2021 Ford Bronco vs. Jeep Wrangler Comparison

Erin Riches-Wong | Sep 01, 2021

Do you want a compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) with serious off-road capability? Until this year, the Jeep Wrangler was pretty much the only game in town. But Ford has revived the storied Bronco nameplate. With production finally underway on the 2021 Ford Bronco, the original Jeep faces stiff competition for the first time in decades.

Both SUVs come in 2- and 4-door models and have various removable roof options. There are multiple engines and 4-wheel-drive (4WD) systems to consider as well. And while the Jeep Wrangler has long been known as the consummate rock-crawler, the Ford Bronco can be equipped to climb over boulders or blast across desert sands.

Your decision on which compact SUV to buy will hinge on multiple factors, ranging from how you plan to use your vehicle to which one looks cooler in your driveway. Here's a 2021 Ford Bronco vs. 2021 Jeep Wrangler comparison to help you sort out the differences.

Price and Value

2021 Ford Bronco 2-Door Yellow Front Quarter View

2021 Ford Bronco 2-Door

Consumers will find that the 2021 Ford Bronco comes in 2-door and 4-door SUV body styles. The 2-door Bronco rides on a 100-inch wheelbase and has seating for four. The volume-selling 4-door Ford Bronco has a 116-inch wheelbase (and is nearly 16 inches longer overall), seating for five, and significantly more cargo space. Although the Bronco is similar in size to the Wrangler, it is just enough larger to be classified as a midsize utility vehicle. (The Bronco is unrelated to the Bronco Sport, which has more in common with Ford's Escape.)

You can get the 2021 Bronco in base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, and WildTrak trim levels. Ford also took orders for a loaded Bronco First Edition trim level, but it sold out and is no longer available to order. All trims are available in either body style.

Pricing on the 2021 Ford Bronco ranges from $28,500 to $46,980 (the First Edition had a $56,915 price tag), not including the $1,495 destination charge. Four-wheel drive is standard across the board.

Ford offers a limited menu of connected services on the 2021 Bronco. You can use the FordPass app to lock and start your engine remotely and schedule engine starts. There's also a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Ford does not offer complimentary scheduled maintenance.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler also comes in 2- and 4-door body styles. Jeep calls the 4-door version the Wrangler Unlimited. The 2-door Jeep Wrangler rides on a short 97-inch wheelbase and seats four. The 4-door Unlimited has a 118-inch wheelbase (and is noticeably longer) and can accommodate five occupants. The Unlimited also has lots more cargo capacity.

You can get a 2021 Wrangler in Sport, Willys S, Sport S, Islander, Willys, 80th Anniversary, Freedom, Sport Altitude, Sahara, Rubicon, Sahara Altitude, High Altitude, and Rubicon 392 versions. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid (PHEV) comes in Sahara, Rubicon, and High Altitude trims. You'll find that there aren't many equipment differences among the mid-range models. The higher trims and the Wrangler 4xe only come in the 4-door body style.

Pricing on the 2021 Jeep Wrangler ranges from $29,070 to $74,440, not including the $1,495 destination charge. If that seems like an enormous range, bear in mind that most Wranglers start around $40,000. Also, there's a significant jump in price to the hair-raising Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, which has a 470-horsepower V8 engine. Four-wheel drive is standard on all versions.

Many versions of the 2021 Wrangler come with a one-year trial subscription to SiriusXM Guardian connected services. Services include automatic collision notification, rapid access to roadside assistance, and remote access features. The Wrangler also has a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Jeep provides free scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles that you own a 2021 Wrangler.

The Wrangler ranks first among Compact SUVs in the J.D. Power 2020 Resale Value Awards.

Advantage: Jeep Wrangler

Reliability and Quality

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Red Front Quarter View

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

Since the Ford Bronco is an all-new offering for 2021, it isn't included in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) or the 2021 Initial Quality Study (IQS). The 2021 Ford Bronco comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles

The Jeep Wrangler does not rank among the top three Compact SUVs in either the 2021 VDS or the 2021 IQS. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles (10 years or 150,000 miles in California emissions states)
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years or 60,000 miles (5 years or 100,000 miles for diesel engine)

Advantage: Jeep Wrangler

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Ford Bronco First Edition Black Interior Dashboard

2021 Ford Bronco First Edition

You have your choice of two engines on the 2021 Ford Bronco. First up is a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp and 325 pound-feet of torque (or 275 hp and 315 pound-feet on 87 octane). This engine can pair with a 7-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission. The 7-speed manual features an ultra-low crawler gear aimed at hard-core off-roaders.

Your other option is the turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine, which makes 330 hp and 415 pound-feet of torque (slightly lower numbers on 87). The 10-speed automatic transmission comes standard.

All Ford Broncos come standard with a part-time 4WD system with low-range gearing. With this setup, the Bronco is ordinarily in a "2 Hi" rear-wheel-drive mode, and the driver manually selects 4WD when desired. A more advanced 4WD system that automatically engages 4WD when needed is optional. The latter system has a greater low-range gear reduction, which is better for off-roading.

Regardless of which 4WD system you select, your Bronco will come with a terrain management system with G.O.A.T. (as in Go Over Any Terrain) modes. All trims feature Slippery and Sand modes, and higher trims add Mud/Ruts, Rock Crawl, and Baja modes. The Badlands trim level has more wheel travel than other Bronco trims if you want to scale boulders. It also has a front stabilizer-bar disconnect feature that temporarily disengages the stabilizer bar from the front suspension's lower control arms to provide more clearance.

If you want to play in the sand, the Bronco WildTrak is your best bet. It comes standard with the Sasquatch package (optional on other 2021 Broncos), which provides an upgraded suspension with progressive shock-absorber damping and 11.6 inches of ground clearance, 35-inch off-road tires with beadlock-capable wheels (so you can air down the tires off-road), front and rear locking differentials, extensive skid-plate protection, and a wider track for better stability during Baja-inspired runs across the desert.

However you equip it, the all-new Ford Bronco offers a lot of off-road capability. More striking, though, is its civil, even pleasant demeanor when you're driving on paved roads.

Bear in mind that all 2021 Ford Broncos equipped with the Sasquatch package have a lower final drive ratio, which improves performance at the expense of fuel economy. With the 4-cylinder engine, the Bronco rates anywhere from 17 mpg to 21 mpg in combined city and highway driving, depending on how you equip it. With the V6, the 2021 Bronco rates 17 to 19 mpg in combined driving.

The base engine for the 2021 Jeep Wrangler is a 3.6-liter V6. It makes 285 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard. The 8-speed automatic costs an extra $2,500, and at that point, it's worthwhile to spend another $750 on Jeep's eTorque mild-hybrid system. Available only with the automatic, eTorque powers the Wrangler's electrical system, smooths out its engine stop/start system operation and improves fuel economy. One potential downside to eTorque is that the stop/start system engages more often, reducing air conditioner oomph on hot days.

Jeep offers a small discount if you equip a 2021 Wrangler with the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, which also uses the eTorque system. It's rated at 270 hp but generates an impressive 295 pound-feet of torque. This engine requires an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Jeep's EcoDiesel turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 generates 260 hp and 442 pound-feet of torque and gives you more cruising range if you don't mind its hefty price tag. An 8-speed automatic is standard.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid combines the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with a 17.3-kilowatt-hour battery pack and two electric motors. One of the motors is built into the 8-speed automatic transmission. Total output is 375 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque.

At the top of the lineup is the Jeep Wrangler of Mopar enthusiasts' dreams: the Wrangler Rubicon 392. This high-performance Jeep has a 6.4-liter V8 rumbling under its hood, plus all the off-road hardware from the Rubicon trim. It's rated at 470 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque, and an 8-speed automatic is standard.

Jeep offers three different 4WD systems on the 2021 Wrangler: a basic part-time 4WD system, the optional Selec-Trac system with an automatic 4WD mode, and the Rock-Trac system exclusive to the Wrangler Rubicon. Rock-Trac comes in two variations: a standard part-time version and an optional version with automatic 4WD. For wintertime commuting, the Selec-Trac system will meet your needs. For serious off-roading, the Rock-Trac systems offer the lowest gearing.

You'll find that the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is essentially a compromise of the Ford Bronco's Badlands trim level and Sasquatch package. It has a more aggressive final drive ratio, front and rear locking differentials, a front stabilizer-bar disconnect feature, 35-inch off-road tires, and 10.8 inches of ground clearance. An available Xtreme Recon package provides beadlock-capable wheels, a suspension lift with 12.9 inches of clearance, and an even lower final drive ratio.

