Last week we saved some baby seals and dialed back “global warming”™ by driving the Escape PHEV. This week we’re chucking those baby seals and some dolphins on the barbie while burning down the rain forest in Brazil by driving around Ontario in the Bronco Wildtrack. Just kidding – we couldn’t find any dolphins. Anywho…the last time we drove a Bronco was way back in 1991 – not long before Ford discontinued it (1996) and the world watch O.J. Simpsons take it for a low-speed car chase like something out of Hollywood. The previous generation was based on a short-wheelbase version of the F-Series pickup truck and competed against the Chevrolet Blazer and Dodge Ramcharger – remember them? The new Bronco is much closer in size to the Ranger than the F-150 and its only completion is the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender and based on the all-new Ford T-6 architecture/chassis. OK – time to stick it in Crawl mode and squish some snails and turtles….
What Is It?
• Torture-tested around the world before being launched to the public means this is probably the toughest Ford truck ever produced to this point.
• A little trivia: 6th Generation Bronco is built in the same plant the previous 5 generations of Bronco were built from 1965 to 1996
• The full-size Bronco is available as a 4 or 2 door
• They call it a mid-size SUV while the previous generation was considered a Full-size even though it was smaller in every dimension
(Wheelbase: 116.1″ (2,949 mm) / Length:189.4-190.5″ (4,811-4,839 mm) / Width: 75.9-79.3″ (1,928-2,014 mm) /5th Gen. Wheelbase: 104.7″ (2,660 mm) / Length:183.6″ (4,660 mm) / Width: 79.1″ (2,010 mm))
• Gone, are the 4.9L I-6, 5.0L and the 5.8L V8 engines (and 4-speed automatics) from the previous generation – they’ve been replaced with 2.3 L EcoBoost I4 engine or a choice of 2.7 L or 3.0 L EcoBoost V6 twin-turbo engines
• The horsepower is bumped by 30 and the torque by 90 over the 4-cylinder Bronco
• 10-speed auto transmission
• There are 8 or is it TEN? trim levels – this is all very confusing!! Ford just added the Raptor package and numerous options within each trim so I’m not even going to go there!
• Bronco Wildtrak (Test Vehicle) comes standard with: 2.7 L EcoBoost V6,10-speed automatic transmission; Sasquatch Package + many other extras
• The Sasquatch Package includes: 35” Tires with 17″ beadlock-capable wheels; Electronic-locking front and rear differentials; High-clearance suspension; High-clearance fender flares; BILSTEIN Position- Sensitive Dampers; Trail Control, Trail Turn Assist and Trail One-Pedal Drive; hood graphics; Automatic On-Demand Engagement (2H, 4A, 4H and 4L)
• Moulded-In-Colour (Mic)Hardtop comes standard on Wildtrak (4-door or 2-door versions): Individually removable left and right front-row panels (includes cargo area storage bag – other bags are $450 per section); Removable full-width centre panel; Removable rear cap; Rear flip-up window with defroster, wiper and washer (see Picture)
• optional $795 on other models
How Does It Look?
• We LOVE the look of this Bronco! It’s remarkably close to the 1st generation Bronco, albeit considerably larger
• Not as thrilled with this particular colour – Area 51. It’s everywhere (not just Ford) and I’m sure people are going to be sick of seeing this colour before the end of 2023
• The doors and roof are easily removable without compromising to vehicles integrity
• Unique frameless doors make them easy to remove and store (Jeeps are not frameless, Defenders are not removable)
• The roof can be removed in sections – or entirely
• Side rearview mirrors are attached to the cowl of the vehicle, not the doors, so the driver can still use the mirrors with the doors removed (Jeep has the mirror on the doors)
What’s It Like Inside?
• VERY unique to say the least… very off-roady feel to everything. Since you can take the top off in Bronco, all the buttons are rubberized, not your traditional buttons – you get the impression you could power-wash the interior and it would be perfectly fine. The top of dashboard is plastic – not the rubbery-type I would have expected, and more fitting in the top-of-the-line Bronco, and is becoming more of a norm in any vehicle in the last 10 years or so
• The layout is great – it’s simple and everything is easy to understand and use at just a quick glance – without even glancing, I reached out to adjust the volume on the stereo and there right where I put my hand – was the volume dial – and that was within 2 minutes of jumping behind the wheel. While we’re on the topic of audio volume, the B&O system comes standard in Wildtrak is very good, and the heated steering wheel button is easily found – NOT stuck in a menu same place
• Test vehicle had SYNC4 with a massive (and superb) 12″ Colour LCD Touchscreen that includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto + FordPass Connect (Wi-Fi Hotspot) and Voice-activated touchscreen navigation system with pinch-to-zoom capability and Enhanced Voice Recognition and split-screen Information On Demand panel
• As a nice bonus, there’s a USB and USB-C on top of the dash as well as a GoPro screw hole for filming your adventures or using as a dash cam
• Trail Maps Off-Road Navigation App comes standard and feature curated trails powered by exclusive NeoTreks AccuTerra Maps, Trails Offroad trail guides and FunTreks trail guides (Navigation subscription not required). Hold the phone… According to the latest info from Ford – The 2022 Bronco line-up will lose its optional factory navigation system, which means that factory navigation has effectively been removed from the 2022 Ford Bronco line-up altogether. Hopefully its only temporary as a result of the chip shortage
• The front seats are quite comfortable and both front seats get power lumbar adjustment. Standard interior is: Marine Grade Vinyl – Front Bucket seats, 6-way Manual Driver & Passenger Seats, 2nd-Row, 60/40 Split-Fold. The test vehicle came with the optional Sandstone Leather/Vinyl Trimmed with Black Onyx. Heated, 10-way Power for the driver, 8-way power for front passenger, Second-row 60/40 split with recline
• If it wasn’t for those big-ass tires it would be very quiet inside, but the hum from them is very noticeable – regardless of speed. At Highway speeds it was very noticeable – until I cranked up the stereo – but I could still hear the tires, just a bit.
