Critics Agree: The 2021 Ford Bronco Is Absolutely the Real Deal

Various production and supply issues delayed it, but the 2021 Bronco is finally here. To call Ford’s reborn SUV ‘in demand’ is almost an understatement, given how quickly potential buyers rushed to reserve it. And that’s without really knowing what the new Ford Bronco was like to drive. Now, though, the first reviews are in—and the consensus is, the wait was worth it.

How much is the 2021 Ford Bronco you want?

A blue 2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Black Diamond with Sasquatch Package and light bar on a rocky mountain
2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Black Diamond with Sasquatch Package and light bar | Ford

Even beyond its accessory catalog, the 2021 Ford Bronco offers a wide selection of trims and options packages. That doesn’t include the Bronco Sport, though, which is a unibody crossover that’s unrelated to the body-on-frame Bronco.

Ignoring the sold-out limited-edition First Edition, the 2021 Ford Bronco has six trim levels to choose from. And all of them are available in two- or four-door trim. In the list below, the two-door price is listed before the four-door one (none include destination):

  • Base: $28,500; $33,200
  • Big Bend: $33,385; $35,880
  • Black Diamond: $36,050; $38,545
  • Outer Banks: $38,955; $41,450
  • Badlands: $42,095; $44,590
  • Wildtrak: $46,980; $49,475

Every 2021 Ford Bronco trim but the Wildtrak comes standard with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Meanwhile, the Wildtrak gets the otherwise optional 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V6. On premium fuel, the former engine makes 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, and the latter makes 330 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. You can run them on lower-octane gas, but the 2.3-liter engine loses 25 hp and 10 lb-ft while the V6 loses 15 hp and 5 lb-ft, MotorTrend notes.

Regardless of trim, every 2021 Bronco has 4WD with a two-speed transfer case. As for the 10-speed automatic transmission, it’s compatible with both engines and standard with V6 models. However, the four-cylinder base Ford Bronco, Big Bend, Black Diamond, and Badlands come standard with a crawler-gear-equipped six-speed manual.

What kind of features does the 2021 Ford Bronco offer?

The rear 3/4 view of a bluish-gray 2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Badlands with its roof down in a snowy forest
2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Badlands rear 3/4 | Ford

Even in base form, the 2021 Ford Bronco offers features designed for both off-roading and commuting.

In addition to the 4WD, a base 2021 Bronco has a 30” fording depth and over 8” of ground clearance, Autoblog reports. And the top, doors, fender flares, and fenders are all removable. But if you want a soft-top, it’s only available on four-door models, and then as an option.

Both body styles, though, offer the Sasquatch Package, which adds front and rear locking differentials, 37” off-road tires on beadlock-capable wheels, Bilstein shocks, a suspension lift, a different axle ratio, and Trail Turn Assist. And if you get the Bronco Wildtrak, it comes standard with the Sasquatch Package. However, the Badlands also has Bilstein shocks and locking differentials, as well as underbody bash plates, rock rails, and an electronically-disconnecting front sway bar. Also, marine-grade vinyl upholstery, which the Black Diamond also has.

Four-door Broncos have slightly worse ground clearance as well as breakover and departure angles. However, they also have significantly more rear cargo space and slightly more rear legroom, Car and Driver notes. And while neither version offers third-row seating, the four-door Bronco offers a second-row center seating position.

The vinyl interior of a 2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Black Diamond
2021 Ford Bronco 4-Door Black Diamond interior | Ford

As far as electronics go, the base 2021 Ford Bronco has an 8” center touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an LCD gauge cluster. Plus, multiple 12V and USB outlets and a five-mode version of Ford’s Terrain Management System. It also has automatic emergency braking, trailer sway control, hill-start assist, and if you get the manual, hill-descent control.

If you want all seven available TMS modes, though, you’ll have to go with the Black Diamond, Badlands, or Wildtrak. The Outer Banks model, like the Big Bend, only has six modes. But it comes standard with blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and heated front seats. And navigation is only standard on the Badlands and Wildtrak. Some features, though, like a 12” touchscreen and Bang&Olufsen audio system, are optional extras.

The 2021 Ford Bronco “absolutely lives up to the hype,” MotorTrend says

Although it aims to be a Jeep Wrangler rival, the 2021 Ford Bronco isn’t “a Wrangler copycat,” Hagerty explains. Nor is it an SUV designed purely for nostalgia bait, though it does draw from the designs of Broncos past. But it “is absolutely the real deal,” MT says.

Compared to the Wrangler, the 2021 Bronco’s steering is significantly more accurate and lets fewer body-on-frame-derived “structural dithers” through, Car and Driver reports. That’s thanks to the independent front suspension, which also delivers a more comfortable ride. And while it’s by no means a sports car, even with off-road tires, it’s decent fun on a curving road.

The Bronco’s interior is also more “spacious and airy compared to the claustrophobic Wrangler’s,” MT notes. Ergonomics are excellent, Hagerty says, and the pedals are positioned well for heel-toe downshifts. Plus, unlike in the Wrangler, the 2021 Bronco has airbags in its roll bar.

Given its heritage, the 2021 Ford Bronco needed to be a solid off-roader. Tackling Hell’s Gate demonstrated some of the SUV’s credentials. And while it lacks a solid front axle, MT found Ford’s SUV “every bit as capable as the Wrangler, and moderately easier to use.” TMS and its G.O.A.T. Modes simplify rock crawling, as does the Bronco’s crawl control and the fenders’ metal brackets, aka ‘Trail Sights.’ That’s something the 4Runner TRD Pro I once drove off-road could’ve used. Plus, there’s also a top-down 360° camera system that makes spotting obstacles a cinch.

Does the off-road SUV have any drawbacks?

That being said, the 2021 Ford Bronco isn’t perfect.

For one, it’s not particularly fuel-efficient. And unlike the Wrangler, there’s no plug-in hybrid model. The rear seats also aren’t particularly comfortable over long distances, and in two-door models, they’re harder to access. Plus, while higher-spec trims get some interior upgrades, overall, the 2021 Bronco’s interior is fairly plain, Car and Driver says.

Still, overall, the 2021 Ford Bronco has what it takes to make the Wrangler worry. And it delivers on what its badge promises.

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