Trucks & SUVs

2021 Ford Bronco Preorders Prove Buyers Want to Revive a Dying Feature

The 2021 Ford Bronco is proving many things that the car market has been circling for years. If you build tough, boxy 4x4s for a reasonable price, people will want it. If you give off-roaders a million accessories, we will get stoked. Most recently, the Bronco preorders prove that if you give people a rad SUV with a manual transmission option, many of them will take it. 

An image of a 2021 Ford Bronco parked outdoors.
2021 Ford Bronco | Ford

Does the 2021 Ford Bronco come in Manual?

Not only is the Bronco available with a brand-new seven-speed manual transmission, but preorders show that it is wildly popular. The seven-speed gearbox is such a cool feature for an SUV, especially in 2021. While almost every manufacturer has axed this feature from its lineup, Ford decided to step up with the seven-speed. The gearbox is more like a six-speed with a crawl gear, but hey, who’s counting?

interior shot of a 2021 Ford Bronco with a stick shift
Stick shift in the 2021 Ford Bronco | Ford

Gear Patrol reports that one of the designers at Ford mentioned that an astounding 18 percent of new Ford Bronco owners choose the manual transmission over the 10-speed automatic. This is fantastic news for the car nerds who have been watching the three-pedal cars quickly evaporate before our eyes. 

What about Jeep Wranglers? Don’t those come in manual? 

The Jeep Wrangler is one of the few models where manual transmissions still exist and feel commonplace among buyers. In reality, only about 10 percent of Jeep buyers go for the manual these days. While 18 percent for the Bronco may not sound like a massive number, it is significant considering the king of holding on to stick shifts only has that few. 

An image of a Ford Bronco parked outdoors.
Ford Bronco | Ford

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The 10 percent that represents new manual Jeeps is thankfully high enough to keep it as an option, but like the Bronco, it is still a limiting option. For instance, that percentage is not really high enough for Jeep to offer a manual version of newer models like the EcoDiesel. We will have to see how well manual fares as Jeep continues to press forward with EVs and hybrids. 

Every stick shift car sold is a win for the car nerds 

These days, the only models greater than the Bronco’s 18 percent in stick shift are the Mazda Miata MX-5, the Subaru WRX, and VW Golf GTI. It used to be that Mini Coopers would be on that list, but as time has worn on, even the Mini has fallen victim to the lazier shifter. 

Five Ford Bronco Concepts showed up to the Easter Jeep Safari this week
Convoy of Ford Broncos | Ford

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The Bronco is a strange one, though, becuase the configuration in which you can have the stick shift version is fairly limited. If you do some daydreaming with the online configurator on Ford’s website, you’ll see how easily the stick-shift option gets taken away. 

As we know, the stick only comes with the 2.3-liter four-cylinder motor. The bigger V6 can only be had with the automatic. But other features will take the option away, like some of the fancier trim packages and certain axel and suspension configurations like the sasquatch package. Although the more obvious enthusiast trims, like the sasquatch package, might be open to change the transmission limitations with time. Ford recently tweeted that it was open to feedback in regards to that particular trim. 

Can the Bronco save the stick shift?

It’s hard to say how much this can really change things. On the one hand, if more and more Bronco buyers opt for the stick, Ford will likely continue to value the option and keep making more of them. On the other hand, if Ford expands the stick to the more popular configurations like the V6, we would definitely see more people buying the stick. 

It’s a chicken and egg thing; Ford will make more stick shifts if we buy more of them, and we will buy more stick shifts if Ford makes more of them. We know now that the manual gang is doing their part with Bronco, and I am quite proud for one.