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Better Buy: Jeep Wrangler vs. Ford Bronco? 

Better Buy: Jeep Wrangler vs. Ford Bronco? 

The long wait is finally over, the 2021 Ford Bronco has arrived, initiating what will be a historic rivalry for America’s off-road sales-champion title. The revamped  Ford Bronco is expected to face off with the latest generation of the famous Jeep Wrangler for the off-road vehicle lovers’ hearts. 


 

You might be wondering, is the 2021 Ford Bronco capable enough to outclass the Jeep Wrangler? We will know the answer to that question after we discuss both of their strengths and limitations. There are lots of similarities between the two automobiles, including the ability to remove doors and roofs, hardware for incredible off-road capability, and a wide range of available configurations. There are some differences though, and we will discuss them one-by-one. 

 

We will only be checking each vehicle’s features and specs, because experts have yet to reveal the driving dynamics of the new Bronco.

 

Pricing

2020 Jeep Wrangler

The entry level two-door 2020 Jeep Wrangler’s starting price is around $28,295. Climbing up the ladder to get the four-door Unlimited, and the base price shoots up to $31,800. Trading the six-speed manual transmission for an eight-speed automatic adds $2,500. Opting for the turbo four-cylinder  over the standard V6 adds another $1,500.

Climbing up the price ladder, there’s the supreme off-road-capable Rubicon Recon. Available only in four-door shape, the Sahara Altitude’s starting price is around $42,000, while a two-door Rubicon Recon raises the price to $43,450. You can opt for the four-door Rubicon recon with a starting price of $46,950. These are only starting prices and can increase when you consider more factory options and accessories, and a wide range of aftermarket products available for the Wrangler.

 

2021 Ford Bronco

The entry level model of the two-door Bronco has a starting price of around $28,500, and a destination charge of $1,495. The four-door base price though starts at $33,200. On the other hand, the $63,500 Bronco First Edition four-door, which is at the top range sold out a few hours after its introduction to the market. 

 

The mid-range Bronco Outer Banks models have a starting price of around $38,995 for the two-door variant, and $41,450 for the four-door version.

 

Ford is said to offer or include a couple of content packages on the Bronco. The Mid and Lux Packages add more value to this ride. They come standard on some trim levels and optional on others. The Sasquatch Package, aside from having a snazzy name, boasts front and rear electronic locking differentials, 17-inch black beadlock-capable wheels with 35-inch mud-terrain tires, upgraded shocks, higher ground clearance, and larger fender flares. Beadlock wheels let you lower tire pressure to optimize traction.

 

There haven’t been any announcements yet about the prices of option packages as well as what stand-alone options will be issued for the Bronco.

 

Trim Levels

 

2020 Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler comes in four basic trim levels. In addition, there’s an ever-changing array of special edition models. The two-door is available in Rubicon core models, Sport, and Sport S, while the Sahara trim was added just recently to the four-door’s list of basic trims.

 

Jeep has also issued Black and Tan, Willys Sport, Willys, Freedom, and Rubicon Recon models of both two- and four-door Wrangler body types. North Edition, Sport Altitude, Sahara Altitude, and High Altitude special-edition models are available with the four-door Wrangler Unlimited.

On a side note, the entry level Wrangler S is quite basic. 

 

Models based on the Rubicon have the most notable off-road capability although all Wranglers come standard with four-wheel drive. The High Altitude model is exclusive for buyers who prefer a blend of luxury and capability, with features including 20-inch wheels and Nappa leather upholstery.

 

2021 Ford Bronco

The 2021 Bonco comes in seven trim levels, ranging from the entry level model to the Bronco First Edition, which is already sold out in both two- and four-door body types. Two- and four-door models are being offered in all trim levels.

 

The Bronco entry level model comes standard with four-wheel drive, a seven-speed manual transmission with an off-road crawler gear, a 2.3-liter turbo-four, and an electronic five-mode terrain management system.

 

Bronco Big Bend is next up on the trim level ladder. It adds 32-inch tires, 17-inch aluminum wheels, LED fog lights, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift. 

 

Another off-road-focused trim level is the Bronco Black Diamond, which offers vinyl seats and a floor that can be washed out. It includes a steel rear bumper and a heavy-duty front bumper. While bash plates protect its valuable underbody parts, Rock rails shield its quarter panels.

 

Bronco Wildtrak is configured as a high-speed desert runner. It has standard equipment from the Outer Banks model, also several items that are optional on the lower trim model. All Wildtraks run on a 2.7-liter engine, 10-speed automatic transmission, improved four-wheel-drive system, and seven-mode terrain management system. Cloth seats with front seat heaters and a carpeted floor come standard. The High and Lux option packages as well as leather upholstery are optional.

 

The Bronco Badlands is intended for serious off-roaders, which is the lineup’s counterpart for the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. The Badlands include much of the Black Diamond trim equipment along with an electric front sway-bar disconnect, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and an upgraded off-road suspension. The Sasquatch Package, the Mid and High, leather upholstery, and Lux Packages can also be added.

 

The Bronco First Edition comes with every option package available, a Safari bar, the Sasquatch tire and wheel group, exclusive interior touches, and a 10-way power-adjustable  driver’s seat. It sold out hours after its introduction.

 

Open-Air Driving

 

2020 Jeep Wrangler

The 2020 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited boasts removable tops and doors, offering an open-air driving experience like no one else, until the Bronco came along. A number of factory and aftermarket roof and door options are available, including half and tube doors.

