Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
We’ve been rightfully complaining for years about vehicle interiors. So much dark, cheap plastic dripped over dark, cheap rubber. So much is bad and boring to the bone. And the inside of a car is important. It’s where we spend the majority of our time. You can’t take that lightly. Ford agrees and has taken advantage of the space in the new Bronco to add design touches that celebrate the old Broncos.
There hasn’t been a new Bronco since 1996, back when cars and life were arguably much simpler than today, but Ford doesn’t want you to forget about those old trucks. From the bucking bronco logo on the tailgate down to the tie-downs protruding from the fenders, there’s a little old truck hiding everywhere on the new Bronco. Just like Jeep putting spiders on its Renegades, and little Willys grilles all over the Wrangler, the Ford Bronco wishes to compete in every way with other off-roaders, even just across the mucky swamp of dark plastics.
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The first thing you’ll notice about the Ford Bronco are these giant circular headlight housings. They’re big, but they aren’t new. In 1965, when the first-generation Ford Bronco debuted, it wore giant circle halogen headlamps with smaller amber signals just to the inside of the grille. We suspect the design of the new Bronco carries that similar DNA, but this will also help the truck look less like a Jeep at night.
Horse in the Headlights
Similar to Jeep’s iconic seven-slot grille found in the headlight housings of the Renegade, Wrangler, and Compass. This bucking bronco is lightly etched into the plastic at the edge of LED daytime running headlights.
The shiny hardware holding parts of the dashboard and the rest of the interior together are aluminum Torx bolts that read Bronco, MNP 8.8. A metric bolt that’s the equivalent of SAE Grade 5 hardware.
The big bucking bronco has been fixed to the Ford Bronco since its first days back in the mid-1960s. Although the horse has changed its dance over the Bronco’s lifetime, today it’s kicking harder and higher than ever. Ford’s ad slogan for this debut is “Built Wild.” The bucking bronco’s rear hooves are lifted, unlike the Ford Mustang pony that looks like it’s running to a trough full of apples.
Another bucking Bronco is found in the rear cargo area. It illuminates like other interior lights, and sits between two white LED cargo lights.
These special bolts, with Bronco stamped into their heads, are found in areas that can be removed and replaced with parts from Ford’s factory-backed accessory catalog, or with future aftermarket part availability.
Lift Me Baby
No place is too strange or tucked away for an Easter Egg. The words “Lift Me Baby” are pressed into the fender liners. Even though the Bronco Wildtrak comes standard with 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels and 35-inch mud terrain tires, Ford knows people will go taller, bigger, and wilder.
U13, U14, U15
In 1966, the first of the Ford Broncos could be found galloping across the U.S., with 105-hp straight-six engines and manual transmissions. Shoot, back then gas stations were still pumping leaded fuel into cars. Under the fuel tank door of the 2021 Bronco, you’ll see three early Broncos with their respective body codes underneath. The U13 roadster, U14 half-cab, and U15 wagon.
The rear cargo space behind the second row has four wide tiedown loops for securely stowing items. A small lasso is printed at each tiedown, with a big bucking Bronco in the center of the floor. Like the popular Clint Eastwood TV series Rawhide theme song goes, My heart’s calculating, my true love will be waitin’, be waiting at the end of my ride.
Nearly as wide as the 1980s Bronco II’s 15.0-inch wheels, an available 12.0-inch touchscreen system features off-road trail navigation that works without cell service. It’s also host to other off-road assistance, including an inclinometer that shows you how sideways, forward, or completely backward an incline you’re at while climbing crazy terrain. The inclinometer shows a first-gen Bronco doing sixth-generation Bronco stuff.
Designed & Engineered
Both the two-door and four-door models of the 2021 Ford Bronco will be built at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. The design work, however, took place about 20 miles east at the Blue Oval’s offices in Dearborn, Michigan.
Here the design team nailed a bunch of personality to a baseball bat and beat the new Bronco senseless. Nothing else looks similar, not even the Jeep Wrangler it hopes to defeat. Like the round headlights, its thin vertical taillights are pure Bronco. Unlike earlier Broncos, the new one is chock full of LED lights, but the sharp edges at the bottom of the lights are similar to what the older trucks had. Even the white reverse lamp sits deep inside the housing, like before. The placement of the blue oval at the lower right of the tailgate is also a big 1990s Bronco vibe.
Go Over Any Terrain
The original Ford Bronco was nicknamed the Go Over Any Terrain vehicle, or G.O.A.T. Ford recently filed to trademark the acronym, which it’s using in its Bronco to select off-road modes using this rotary dial. There will be seven selectable modes offered including Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand for normal driving with Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl for off-road driving.
Just like the button in the Jeep Wrangler, the recirculation button on the Ford Bronco is simply an outline of itself. Is it corny if we say buttons like this are a nice touch? Yes.
Reminiscent of the first-generation Bronco’s tall pointy fenders, the new Ford Bronco incorporates the old look with what it calls Trail Sights. They’re tie-downs you can strap stuff to, for instance ORV flags, windshield cables, or even high-lift jacks. These tie-downs are limited to 150 pounds, so don’t go using them as recovery points for getting pulled out of the mud. Unless you want to end up on YouTube.
We’ve found a total of five broncos inside and out of the new Ford Bronco. This one is only available on Broncos with the ten-speed automatic transmission.
Push to Start
This isn’t so much a throwback to yesterday, as it is a reminder of today. The ignition button for the new Bronco looks familiar, because it looks just like one of the headlights on the front. Maybe just a reminder just how far cars have come from the days of two separate keys, each of which would either unlock or start the truck, never both.
Door and Roof Removal: Bronco vs. Wrangler
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