Is the New Ford Bronco Good Off-Road?

Beverly Braga | Jul 16, 2020

To say the debut of the 2021 Ford Bronco was a highly-anticipated event is perhaps the understatement of the year, at least in the automotive space. But now that the sheet has been pulled from the sheetmetal, is this all-new, sixth-generation Bronco worthy of its off-road-savvy lineage? On paper, absolutely.

2021 Ford Bronco 2-Door and Bronco Sport Off-Road

Not only did Ford stay true to the Bronco’s origin story (it was developed in the 1960s specifically as an off-road vehicle), but the automaker is also so sure of its modern-day, go-anywhere capabilities that Bronco is no longer just another vehicle but a brand all its own with three new models to start: the small Bronco Sport, compact Bronco 2-Door and first-ever midsize Bronco 4-Door. 

And like their forefathers, these new Broncos can take you as far off the grid as you’re willing to go.

Class-Leading Claims - Find the best Ford deals!

While the new Bronco Sport is capable as far as crossover SUVs go, it is the Bronco 2-Door and 4-Door versions that lay claim to several class-leading measurements provided you’ve optioned the SUV with the available 35-inch mud-terrain tires.

Based on Ford’s assertions, and depending on the number of doors, the new Bronco supplies up to 11.6 inches of ground clearance, as much as 33.5 inches of water fording capability, an approach angle of 43.2 degrees, a breakover angle of up to 29 degrees, and a departure angle of up to 37.2 degrees. Wheel travel measures 215mm in front and 261mm in back.

In addition to these sheer numbers, however, Ford enhances the Bronco’s off-roading performance with several technologies.

The O.G. of G.O.A.T. Modes - Find the best Ford deals!

As expected, four-wheel drive is standard on the all-new Bronco lineup. Bronco Sports have an automatic 4WD system that automatically distributes power as is necessary to maintain traction. Available as an upgrade, this small crossover SUV’s advanced 4WD system uses a twin-clutch rear drive unit with a differential lock, a design that allows all of the torque going to the Bronco Sport’s rear axle to flow to a single rear wheel for maximum traction in dicey situations.

The 2-Door and 4-Door offer two different 4WD systems: base and advanced. The base 4WD system uses a 2-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case; while the advanced 4WD system uses a 2-speed electromechanical transfer case with automatic on-demand activation between 2-Hi and 4-Hi, and manual activation of 4-Lo.

Regardless of 4WD format, all Broncos come standard with an exclusive Terrain Management System that features up to seven drive modes in addition to the standard setup (Normal). With names like Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Baja, Mud, and Rock Crawl, the Bronco is engineered with these go-over-any-type-of-terrain (GOAT) modes to allow owners the explorative freedom other vehicles might lack.

No need to fumble through menu settings to access these modes, either. Every new Bronco features a large GOAT Mode controller knob on the center console where it is easy to find and use.

Take Control of the Trail - Find the best Ford deals!

Trail Control is another segment-exclusive feature available for all Bronco models. This technology is basically adaptive cruise control for off-roading situations. Available at speeds up to 20 mph when traveling forward and 6 mph going in reverse, Trail Control manages the vehicle’s throttle and braking so the driver can maintain focus on steering and navigating a path on the trail (or lack thereof).

Bronco 2- and 4-Door owners get extra trail tech as part of the available Trail Toolbox. Yet another first for the segment, the Trail Toolbox is a suite of off-road-ready features that includes the aforementioned Trail Control as well as Trail Turn Assist and Trail One-Pedal Drive. By applying the brakes to one of the rear wheels, Trail Turn Assist uses torque vectoring to decrease the SUV’s turning radius while off-roading. Trail One-Pedal Drive simplifies acceleration and braking control when rock crawling, allowing the driver to manage speed or stop the Bronco without touching the brake pedal.

Even on the muddiest of days, an available class-exclusive (yes, another one) front-view off-road camera with a lens washer acts as an additional spotter on the Bronco Sport. Bronco 2- and 4-Door models receive additional visual guidance with an available surround-view camera system that includes spotter vantage points.

The bigger Broncos can also be had with an available segment-exclusive semi-active hydraulic stabilizer bar disconnect design. The system provides the flexibility of disconnection for maximum wheel articulation with reconnection available under all conditions. This improves vehicle stability at higher speeds while offering maximum articulation and increased ramp angle indexes on off-camber terrain. 

And then there’s the Sasquatch Package. Exclusive to 2- and 4-Door models and available on all trim levels, Sasquatch may make the Bronco as elusive as its namesake with even more segment-busting, trail-conquering features. This includes the advanced 4WD system, 35-inch off-road tires, beadlock-capable 17-inch wheels, electronic locking front and rear Dana axles, high-clearance suspension and fender flares, a 4.7 final drive ratio, and a high-performance off-road stability suspension (HOSS) with Bilstein shocks.

Sync and Share Your Adventures - Find the best Ford deals!

The Ford Bronco’s off-road domination is not just limited to mechanical bits and pieces. Technology is at the forefront as well. Ford Sync 3 is standard on Bronco Sport models while the Bronco 2-Door and 4-Door get the Ford Sync 4 treatment which comes with new mapping software that acts like the Foursquare and Waze for off-road junkies. 

Paired with a standard 8-inch or class-exclusive 12-inch touchscreen, Sync 4 is seamlessly integrated with a FordPass Performance app and off-road navigation. Only offered for the 2- and 4-Door Broncos, this feature has topography trail maps and content about more than 1,000 trails all across America, powered by NeoTrek’s AccuTerra Maps as well as trail guides from Trails Offroad and FunTreks. Additionally, the trail mapping system allows owners to plan, navigate, and even share their off-roading routes with others. See something noteworthy on the trail that hasn’t been updated on the map? Share it and let others know what to look out for.

Suffice to say, the 2021 Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport are all new in design but old school in their quest to help us get outside, explore everything, and just enjoy the fresh air. Or find Bigfoot. To each their own.

The information in this article is from Ford. It was accurate on July 15, 2020 but may have changed since that date.

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