This year, Ford dropped a major bomb on the auto industry — and they did it during a global pandemic. They’re bringing back the Bronco, a long-coveted SUV classic that’s ready to redefine itself. But what about the existing off-road extraordinaire of the modern day? Let’s see how the 2020 Jeep Wrangler and new Ford Bronco stack up against one another.
First thing’s first: Off-road capability
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Looks right at home, wherever it is you call home that day. Reserve yours at the link in the bio. @fordbronco . #Ford #FordBronco Reservation terms apply. Preproduction model shown. Interior prototype, but representative of production vehicle. Aftermarket accessories not available for sale. Bronco available beginning spring 2021.
We’re driving straight into the fun part. The Jeep Wrangler has proven itself time and time again as the king of off-road driving. Its major 4×4 traction and 30-inch water fording ability is pretty impressive. What’s more important is the overall maneuverability, as well as a 10.8-inch ground clearance.
The Rubicon’s low-range gearing, sway bar disconnect and electric locking differentials make it the best off-roader of the bunch. Its approach angle reaches up to 44 degrees while its breakover angle hits up to 27.8 degrees. The Rubicon’s crawl ratio is an impressive 84.2:1.
The new Ford Bronco sports standard four-wheel drive. In the back, the vehicle offers a solid axle, but there’s an independent suspension in the front (which can be better for maneuvering in tricky situations). The electronic sway-bar disconnect has a wide range of articulation, according to Ford.
Unlike the Wrangler, the Bronco relies heavily on off-road tech to get the job done. This can be better for novices who may not have the best control. With five modes, the traction management system is wild. Trail Control, Trail Turn Assist and Trail One-Pedal are all available to boost your experience. Ground clearance maxes out at 11.6 inches. The approach angle gets up to 43.2 degrees while the breakover angle hits up to 29 degrees. The maximum water fording depth is 33.5 inches.
The winner: 2021 Ford Bronco
A base two-door 2020 Jeep Wrangler starts at $28,295. Go for the four-door Unlimited and you’ll pay $30,800. Amenities cost extra, like the eight-speed automatic transmission for $2,500, and the turbo-four engine for $1,500. At the higher end of the price range, a two-door Rubicon Recon starts at $43,450.
You can get a new Ford Bronco with two doors for as little as $29,995. Jump to the four-door and you’ll pay at least $33,200. In the middle, you’ll find a two-door Bronco Outer Banks for $38,995 or a four-door version for $41,450. The Bronco First Edition is the highest echelon, starting out at $63,500. This one has already sold out, so obviously price wasn’t a deterrent for many. Various content packages cost extra, like the Mid, Lux and Sasquatch packages.
The winner: Unless you’re opting for the luxurious Bronco First Edition, I’m going to call this one a draw. They’re so close in price, and buyers are bound to customize it to some extent.
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For the 2020 Jeep Wrangler, engine options include a V6 with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, as well as a turbo-four with 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This year, you even get the option of a 3.0-liter turbo diesel, which hits 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, but you can add an eight-speed automatic. Future buyers can expect plug-in hybrid and HEMI V8 options as well (the latter of which pumps out 450 pound-feet of torque).
For the new Ford Bronco, engine options include the standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo with 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, or a 2.7-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 with 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The standard engine can be paired with a manual or 10-speed automatic transmission, while the upgrade is limited to the automatic.
The winner: Unless more options become available for the Bronco, this one goes to the 2020 Jeep Wrangler. In my opinion, more powertrain options are always a good thing.
Style & storage
The Jeep Wrangler delivers the style we all know and love. It’s boxy and it’s fierce, and there’s no doubt the American market will continue to fawn over its graces. Specifically, its round headlights and large, off-road-friendly windows do the exterior justice. Choose two or four doors with room for four or five people (the Wrangler Unlimited offers additional seating).
The 2021 Ford Bronco has a boxy look, but it curves the corners, giving this ride a totally distinct look. Short overhangs in both the front and rear, as well as round headlights, deliver a ferocious aesthetic. Choose a two- or four-door variant (yes, the four-door is a new addition to this revamped ride). Like the Wrangler, the Bronco features either a soft or hard top (both are removable).
As for storage, the new Ford Bronco features up to 83 cubic feet of cargo storage on most trims (the higher-end Wildtrak and First Edition only reach 77.6 cubic feet). Most variants of the Jeep Wrangler deliver just 31.7 cubic feet of storage. Go four-door and you’ll get up to 72.4 cubic feet.
The winner: In a moment of betrayal to the beloved Jeep Wrangler, I’m giving this one to the 2021 Ford Bronco.
The Jeep Wrangler’s UConnect infotainment center masterfully displays info about your specific off-roading setup on either a 7- or 8.4-inch screen. Charge your device in either a USB-A or USB-C port. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both available.
The new Ford Bronco comes standard with the SYNC 4 infotainment system and an 8-inch touchscreen. Trim upgrades get a 12-inch horizontal touchscreen. What’s cool about SYNC 4 is it updates automatically over the air, so no falling behind the times over the years. With the FordPass Performance ap, you can navigate the off-road through more than 1,000 trail areas (even if you don’t have data).
Easily hook up your GoPro, smartphone or other device on the dashboard using attachment points. Personally, I love the Bronco’s push-button start. And since Jeep Wranglers still come standard with manual window cranks, the Bronco has power windows over them, too.
The winner: 2021 Ford Bronco
The final consensus requires an arm’s race, but for now I pick the new Ford Bronco
I’m going to need to see a race in real time to make a firm decision, but I’m giving this one to the 2021 Ford Bronco. It’s worth noting I came in with bias toward the Jeep Wrangler, so this means a lot. While the Jeep’s performance reigns supreme, I can’t get past the hardcore novelty of the Ford.
I look forward to seeing how the Bronco, and the Wrangler, develop in due time.