• The driver gets a customize-able 12.3” digital instrument cluster with a wealth of information
• There’s plenty of knee and legroom for rear passengers with a virtually flat floor
• The rear seats split 64/40 and sit in a theatre-style so rear passengers can get a good view out the front window
• The cargo area offers plenty of space, especially because of the squared-off shape of the Bronco
• Cargo volume behind first row (cu. ft.) – 77.6 (Hardtop) / 83 (Soft Top)
• Cargo volume behind second row (cu. ft.) – 35.6 (Hardtop) / 38.3 (Soft Top)
So How Quick Is It & How Does It Handle?
• It’s surprisingly quick – I was expecting it to have a bloated, heavy feel to it, but it was quite the opposite.
• It’s VERY easy to get up to 135 km/h and not even realize it – it’s smooth even over huge potholes that I went out of my way to find. Thank you Hamilton – I can always count on you for crappy roads!
• Steering is predictable and very well balanced – just the right weight and feel
• Braking is superb and very easy to modulate
• Drive modes include: Eco, Normal and Sport along with Snow/Sand Assist and Slippery. Switching to Sport mode – makes an instant difference to the performance, taking it from pretty quick to much quicker
• In Econo mode it feels like the gas pedal doesn’t want to be used, you have to push through the resistance quite noticeably. Fuel economy improved a little, but not enough to exchange a responsive truck into a lethargic snail off the line – stick to Normal mode
• Each monotube shock absorber has an external reservoir tube to allow for better cooling and extra fluid volume, especially at full compression
• Crank-in-gear function allows you to start a stalled engine while in gear – useful on steep inclines
• Includes Hill Descent Control
• Towing capacity: 3,500 lbs (1,588 kg)
• Trailer Sway Control is standard on all Bronco models
Top Speed: N/A
0-60 mph (sec): 6.2
Base Price (Wildtrak): $59,994 // As Tested: $69,389
Group 354A Includes:
Wildtrak series / high package / 12″ touchscreen / 360-degree camera / lux package / adaptive cruise control / B&O Audio system w/built-in navigation (3-yr) / heated steering wheel / wireless charging pad
+ HD modular Front bumper + Front steel bash plates – $1,000
+ Cargo Area Protector – $150
+ Tube Step – Powder Coated – $450
+ Brush Guard – $150
+ Towing Package $650
+ Floor Liners – Front/Rear $200
+ Keyless Entry Keypad – $250
+ Leather-trimmed/Vinyl Seats (Sandstone with Black Onyx) $2,495
Standard on every Bronco: Auto High-Beam Headlamps / Hill Start Assist / Post-Collision Braking / Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Forward Collision Warning with Dynamic Brake Support/ Rear View Camera with backup-assist grid lines
Mid Package (352A) adds: BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert / Lane-Keeping System (Lane-Keeping
Aid, Lane-Keeping Alert, Driver Alert System) / Reverse Sensing System
High Package (353A) adds: 360-Degree Camera / Forward Sensing System – $1,250
Lux Package adds: Adaptive Cruise Control / Evasive Steering Assist – $3,995
Note: The residual on the Bronco is really good – as I write this you can get a base Bronco for about $293 bi-weekly ($634.83 mth) on a 4 year lease. This test model is $414 bi-weekly or $897/month
• Rated at (L/100 km) Estimated: City – 14.0 / Highway – 13.9 / Combined – 13.9 (20 miles/gallon)
• Annual cost to operate (Transport Canada – 20,000 kms / $1.25/litre): $3,475
• We averaged 14.0 L/100 kms around town and 12.7 L/100 kms during highway driving at 120-130 km/h
• On longer distances on the highway – 11.6 L/100 kms was easily attainable (115-120 km/h)
• Basic: 3 years/60,000 km
• Powertrain: 5 years/100,000 km
• Roadside Assistance: 5 years /100,000 km
Jeep Wrangler, Land Rover Defender
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
• The Good: Great looking and drives way better than it has any right to – and it ain’t too bad on fuel either
• More Good: If you’re into off-roading – this thing is a BEAST
• The Bad: Price can get up there when you start adding options, but you get a lot of value for your money
• The Ugly: Very hard to actually find one to purchase/lease, production capacity was already maxed out in Feb 2022
What’s The Verdict?
I can’t tell you how much we LOVED this truck. It looks like it can drive over small cars with little effort, and it’s definitely the vehicle I’d want to be in, in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
Contrary to its looks, it’s a very comfortable truck to drive. It looks huge, but doesn’t drive like a big vehicle. Parking is an absolute breeze. We’re not off-road people, but this makes you want to take up a whole new recreation just to experience what it’s capable of. For those of us that aren’t off-roaders there’s the lower-end Bronco that looks just as good and is almost as capable, but for less money – that might be something worth looking at. For our horrible winters, the hard top is a downright bargain at only $795 (it deletes the soft top)… but don’t tell Ford that. For just shy of $70k you get a LOT for your money. You get a very responsive surge of power (and stopping), outstanding looks, respectable fuel economy and right now, something that is very rare. If you’re leasing, residual is very good – it’s something like 71% over 4 years!
Copyright © 2022 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland