading is an SUV’s crawl ratio. These are a complicated mix of elements, but you can think of it simply as a representation of how much the torque is multiplied through the axles before it hits the ground. If you have a high-torque vehicle with a high crawl ratio, you’ll be able to creep over obstacles slowly, keeping your rig under control. Well, until things go sideways and you roll over, but that’s a story for another time.
You’ll notice here that the Jeep Wrangler with a manual transmission has a great crawl ratio of 84.2:1. When you consider you can get 295 lb-ft of torque with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, that’s an excellent number. That means a huge amount of force is applied to the ground, motivating those tires forward.
The Bronco, however, with its seven-speed manual transmission goes huge with a crawl ratio of 94.7:1. Sure, that’s only possible with the smaller engine, but with 310 lb-ft, it still pushes out more twisting power than the Rubicon. Add the 35-inch tires and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could put the Bronco in gear, jump out and watch the rig just walk away from you on its own.
|2021 Ford Bronco||2020 Jeep Wrangler||2020 Jeep Wrangler Diesel|
We haven’t even touched on some of the cool technical features of the Bronco like map sharing and a groovy turn assist that can brake the inside rear wheel for sharp corners. Of course, we have to reserve our final judgement until we drive the Bronco, but on paper it looks to be a very worthy adversary to the venerable Jeep Rubicon.