2023 Ford Bronco Outer Banks: Is This the Best Trim for the Money?

As we blend into another year of Ford’s popular Bronco, the company keeps adding new models to spice things up. So for 2023, there are 14 trims. Naturally, the one considered the best is the most expensive, the Raptor. But is it? And could one of its middle trims, like the Outer Banks, actually be the best for the money? 

How does the Bronco Outer Banks compare to the Bronco Raptor?

2023 Ford Bronco
2023 Ford Bronco Outer Banks | Ford

The Bronco Outer Banks trim sits comfortably in the middle of the 14 trims that are offered. Bronco’s top-of-the-line Raptor sits at an MSRP of $73,780. That’s $6,000 more than the next one down, the Heritage Limited Edition Advanced. And it is $30,000 more than the Outer Banks trim. 

So let’s look at an Outer Banks/Outer Banks Advanced Bronco compared with the bookend Raptor and base models. The Outer Banks comes in both two-door and four-door versions. The two-door holds two in the rear, while the four-door can handle up to three. 

What engines are offered in the Bronco Raptor and Outer Banks?

2023 Ford Bronco
2023 Ford Bronco Outer Banks | Ford

It comes with the base 2.3-liter four-cylinder, which might be a turnoff, except that it has a very capable 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. And it offers a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs. The only downside we see to the four-banger is its City and Highway mileage combined of only 20 mpg. Especially around town, we expected better. 

You can also get the 315 hp 3.0-liter V6 engine, which is similar to the Raptor 3.0-liter, but with 418 hp. But that increase in power comes with a price. The average mileage is only 15 mpg. The Raptor selectable ten-speed automatic is the same as in the Outer Banks. And towing capacity is an additional 1,000 lbs, for 4,500 lbs overall. So there are plusses and minuses to the 2.3 and 3.0 Bronco engines. 

What off-road aids does the Bronco Outer Banks have?

2023 Ford Bronco
2023 Ford Bronco Outer Banks | Ford

Helping to make it a better package both off-road and on the street, the 2.3-liter is hooked to the same 10-speed automatic transmission. Splitting the gears 10 ways helps to spread out the torque on the street, yet its selectability makes it handy and up for off-road adventures. In other words, the base engine is not a compromise for either use. 

Aiding in off-road treks are 4WD, hi-lo gear selection, and automatic locking hubs. The 31-inch all-terrain tires, eight-inch ground clearance, and High-Speed Off-Road Suspension System or HOSS. It adds Trail Control and Trail Turn Assist. Ford offers more advanced off-road features for higher trims, but are you really going to challenge your Bronco to the worst trails and rocky surroundings? 

So is the Outer Banks more for the money?

2023 Ford Bronco
2023 Ford Bronco Outer Banks | Ford
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Is the Ford Bronco Outer Banks the Best Bronco Daily Driver?

The Outer Banks also offers up a fair dish of safety aids, like pre-collision. lane-keeping assist, and a terrain management system. There is also a cross-traffic alert, the Safety Canopy Side-Curtain with a rollover sensor, and six drive modes. 

The bottom line is that while the Raptor is optioned more aggressively for off-road challenges, the Outer Banks gives it a run for its money up to some of the most difficult off-road environments. But its road manners are more in keeping with a daily driver, as is the comfort level. We’d say the overall handling on the street is better than the rival Jeep Wrangler, while off-road prowess is on par with it. 

And overall, we definitely think the Outer Banks is a far better street and off-road SUV than the $30,000 differential between it and the Raptor would suggest. Street cred goes to the Bronco Raptor, but only for those that don’t know the difference.