2022 Ford Bronco
Being an automotive manufacturer is hard. Tremendously hard, actually. The idea of car creation is simple enough: design and engineer a vehicle that appeals to a broad section of the population, manufacture it with very few defects, and then market it so that people line up to buy it. Despite the simplicity of that concept, launching a vehicle that checks all those boxes is unbelievably difficult.
For one thing, delivering a vehicle takes three years from approval to ready-to-sell, and customer tastes can change significantly during that time. In addition, government regulations may evolve, your competition may beat you to the punch, and the economy can tank.
If you’re sensing that it takes brains, clairvoyance, and luck to get it all right, you're correct—car companies with thousands of talented employees and super-smart executives rarely hit home runs.
In fact, I can only think of three over the past 50 years: the 1970 Datsun 240Z, 1979 Mazda RX-7, and 1990 Lexus LS400.
Now there’s another one, the 2022 Ford Bronco. Seemingly a love child of the original 1960s Ford Bronco and current Jeep Wrangler, the new Bronco is a true phenomenon, selling out before a single unit was made, commanding up to $20,000 over list price at some dealerships, and giving new meaning to the term, “waiting list” (expect to wait about a year if you order one today).
I recently drove one for a week, and I get why it’s such a big deal. For starters, it looks great. Closely mimicking the current Jeep Wrangler’s footprint, the new Bronco adds lots of retro 1960s Bronco styling elements such as an upright grille with big “BRONCO'' lettering in the center, a boxy profile, and round headlights coupled with vertically rectangular taillights. In person, the design works.
Actually, this is such a striking truck that I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that 80% of its appeal is due to its good looks alone.
Like the Jeep Wrangler, the Bronco can be had in either two- or four-door variants. And as with the Jeep, most Bronco buyers will opt for the four-door models.
Unless you go off-road where the Bronco is superb, driving Ford’s home run is remarkably unremarkable. Around town it’s fine, good even, but on the highway it’s just average. The Bronco tracks well and has no problem keeping up with traffic, but the blockiness of the design means that wind noise intrudes at speed, and the larger tires that confer that off-road ability add noise as well. Having said that, the Bronco is better (and quieter) on the open road than the Wrangler.
The Bronco’s interior is mostly utilitarian, which should appeal to most buyers who are looking for an authentic type of cabin. Buttons and switches are mostly big and obviously durable, and the entire inside can be hosed out without damaging anything if you’re so inclined.
Nevertheless, the Bronco has all of the tech anyone would ever want. Apple Carplay and Android Auto come standard, and the central touchscreen enables you to control any HVAC/audio/what-have-you functions that you need to access. And the cinematic rocks-turn-into-a-bucking-bronco CGI show that happens every time you start your Bronco is kind of cool.
Otherwise, experiencing owning a Bronco is going to be mostly similar to if you’d bought a Wrangler: there will be some compromises, but overall you’ll be driving an authentic American icon, which means that other drivers will notice you, mostly approvingly, and you’ll feel special.
A base two-door Bronco costs just under $31,000, and it includes a four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual transmission, but that’s not what you want. You actually want the four-door Bronco with the ecoboost 2.7L V6 and the 10-speed automatic transmission. Any regular reader will know that I’m a manual transmission enthusiast, but Ford doesn’t allow the manual with the V6, and the manual coupled with the 4-cylinder is just, I’m sorry to say it, lame.
Options and option packages are plentiful in the Bronco, so if you’re insistent on keeping your Bronco under $50,000 I wish you luck. You don’t need the expensive off-road killer Sasquatch package (although I suspect many readers will want it) because the middle of the road Outer Banks or loaded Wildtrak packages are plenty good enough.
The 2022 Ford Bronco is a rare automotive home run, and I congratulate Ford for conceiving and launching it. If you are fortunate enough to get one, good for you. And if you’re on the waiting list, hang on. This is a very good SUV.