Did Ford Change Its Mind? Testing Underway For Manual 2021 Bronco Sasquatch

There aren’t many complaints registered about the 2021 Bronco. Granted, it isn’t out yet but plenty has been able to take in the reviews and order one. The one big complaint is over a manual transmission available for the Bronco Sasquatch package. There is a seven-speed manual available for Broncos, but once you go beyond the base engine and enter Sasquatch territory Ford draws the line. No manual in what might be Bronco’s most popular package. But did Ford just change its mind? Testing is now underway for adding the manual option with the Bronco Sasquatch.

The omission by Ford has been so desired a petition drive has come and gone

Four Door Ford Bronco sideview
2021 Ford Bronco 4-door | Ford Media

The omission by Ford has been so desired that a petition drive has already come and gone. The 2021 Bronco’s seven-speed manual Getrag transmission features a low-crawler gear. But it is only available with the 2.3-liter base engine. Once you step up to the 2.7 your only option is the 10-speed automatic.

The petition, signed by over 5,000 Bronco enthusiasts, asks Ford to make the Manual available across the board. That includes the Sasquatch edition and 2.7-liter. Now Bronco Nation; Ford’s own Bronco hype website, says durability testing is ongoing in Moab, Utah, with a manual Bronco. With 35-inch off-road tires and a 2.3-liter installed Bronco Nation says it’s got everything, a Sasquatch would have. 

If the manual transmission was approved tomorrow, would it be a 2021 option?

2-door and 4-door 2021 Broncos
2021 Ford Bronco | Ford

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But this all raises the question about availability. If the manual transmission was approved tomorrow, would it land on the 2021 options list, or would Bronco faithful need to wait until 2022 production to get the manual combo they want? That is a question only Ford can answer. But first, it has to be approved internally. 

The way most companies roll with new models is to offer a nice spread of options and features that first year. But the good stuff is held until subsequent year models. Why? To give the marketing folks more to hype about each year after the first. It also gives the manufacturers time to smooth out any issues that might crop up that first year. Once the platform is locked in then the power and added features start appearing.

If you look at the 2020 C8 Corvette it is the same program. This first year it is a plenty nice package. But in a year or so the Z06 will make its debut. Then the ZR1 will appear a year or two after that. So, now we are seeing the same program with the Bronco. 

Any vehicle done in the image of Jeep, Bronco, or Blazer, needs a manual option

2021 Ford Bronco driving in dirt
2021 Ford Bronco | Ford

We think that any vehicle done in the image of a Jeep or Bronco (or Blazer) needs to have a manual option. Even if it is only a few percentage points compared to the automatic, it’s the reputation that counts. While automatics have overtaken even exotics like Ferrari and Lamborghini, off-road heroes run manuals. 

That is the image that supports the Bronco. And it is the image that must be maintained. Ford knows all of this. Maybe they had this plan all along?