It’s pretty clear that the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco was designed with the Jeep Wrangler square in its sights. Both vehicles are meant to deliver exceptional off-road capability, along with a fun and youthful experience thanks to retro styling and a removable roof and doors. While we’ve yet to drive the new Bronco, here’s how it stacks up against the venerable Wrangler on paper.
The Ford Bronco is all-new for 2021 and is a purpose-built off-roader with a removable roof and doors, not to mention loads of tech.
The Jeep Wrangler was last fully-redesigned for the 2018 model year and builds off of a formula that’s been refined over the past few decades
2021 Ford Bronco
2021 Ford Bronco Starting Price: $29,995 / Read our 2021 Ford Bronco Review
What We Like: Classic looks, segment-leading technology, easily removable roof and doors, key off-road features are available on all trims
What We Would Change: Availability will be sporadic early on, and dealers will likely charge big mark-ups
Overview: The 2021 Ford Bronco is the revival of an icon. Like the Wrangler, the Bronco comes with a removable roof and doors, and loads of off-road capability. Six main trim levels will be offered – base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, and Badlands, plus a special ‘Launch Edition’ that’s already sold out. The Bronco rides on a body-on-frame platform that will also underpin the next-generation Ford Ranger. An independent front suspension paired with a solid rear axle means that the Bronco will be relatively poised on-road while offering most of the off-road capability of its Jeep-badged rival. Two good engines, along with an optional manual transmission, are available.
What’s new for 2021: Everything. The Bronco is an all-new model from Ford and is the first vehicle to ride on the company’s next-generation midsize truck platform. Neither of its powertrains or automatic transmissions are new, though its 7-speed automatic is, and features a special ultra-low crawler gear. Its design is heavily inspired by that of the original Bronco, which was sold from 1966 through 1977.
Features and technology: The 2021 Ford Bronco is available with loads of configurability and off-road technology. For starters, the roof and doors are removable. There are actually three different roof designs; a soft top and two hardtops, the most versatile of which features individual removable panels over both the first and second rows, in addition to a removable section that covers the cargo area. Expect a few different accessory door designs to debut down the line as well. Beyond that, expect the Bronco to launch with loads of Ford accessories, including fenders, bumpers, wheels, lighting, and more. Four-wheel drive comes standard, and the Bronco is also available with locking front and rear differentials, special low range gearing, a disconnecting front sway bar, a ‘one-pedal driving’ feature, and a multitude of off-road driving modes. As for software, the Bronco debuts the fourth-generation of Ford’s Sync infotainment software, which will pack off-road mapping capability through a number of different services, and more.
What‘s the future hold?: The Bronco by itself amounts to a future vehicle, given that it likely won’t be available to the masses until about a year from now. That said, expect a top-tier Raptor trim to debut in a few years, while a pickup version meant to compete with the Jeep Gladiator is supposedly in the works as well. See the 2021 Ford Bronco models for sale near you
2020 Jeep Wrangler
2020 Jeep Wrangler Starting Price: $29,790 / Read our 2020 Jeep Wrangler Review
What We Like: Only new passenger vehicle sold with a solid front axle, available diesel engine and power-retractable top, readily available, proven capability
What We Would Change: Rough on-road driving manners, cumbersome roof and door removal process, limited technology relative to the Bronco
Overview: Like the Bronco, the Wrangler is available in both two- and four-door body styles. Four core trim levels are offered; Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon, which is the most off-road oriented Wrangler. Fabric and hardtops are available, as are three engine options. The Jeep Gladiator is a pickup version of the Wrangler, and offers a level of utility not available from the 2021 Ford Bronco.
What’s new for 2020: A new optional diesel engine joins the lineup for 2020. Beyond that, changes are limited to small tweaks to the Wrangler’s packaging and trim level structure.
Features and technology: As in years past, the Wrangler is available with special low-range off-road gearing, locking front and rear differentials, a disconnecting front sway bar, and other off-road hardware like taller fenders. Chrysler’s 8.4-in UConnect infotainment system is excellent and is available on all but the base trim. In addition to its solid rear axle, the Wrangler offers two big features that the Bronco doesn’t. For starters, its available with a new diesel engine for 2020, that offers more torque than any engine in the Bronco’s lineup. Additionally, the Wrangler can be had with an optional power-retractable top, which makes transitioning between closed and open-top driving a breeze. Worth noting though – either of these features is a $4,000 option.
