The Ford Bronco will wear a few hats: reviving an iconic model, tussling with the Wrangler for off-road-oriented SUV supremacy, headlining a new sub-brand that includes the smaller Bronco Sport. No one expected that brief to include miserly fuel economy, and with the official EPA fuel economy numbers spilling out a little earlier than expected (by way of Bronco Nation, which has a full breakdown of the economy numbers for all trims), that’s definitely proven out.
The question remains as to whether what mpg the Bronco manages to eke out will be sufficient for buyers squaring it up with the Wrangler, which is offered in plug-in hybrid 4XE form—something Ford has no answer for, yet.
Before getting into the numbers, we spoke to a Ford representative, who confirmed the numbers are accurate and are expected to hit the EPA website in the near future. Ford released this statement regarding the fuel economy release:
“Bronco brand customers demand the highest-levels of off-road capability and performance. With off-road competition-proven EcoBoost engines and class-exclusive transmission offerings, our all-new Bronco two-door and four-door models deliver the best four-cylinder horsepower and torque, and the best available six-cylinder gasoline horsepower and torque in its class.”
The 2021 Bronco with the best gas mileage comes equipped with the entry-level 2.3-liter engine with either 10-speed automatic or manual in Base, Big Bend, or Outer Banks trim. It manages 20 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. The most efficient Bronco with the available 2.7-liter V-6 sees mileage fall to 18 city, 20 highway, and 19 combined. The least efficient Bronco variant overall is any 2.7-liter equipped model with the Sasquatch package, which nets an even 17 mpg across the board.
2021 Ford Bronco Fuel Economy (city/hwy/combined)
- Bronco 2.3L I-4: 16-20/17-22/17-21 mpg
- Bronco 2.7L V-6: 17-18/17-20/17-19 mpg
The comparison to the Jeep Wrangler, with a plethora of engine options to choose from, isn’t particularly kind to the Bronco. Using four-door, non-hybrid Wranglers as a comparison, to be as generous as possible to the Bronco, the Wrangler is ahead in every category until you get to the 392 V-8—no surprise there. Until now, no one has ever held the Wrangler in much esteem when it comes to fuel economy, what with its porky curb weight and atrocious aerodynamics.
A 2021 Jeep Wrangler four-door EcoDiesel is the mileage champ, with 22 city, 29 highway, and 25 combined. The run-of-the-mill 2.0-liter turbo four-door comes in at 21 city, 24 highway, and 22 combined—beating Ford’s 2.3L numbers by 1, 2, and 1 mpg respectively. The 3.6-liter V-6 beats the Ford’s (admittedly much more powerful) 2.7, too, returning 20 city, 24 highway, and 21 combined.
It’s not entirely apples-to-apples, as the Ford engines are more powerful than their closest equivalents in the Jeep. We just found out that the Bronco’s engines make more power than originally estimated. The 2.3-liter now officially makes 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, handily beating the Jeep 2.0’s 270 hp and 295 lb-ft (as well as the 3.6-liter V-6) and making the fuel economy delta a little easier to understand.
Meanwhile, the Jeep’s 3.6-liter, naturally-aspirated Pentastar V-6 (285 hp, 260 lb-ft) can’t come close to either the 2.3-liter or the 2.7-liter twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost’s output of 330 hp and 415 lb-ft.
The bottom line is that Ford has taken a different tack with the Bronco, offering more powerful engine offerings that suffer a bit at the pump. In that, it’s a bit like its smaller sibling, the Bronco Sport, managing less impressive fuel economy numbers but more capability and power. Consumers will vote with their dollars about whether Ford’s strategy is superior to Jeep’s—and it’s just another area for us to analyze when we finally get our hands on a Bronco for real-world testing.
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