Don’t Look Now: The Ford Bronco Might Soon Overtake the Jeep Wrangler
The Ford Bronco is one of only a few new models placing off-road performance above all else. Customers are enthusiastic about this revived SUV, with demand so high that Ford frequently pauses reservations. However, the Bronco has one major competitor that’s been around for nearly 40 years longer. The Jeep Wrangler is similar to the Ford Bronco in equipment and rugged appeal. And the Wrangler has the edge in popularity. But how long can it stay on top?
Ford Bronco sales soared last year
According to Ford Authority, the Ford Bronco’s sales in Q4 2022 were over 23% higher than the previous year’s Q4. Additionally, the Blue Oval sold just over 117,000 Bronco units last year. That’s an increase of over 234% over the previous year’s 35,023 units.
2021 was the first year the Ford Bronco and its crossover sibling, the Bronco Sport, were widely available. The Bronco is the larger of the two, packing a 300-hp turbo-four and assisted by four-wheel drive in the base trim. This is the only engine mated to a standard seven-speed manual transmission, though buyers can pay extra for the 10-speed automatic.
The Bronco base trim can also be optioned with a 330-hp twin-turbo V6. A 418-hp twin-turbo V6 is reserved for the Ford Bronco Raptor, which is the most expensive and capable trim. In addition to including all of the Bronco’s standard off-roading equipment, the Raptor has upgraded axles and shock absorbers. It also boasts extra frame reinforcement and an adaptive suspension.
Furthermore, the Ford Bronco Raptor offers competitive ground clearance, approximately 13.1 inches thanks to the extra lift and 37-inch tires. That beats the Jeep Wrangler’s maximum ground clearance by 0.2 inches. The Raptor’s approach (47.2 inches) and departure (40.5 inches) angles are slightly behind the Wrangler Rubicon’s.
The Bronco base trim is still ready for adventures with 8.3 inches of ground clearance and G.O.A.T. driving modes. There are special settings for sand/snow and slippery roads, while other trims add an extra setting for mud and ruts. Any Bronco can also be purchased with the Sasquatch package for locking differentials and nearly 12 inches of ground clearance.
Most Ford Bronco trims offer the option of two doors or four doors. The Everglades and Raptor come exclusively with four-door body styles. A wide range of safety features is also available across the lineup to keep riders safer on trails. And Broncos with an automatic transmission gain access to off-roading cruise control.
The Jeep Wrangler is more popular (for now)
Although the Jeep Wrangler beat the Ford Bronco’s sales in Q4 2022, its year-to-date sales dropped by over 14%. Its total 2022 sales were also down by 11% compared to the previous year. Still, the Wrangler outsold the Bronco by nearly 65,000 units in 2022.
How can the Ford Bronco topple the Jeep Wrangler?
The Bronco is in a good position to overtake the Wrangler in sales, but only if Ford continues making improvements.
J.D. Power says the Bronco beats the Wrangler in value, comfort, and technology offerings. However, the latter has an available V8 and a wider range of 4WD systems.
The Jeep Wrangler also has a plug-in hybrid option with an electric-only range of 21 miles. Although the Bronco’s turbo-four still gets better EPA-estimated mileage than the Wrangler 4xe’s gas-only mode, some extra efficiency could broaden the Bronco’s appeal.
Even without electrification, the Ford Bronco could soon be America’s preferred off-roading SUV.