If you need a good off-roading SUV, the Jeep Wrangler is one of the best. The base model comes with low-range gearing, standard 4WD, and its suspension can be optimized for a lift up to 12.9 inches. It also has a good lineup of engines, even boasting a 470-hp V8 in the Rubicon model. However, it has some stiff competition with the Ford Bronco.
For many years, no other SUV could really match the Jeep Wrangler’s appeal and styling. Things changed for the 2021 model year when the Ford Bronco was finally released. Here are five reasons it’s a better buy than the Jeep Wrangler.
1. Better on-road capabilities
According to Edmunds, the Ford Bronco feels easier to maneuver despite its wider dimensions. While neither of these vehicles has the most pliable suspension, testers preferred the ride inside the Bronco. The Jeep Wrangler can also be a hassle to drive because of its rigid recirculating-ball steering setup.
However, Edmunds testers determined that the Jeep Wrangler’s off-roading abilities were slightly better than the Ford Bronco’s. For one thing, its shorter wheelbase gives it superior rock-crawling skills. Testers also found that the Wrangler had superior steering articulation and traction over dirt-covered trails thanks to its solid front axle.
2. Interior styling
Wheels appreciated that all the Ford Bronco’s off-roading controls were easy to locate from the center stack. This SUV’s longer wheelbase might somewhat compromise its off-roading prowess, but it also provides more legroom to its passengers. Still, Road and Track pointed out that the base trim’s cloth seats could use more support.
The same could also be said for the Jeep Wrangler, and both SUVs have interiors primarily composed of plastic. However, the Wrangler’s layout of controls is more confusing. It also has a smaller cargo capacity and a cramped rear row if you opt for the two-door model.
3. More technology
The Ford Bronco comes with a standard 8-in touchscreen that can be upgraded to a 12-inch screen in higher trims. A more expensive Bronco might also feature a 12-inch gauge cluster, a wireless charging pad, and navigation. Smartphone integration comes included in every trim.
Every Ford Bronco also has power windows, but the Jeep Wrangler is still rocking the manual levers even in the 2023 model year. Its biggest touchscreen is only 8.5 inches, and the higher trims don’t have a lot of extra techs.
The Ford Bronco has a handful of advanced safety features, while the base Wrangler only has a backup camera. The Wrangler also doesn’t have different drive modes nor an available off-roading camera system like the one on select Bronco models.
4. Better engine choices
Excluding the aggressive Rubicon and Raptor trims, Wheels says that the Bronco’s powertrain options are more refined. The base engine is a 300-hp turbo-four, with the opportunity to add a twin-turbo 330-hp V6. Both SUVs come with standard manual transmissions, but the Bronco has one extra gear.
However, Wheels says the Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s powertrain might be more attractive for some drivers. With an electric motor assisting a 2.0-liter turbo-four, this powertrain generates 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It can be driven for 21 miles on electric power before it switches to gas-only mode.
5. Exterior styling
Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but the Bronco’s wide stance and aggressive grille certainly enhance its rugged character. The Jeep Wrangler’s outward appearance looks more utilitarian, but it does have a wider range of paint colors.
The Jeep Wrangler is still a good SUV if you want a no-frills adventure off the beaten track. However, drivers accustomed to more convenient features and enhanced off-roading technology will likely prefer the Ford Bronco.