The 2023 Ford Bronco is the most technologically advanced off-roader available today. If you want to go off the beaten path, there aren’t many vehicles that can go further. Although nowadays most people drive their off-road vehicles as a status symbol – also called as mall crawlers, the Bronco was a huge step forward not just in off-road capability, but with much better road manners as a daily driver.
The exterior design follows the traditional hardcore off-roader trend, like the Jeep Wrangler. It’s bulky, boxy and masculine. There is no Ford badge in the front, and round-shaped headlights are connected through the DRLs and Bronco badge located in the front grille. There are tow hooks readily available in the front, and most importantly, it has a pretty short and tiny metal front bumper to offer maximum approach angle.
From the side profile, as you can see, our tester is the 2-Door version. The wheelbase is much shorter than the 4-door, which is the ideal layout for maximum break-over angle, meaning that you are less likely to scrape or hit the belly compared to the 4-door version. The Bronco comes with skid plates for maximum protection in case you push it too hard. A shorter wheelbase also means it is much better when it comes to tight turns, so the 2-Door would be the optimal choice for technical trails.
The Bronco comes with two different types of rooftop choices, but all Broncos look exactly the same from the rear end. All of them come with a 2-piece tailgate which also carries the spare tire, another indication that this is a proper off-road machine. Our tester had the hard top which comes standard, and it is a better choice if you are planning to take longer trips as it offers lower noise, vibration and harshness levels. You can still remove the top if you really want, but it takes a lot more effort than a soft top, which sets you back an additional $3,100 CAD. All Broncos come with removable doors if you like to feel the wind in your hair.
The rugged feeling and design language continue in the interior, and it looks undoubtedly, Ford. It comes with a giant 12″ LCD Capacitive Touchscreen with Ford’s latest SYNC 4 infotainment system. I like how easy to use the latest infotainment system, and all menu buttons are big enough with a great screen and camera resolution, but it occasionally stutters especially when you try to go through the menus rapidly. The Bronco also comes with a half analog, half digital gauge cluster that does not look as modern as the main infotainment screen. In typical Ford fashion, it is very easy to read and shows a lot of different but useful information to the driver.
Aside from the screens, it is a pretty analog experience which is the right choice for this type of car. I like the fact that everything feels quite solid and nothing will break or wear down in the long term. You can utilize the dashboard really well, you do not have a huge storage area in the center console, but you can place small items on top of the dash. There is also a charging port, which allows you to place your phone, or electronic items. Ford decided to keep off-road features mostly separate from the infotainment system, and they are all located on the top of the dashboard.
There are no power seats, but I still find the front seats exceptionally comfortable even on longer trips, mainly due to the thick padding that offers a lot of support. At 6’1″, I had no issues getting in and out of the vehicle, but the extra ground clearance might be a problem if you are a short adult. I have also had no issues with the legroom and headroom in the front. The seating position is also quite upright, and the visibility is great. It definitely has the road presence and you feel that behind the steering wheel.
The rear seats though, that’s where you start to feel this is a short wheelbase 2-door vehicle. First of all, it is a 4-seater, so there is no middle seat. Getting in and out is a challenge, and you will not be able to find enough legroom. This should not be a deal breaker as if you are shopping for a 2-door off-roader, your priorities are different. 4-door Bronco should give you the practicality that you would need if you are planning to carry multiple passengers on a regular basis.
The trunk space is also compromised when the rear seats are up. It comes with 22.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which can go up to 52.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. It is also not easy to get a flat surface to carry large items, you have to unlatch the bottom cushion first, then have to go back to the trunk to release the rear seats to fold them down. You have to make the right choice if you need more practicality – cargo space, or better off-road capability, thankfully Ford got you covered by offering both two and four-door versions with a lot of optional packages.
Speaking of optional packages, there are tons of different trims and drivetrain options that can be overwhelming for some buyers. Our tester is the Badlands trim which is considered an upper-mid off-road oriented version. It also has the Sasquatch Package which comes with 17″ black aluminum beadlock capable wheels, mud-terrain 35″ tire setup, a shorter 4.7 final drive ratio with electronic-locking front and rear differentials, and higher ground clearance due to the taller suspension components. Our tester with the 35″ tire gives 43.2 degrees of approach angle, 29 degrees of break-over angle and 37.2 degrees of departure angle. Unique to Bronco, the Trail Turn Assist brakes one wheel to reduce the turning radius, which works exceptionally well on a tight technical trail.
As expected, it offers four-wheel-drive standard even in the most basic trim, and a 2-speed transfer case with a low gear mode, but the Badlands trim gives you the extra off-road features to go over any type of surface. There are also two engine options available. The base engine is the 4-cylinder 2.3 litre turbocharged Ecoboost engine that puts around 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque with the premium fuel. If you need more performance out of your Bronco, the twin-turbo 2.7 litres V6 Ecoboost engine is also available which generates 330 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. Both engines can take regular fuel if premium gas isn’t available. The 2.3L Ecoboost engine also comes with a 7-Speed manual transmission, but the 2.7L engine only comes with a 10-Speed automatic transmission.
Unlike its biggest rival, the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco comes with an independent front suspension for a couple of reasons. The most important one is the ride quality. The Bronco offers a much more refined driving experience. Though on the other hand, hardcore off-roaders swear by the solid axle in the front mainly because of the durability, articulation and simplicity reasons. It is true that independent front suspension is more complicated as there are more moving parts, it gives you much more accurate feedback, wheel control, precise steering and reduces unsprung weight.
Ford’s solution was easy. While the Bronco still comes with a solid axle in the back, one of the main factors that reduce the flexibility of an independent suspension setup is the stabilizer bars and which can be disabled electronically with the Bronco. It also offers more wheel travel than the Wrangler, and that’s what matters more when you are pushing your off-roader to its limits. It can also tow more than the Wrangler. Our tester, the Badlands 2-door can tow up to 3500 lbs, which is significantly more than its main 2-door rival.
Although it has an independent suspension in the front, you should set your expectations accordingly. The Bronco is still an off-roader, mud & terrain tires are loud, and the rear solid axle isn’t ideal if you are looking for refinement. Despite how good the suspension tune is, long highway trips can be painful. However, the Bilstein shocks do a great job keeping Bronco’s wheels on the ground even at high-speed off-road runs, it gives a lot of feedback and confidence to the driver. There are several different off-road terrain modes for optimal traction. Unlike the other off-roaders, you can also activate the rear locking differential, and other off-road features even in 2WD mode. The only limitation is that you have to be in the Low gearing to activate the locking front differential.
There aren’t many off-roaders that can offer more than what a Bronco is capable of because the Bronco offers much more than being just a good off-roader. Ford studied the rivals and the market really well and designed the Bronco with fewer compromises. Of course, it is an excellent off-road machine, but it also feels modern, comes with modern drivetrain options, great tech, distinctive looks, tons of different trims and customizable features to choose from. The Bronco is a better lifestyle vehicle compared to its rivals, and that’s where it stands out against the competition more than its off-road capabilities.
|2694cc, twin-turbocharged V6
|Transmission & Drivetrain
|330 hp @ 5250 rpm
|415 lb-ft @ 3100 rpm
|4975 lb – 2256 kg
|Fuel Economy (Combined)
|15 MPG – 15.6L / 100 km
|Price (as tested)