 

The Wrangler’s standard doors are quite larger and more unwieldy to remove and store compared to those in the Bronco due to having full window frames. Hardtop Wranglers are equipped with a pair of front “Freedom Panels” that can be easily removed by a single person. Taking off the entire roof takes a little longer, and requires two people. The Jeep’s windshield can be folded forward onto the hood. Jeep prepared a molded storage area for all the Torx bolts that have to be removed when pulling the roof off or lowering the windshield.

 

2021 Ford Bronco

The Bronco can be converted into a convertible without much effort. Two-door models come with either a three- or four-piece modular roof, while four-doors use a four-piece setup. The quarter windows of the Bronco can be swiftly removed without removing the roof.

 

Unlike the Wrangler, the frameless doors of the Bronco are much less cumbersome to remove and store onboard in their included protective bags. You still have use of the side-view mirrors even after the doors are removed since they are mounted on the front fenders instead of the front doors.

 

Performance

2020 Jeep Wrangler

Depending on the trim level, varying drivetrains are available for the 2020 Jeep Wrangler. The standard engine is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that is identical to the engines that power everything from the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica to the 2020 Dodge Charger. It produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque for the Wrangler.

 

The V6 is linked to a six-speed manual transmission, while an eight-speed automatic transmission is available. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara automatic with a V6 that includes eTorque mild-hybrid assist, which helps provide smooth starts and slightly enhanced fuel efficiency.

 

All models can be equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo-four that produces 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. On the Unlimited Sahara automatic, even the optional four-cylinder turbo can be fitter with the eTorque mild-hybrid system.

 

A new addition to the Wrangler for 2020 is a 3.0-liter turbo diesel. Even though it only produces 260 horsepower, it makes a massive 442 pound-feet of torque. According to experts, a lot of off-roaders prefer having torque than power when the going gets rough. It is matched solely to the eight-speed automatic, and it is exclusively available on the Wrangler Unlimited.

 

2021 Ford Bronco

To start with, Ford will offer a choice of two engines for the 2021 Bronco. The entry level engine is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four that produces a Ford-estimated 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It is paired to either a manual or 10-speed automatic transmission.

 

The manual transmission of the Bronco has seven forwards speeds, which includes a crawler gear intended for providing optimal torque and limited control in severe off-road driving.

 

You can upgrade to a potent 2.7-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 that makes an expected 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. It is available only with the 10-speed automatic. Even though it makes more horsepower compared to the engines you can currently get for a Wrangler, it does not rival the Wrangler EcoDiesel’s torque rating.

 

Off-Road Capability

 

2020 Jeep Wrangler

All the Jeep Wrangler comes standard with one of three available four-wheel-drive systems. All three possess two-speed transfer cases for low-range capability. The Unlimited Sahara boasts a four-wheel-auto mode that can engage four-wheel drive automatically when necessary. 

 

The Wrangler makes use of third-generation Dana solid axles in the front and rear, which is a notable differentiator between this Jeep and the new Bronco, which utilizes independent front suspensionalso known as IFS. A solid axle offers certain benefits, such as generally simpler and more durable, an IFS, which is significantly more complicated, better ground clearance, can give a smoother ride at speeds above crawl, and unrestricted independent movement of each front wheel.

 

The maximum slope you can drive forward without hitting your front bumper or the approach angle, varies from 41.1 to 44 degrees depending on the trim level and model. On the other hand, the maximum steepness of a ramp you can drive off without striking the rear bumper or the departure angle, varies from 35.9 to 37 degrees.

 

The breakover angle of a vehicle determines its ability to drive over obstacles without being stranded with all wheels off the ground or high-centering. It is determined by measuring the angle starting at the bottom of the front and rear tires to the lowest body point at the midpoint between the wheels. The four-door Wrangler Unlimited’s breakover angle ranges from 20.3 to 22.6 degrees. Even though the two-door Wrangler’s wheelbase is somewhat shorter, its breakover angles are better, it is around 25 to 27.8 degrees.

 

The ground clearance of this Jeep is around 9.7 to 10.8 inches, it varies per model. When properly equipped, it has a maximum published water fording depth of 30 inches. The Rubicon’s crawl ratio of 84.2:1 was top of the class until the Bronco emerged.

 

2021 Ford Bronco

Four-wheel drive comes standard on all 2021 Ford Bronco models, though Ford offers two systems. The entry level four-wheel-drive package boasts a two-speed electronic transfer case with shift-on-the-fly capability. The 4×4 system utilizes a two-speed electromechanical setup with an automatic on-demand four-wheel-drive mode.

 

Available techs include Trail control, which works like a slow-speed cruise control with the ability to control power it delivers to each wheel. Trail Turn Assist delivers more torque to the outer wheels than the inside wheels to enhance off-road maneuverability. The Trail One-Pedal controls braking and acceleration while rock crawling with just a single pedal.

 

The introductory specs of the Bronco show its maximum ground clearance ranging from 8.4 to 11.6 inches, it varies per tire selection. The approach angle for the two- and four-door body styles is around 35.5 to 43.2 degrees. There is a difference in their departure angles though, with the two-doors ranging from 29.8 to 37.2 degrees and the four-door is around 39.7 to 37 degrees.

 

Verdict:

There’s not much difference with regards to pricing. They both offer specs that can really attract off-roaders. However, there’s still some difference especially when it comes to performance. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler’s base engine could be less potent compared to Bronco’s but it packs a lot of Torque, which could make a difference in tough terrains.