You wouldn’t be out of line to say that the most hyped automotive news of 2020 so far is the long-awaited unveiling of the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco. The UAW first revealed that the Bronco was coming back for a sixth-generation way back in 2016 and Ford confirmed the news in early 2017. Now, in July of 2020, we have finally seen the all-new Bronco and its crossover counterpart, the Bronco Sport. Ford absolutely nailed it with the new Bronco and it’s exactly what off-road enthusiasts wanted.
No one has driven it yet outside of testing, but at least on paper, the Bronco is a home run. It heavily borrows styling cues from the original Bronco of the 1960s. It also has legitimate off-road chops that should put it towards the top of its class in off-road capabilities. Keeping practicality and sales numbers in mind, Ford is offering the Bronco in both two-door and four-door body variants. For some open-air fun, the doors and roof are removable. And yes, you can get one with a manual transmission.
This Looks Familiar
Do these traits sound familiar? They should because Ford is clearly taking pages right out of the playbook of the Bronco’s closest competitor; the Jeep Wrangler. Many off-road SUVs have tried and failed to compete with the Wrangler. Remember SUVs like the Toyota FJ Cruiser and Nissan Xterra? There have been other SUVs from big manufacturers that were mainly engineered for off-roading, but none of them got the formula quite right in recent years.
That’s where the Bronco comes in. They didn’t try to re-invent the wheel. They’re taking the fight directly to a clear segment leader by doing what has been proven to work. Make an SUV with retro, boxy styling. Make it available as a two-door or a more family-friendly four-door. Give it a reasonable starting MSRP of under $30,000. Give it removable doors and a removable roof. Offer it with a manual transmission. And most importantly, make it an absolute beast off-road.
Is This Just a Copy?
One might accuse the new Bronco of being a copycat of the Wrangler. There’s no doubt that the Bronco is taking a lot of what works for the Wrangler and applying it to the Bronco. But I’m not so sure this is a case of copying. If Ford had never made a serious off-road SUV before, then maybe. However, the Bronco has a lot of its own heritage that it’s drawing from going all the way back to the mid-1960s. Yes, even the original Bronco was designed as a competitor to the Jeep CJ-5. But the result was a totally new and unique off-roader that built its own legacy. To say the Bronco is copying the Wrangler is kind of like saying the Camaro is copying the Mustang. It kind of is, but not really.
The reason I think the new Ford Bronco will be a huge success is that the Wrangler is such a consistently strong-selling product with an enthusiastic fandom surrounding it and has enjoyed many years with no serious, direct competition. Off-road enthusiasts buy Wranglers because there’s simply no other SUV on the market quite like it. There have been other good off-road SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner, but the Wrangler is unique for its two-door availability, variety of tops, and inimitable character. Finally, folks who are attracted to the Wrangler have another option available.
As long as the Bronco is as good of an off-road performer as it’s promising to be, then the Wrangler — the long-reigning king of off-road SUVs — has some serious competition to worry about. Find a Ford Bronco for sale