What’s the future hold?: Jeep already introduced a pickup version of the Wrangler, the Gladiator, for the 2020 model year. A Mojave trim, introduced on the Gladiator this past year as a high-speed off-road-focused model, will likely join the Wrangler lineup soon. In response to the release of the Bronco, the company also teased a potential V8-powered Wrangler, which we expect to debut in production form in about a year or so. Either way, as it’s managed to survive with only incremental improvements over the years, Jeep will likely look to make some improvements to the Wrangler in response to the Bronco sooner rather than later.
Bronco vs. Wrangler: Strengths comparison
Both of these vehicles are effectively toys – your life will inherently be more exciting with either one in your garage. The 2021 Ford Bronco and 2020 Jeep Wrangler both come standard with four-wheel drive, great off-road geometry, and a removable roof and doors. Either one should be a blast to take on a camping trip or just cruise around town in – roof and doors off – on a summer day.
Ford Bronco Benefits: The Bronco is the newer of these two vehicles and packs more technology than the Wrangler. Its independent front suspension is a big selling point for anyone doing most of their driving on-road. Additionally, Ford had the benefit of moving second, and could, therefore, capitalize on the Wrangler’s weaknesses in designing the new Bronco. This is evident in that the Bronco’s doors are smaller and easier to remove, the mirrors stay attached to the A-pillars when the doors are removed, and the Bronco’s open-top is more, well, open than the Wrangler’s thanks to better placement of the roll cage. Additionally, the 2021 Ford Bronco comes with more off-road toys and better powertrain choices.
Jeep Wrangler Benefits: When it comes to technical rock crawling, the Wrangler’s solid front axle will always have an advantage over the Bronco’s independent front suspension. Additionally, the Wrangler is available with a diesel engine that offers decent low-end grunt, not to mention a respectable fuel economy. As we mentioned above, the Wrangler also offers an available diesel engine and power-retractable top. On top of all that, the Bronco is already in insane demand – reports are that Ford has already received as many as 250,000 pre-orders. See the 2020 Jeep Wrangler models for sale near you
2021 Ford Bronco vs. 2020 Jeep Wrangler: Which is better?
For all but the most hardcore of off-road enthusiasts, we’re inclined to recommend the Bronco over the Wrangler. The Bronco’s independent front suspension gives it a leg up over the Wrangler 99.9% of time you’re behind the wheel, while its other off-road features look to meet or exceed the Wrangler’s tech. That said, if you’re wanting to tackle the Rubicon or Hell’s Revenge, you can’t beat the Wrangler in terms of suspension geometry thanks to that solid front axle. On top of that, the Wrangler is certain to be the more readily available of these two vehicles, likely for the next 18 months, and while they’re priced similarly by their respective manufacturers, the Bronco will likely come with hefty dealer markups, while you’re likely to score some financial incentives on the Wrangler. Find a Ford Bronco for sale or Find a Jeep Wrangler for sale
|2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door||2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited|
|Base Powertrain||2.3-liter Turbo I-4||3.6-liter V6|
|Transmission||10-Speed Auto or
|8-Speed Auto or
|Fuel Economy||Not yet rated||18/23/20|
|Optional Powertrain 1||2.3-liter Turbo V6||2.0-liter Turbo I-4|
|Transmission||10-Speed Automatic||8-Speed Automatic|
|Fuel Economy||Not yet rated||22/24/22|
|Optional Powertrain 2||N/A||3.0-liter Turbodiesel V6|
|Axles||Independent Front, Solid Rear||Solid Front and Rear|
|Second Row Leg Room||38.3||36.3|
|Cargo Volume (cu. ft.) (Rear/Rear+2nd Row)||36/78||32/72|
|Ground Clearance (in.)||11.6||10.8|
|Warranty||3 Years/36,000 Miles||3 Years/36,000 Miles|