5 things to know about the 2021 Ford Bronco

Hype rarely delivers. The 2021 Ford Bronco might be the exception. It’s the most hyped vehicle of the year, but it appears to exceed its promise. 

Last Friday, Ford invited media to rove over the most hyped vehicle of the year in a brief static display of two four-door soft-top models. Without driving impressions and with limited hands-on time before consumers showed up, I have to couch my enthusiasm. But 25 years has been a long time coming, and the Bronco epitomizes the perfect post-pandemic vehicle. It’s even more impressive in person. 

My time with the Bronco clarified some details and backed up the hype. Here’s what I learned.  

Hey Bulldog!

When I tested the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, passersby waved at me and praised the looks of my new Bronco. Not one of the dozen or so commentators cared when I clarified that it was the smaller Bronco Sport. If the Bronco Sport generated that kind of response, the Bronco might frenzy audiences like The Beatles.  

The demo Bronco models were a Badlands in Area 51 paint, which is an almost pastel blue in the sunlight, and a First Edition in Cactus Gray that smothers light in a good way. A wheelbase of 116.1 inches pushes the big wheels to the corners, and with a ground clearance of at least 8.3 inches, it rides high yet the boxy bod keeps it squat. It looks wide and stout, and rides on thick muscular legs like a bulldog. The demo Badlands had the optional 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels wrapped in 33-inch Goodyear mud terrain tires. The tailgate hinges to the driver side and features a sturdy rear bumper wide enough to plant a boot or two.  

From every angle, the squat Bronco on display looked better than in pictures and looked best with the top down.

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands

Carry That Weight

The product specialists accommodated most requests, including popping the hood and starting the 2.3-liter turbo-4in the Badlands model. It makes 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, but it sounds more understated than it looks. In the bay of this bulldog, it sounded like a Shih Tzu. The same engine powers the Ford Ranger, so it should be plenty capable. In a first drive ride along, Kirk Bell, senior editor of Motor Authority, said, “…the Bronco cuts through the sand with ease and some combination of power and Shaffer’s right foot make this vehicle feel like it has plenty of grunt.” The available 310-hp 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 borrowed from the F-150 pickup promises even more power.

Come Together

The doors can be removed by one person, stowed in bags, and stacked in the cargo area in less than 10 minutes, we estimate. Ford product specialists demonstrated taking off the rear door only, which weighs 48 pounds compared to the front doors at 61 pounds. With the windows down on the First Edition trim, the Ford guy slipped the felt-lined bag over the rear door, ratcheted a longer top bolt and a shorter bottom bolt, and removed the door in less than a minute.

Taking off the doors of the 2021 #FordBronco seems pretty easy. Rear doors weigh 48 lbs, front 61 lbs.
Limited to 45s here, but that’s all the tech needed. pic.twitter.com/D0XYu1JWxl

The doors have a scoop that says “lift” so you know where to grip; the bag has a diagram and six hand holds. The tool bag, about as big as a cargo pants pocket, has zip pockets and a cone-shaped thread for the bottom hinge that helps line up the larger top hinge so one person can put the door back on. 

Day Tripper

Two latches on the front and the absence of a center roll bar make dropping the cloth top easy from either row of seats. Two velcro straps that are not connected to the frame secure the top from bouncing around, but I’d prefer them to be fixed to the structure so they’re not as easy to misplace or lose. 

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands

You can drive with it folded back on the roof, or remove the rear quarter windows and lower it all the way into the cargo area by depressing a lever on the driver’s side of the frame. It’s easy enough to do with one hand. The three windows snap on the sides, velcro up top, and slide off on bottom rails. It takes about 30 seconds to collapse the roof; taking off the windows and retracting the roof might take a minute max.

This is how easy it is to drop the top on the 2021 #FordBronco pic.twitter.com/UlrCGnJfC3

Dig It: Some more questions, answered 

On a Twitter thread, Ford North America Product Communications Manager Mike Levine answered several questions from Bronco reservation holders. We learned two key facts. 

First, buyers can’t get the Sasquatch package with manual transmission at launch, but Levine tweeted, “Manual Sasquatch on the way later” in 2022. Second, no white hard top is available for 2021, but if you were to buy the white top when it becomes available it will fit on the 2021 because the modular hardtops are interchangeable.

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