Although brilliant on rough terrain, the Wrangler is a handful to drive on public roads with its slow steering and stiff suspension. Now that the Bronco exists, consumers may be less willing to accept these drawbacks.

The Jeep offers better overall fuel economy, though. With the V6 engine, the 2021 Wrangler is EPA-rated for 19 to 21 mpg in combined driving but expect lower mpg with the Xtreme Recon package. With the turbo 4-cylinder, the Jeep rates 22-23 mpg combined. The heavy Wrangler 4xe PHEV rates just 20 mpg combined but provides an estimated 22 miles of all-electric range. Diesel Jeep Wranglers rate 23-25 mpg combined. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 rates 14 mpg in combined driving.

Advantage: Ford Bronco

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Interior Dashboard

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

Every 2021 Ford Bronco comes standard with a basic package of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), including a forward-collision warning (FCW) system with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection. In addition, all Broncos come with Ford Trail Control, which helps you manage throttle and braking inputs in low-speed, off-road situations.

The available Mid package provides a more complete collection of Ford Co-Pilot 360 technology, including lane-departure warning (LDW), lane-keeping assistance (LKA), and a blind-spot warning (BSW) system and rear cross-traffic warning. The Lux package offers adaptive cruise control (ACC) and emergency steering assistance.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released safety ratings for the new Ford Bronco.

If you want ADAS in a 2021 Jeep Wrangler, you'll need to step up to at least the Sport S trim, which can be equipped with option packages that include FCW with AEB and a BSW system with rear cross-traffic warnings. Only the Rubicon 392 has these important safety aids as standard. Also, ACC is available on some Wranglers. Like the Ford, the Jeep has an off-road cruise control system: The Wrangler's Selec-Speed Control works like Trail Control in the Bronco.

The NHTSA has released a partial set of safety ratings for the 2021 Wrangler. It received 4 out of 5 stars in frontal-impact crash testing. It has a 3-star rating for rollover resistance. In IIHS testing, the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited earned Good ratings in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests. It has a Marginal rating (second-lowest) for small-overlap frontal-offset crash safety.

Advantage: Ford Bronco

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Blue Rear Quarter View

2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door

The 2021 Ford Bronco comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen display backed by Ford's latest Sync 4 infotainment platform. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are standard. A 12-inch touchscreen display is optional, as is a factory navigation system with conversational voice-recognition technology (this requires a subscription). There are two rear-seat USB ports.

Lower-trim versions of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler come with a basic 5-inch audio display. If you want to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you'll need to upgrade to the available 7- or 8-inch touchscreen interface. Both support wired smartphone integration, and the latter includes factory navigation. Some Wranglers have rear-seat USB ports.

Advantage: Ford Bronco

Comfort and Utility

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Silver Rear Quarter View

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe

Both the 2021 Ford Bronco and 2021 Jeep Wrangler are outfitted for adventure. You can equip either one with a soft, convertible-type top or a removable hardtop. Both give you the option of removing the doors during off-road adventures. Both are available with rubberized flooring with drain plugs, and certain versions of the Bronco have marine-grade vinyl seat upholstery that resists mildew when it gets wet.

Accessing the cargo bay is more awkward than on most other SUVs. The side-hinged lower gate (which has a full-size spare tire mounted on it) swings from left to right on both the Ford and Jeep, and the rear glass flips up. The 4-door Bronco offers 35.6 cubic feet (38.3 with the soft top) of cargo space behind its rear seats and a maximum of 77.6 cubic feet (83.0 with soft top) with the rears seats folded. The 4-door Wrangler provides 31.7 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 72.4 cubic feet when folded.

Along with its modest advantage in cargo capacity, the Ford Bronco will likely be more comfortable for most SUV shoppers. It's still a climb to reach the cockpit, but once you're inside, the Ford's driving position is less awkward than the Wrangler's, and the 4-door model's rear seats are downright accommodating, even for adults.

Advantage: Ford Bronco

Learn More About the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler

If you'd like to learn more about these SUVs, be sure to read our expert reviews of the 2021 Ford Bronco, including the 2-door Bronco, and 2021 Jeep Wrangler. To find out how people like you rate models in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on September 1, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker's website or your local dealership.

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