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|3,500||Max Towing (lbs)||3,500|
Have you heard the news? The title for “King of the Trail” is up for grabs after Ford announced the return of the legendary Bronco in 2021. While the Bronco has the potential to oust the Jeep Wrangler from its coveted place on the throne, there’s a heated debate over which icon will take the title. While many Ford fans are hopeful the Bronco will dethrone the Wrangler, all signs are pointing to the Wrangler holding onto its title for a few more years. So, what does a trail run between the 2021 Jeep Wrangler vs 2021 Ford Bronco look like? Get ready to get a little mud on the tires.
There’s no question that the 2021 Wrangler and the 2021 Bronco offer exceptional capability both on and off the pavement. They’re both fun to drive and can easily navigate the trail and a variety of obstacles from water crossings to mud, sand, dirt, and gravel. Pricing doesn’t set the models apart since the Wrangler starts at $28,900* and the Bronco starts at $28,500.* So, what differentiates the models and gives the Wrangler an obvious lead over the Bronco? Performance and engine options, the available four-wheel drive systems, and its innovative technology help the Wrangler keep its title as “King of the Trail.”
Ford gives you the choice between two engines and transmissions on the 2021 Bronco. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost is the smaller of the two and delivers best-in-class four-cylinder horsepower to the tune of 300 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. This power makes the Bronco responsive to handle and quick to accelerate, both of which are even better when the Bronco is outfitted with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine that delivers best-in-class six-cylinder power at 325 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. The higher torque rating makes the engine more capable of crawling over obstacles and pulling out of mud pits and over obstacles.
The Bronco’s two transmission options include a class-exclusive 7-speed manual transmission and a class-first 10-speed automatic transmission. The 7-speed manual transmission gives you more control behind the wheel and is paired with the 2.3-liter engine. The 10-speed automatic transmission lets the Bronco do the work for you and gives you a wide range of gears to maximize the Bronco’s efficiency and deliver the right amount of power when needed.
The Bronco’s two powertrain options are overshadowed by the 2021 Wrangler and its multi-engine lineup. The legendary 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine is available with eTorque and with ESS (Engine Stop/Start) technology. Both engines deliver 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, with the ESS model maximizing the Wrangler’s efficiency to keep you on the road longer.
A diesel, electric, and V8 option are all noticeably absent from the 2021 Bronco, but that isn’t the case with the 2021 Wrangler. If you’re looking for more power and the confidence to travel any back road, the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine can get you there with ease by delivering 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 promises to take you even further as the quickest and most powerful Wrangler ever made, thanks to the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine under the hood that churns out 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. How’s that for power!
And, last but certainly not least, you won’t find an electric option in the Bronco fleet. The 2021 Wrangler 4xe gives you the best of both worlds by combining the legendary capability of the Wrangler with hybrid innovation. This pairing is phenomenal and delivers 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of instant torque that makes the Wrangler 4xe one of the most responsive off-road vehicles you’ll ever drive.
Two four-wheel-drive systems are available on the 2021 Ford Bronco. Ford’s electronic shift-on-the-fly two-speed transfer case is a part-time four-wheel drive system that gives you three different modes. By offering selectable engagement, you can put the system in 4H or 4L, the latter of which increases torque and relies on the mechanically locked four-wheel drive to improve traction and control.
The Bronco’s off-road capability reaches new heights with the advanced four-wheel drive system with automatic on-demand engagement. The automatic engagement allows you to select between 2H and 4H depending on your driving needs and the conditions of the road. You can maximize the Bronco’s performance on every road by driving in 4A, which constantly varies the power delivered to the front wheels.
Paired with these four-wheel drive systems is the Bronco’s exclusive G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) Modes. This terrain management system allows you to customize the Bronco’s performance using up to seven modes depending on the terrain. The modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Baja, Rock Crawl, Sand, Mud/Ruts, all of which optimize the steering and the engine’s responsiveness to deliver exceptional handling in any condition.
After 80 years in the automotive industry, there’s no denying that Jeep offers legendary four-wheel drive capability. This is certainly true on the 2021 Wrangler and is found in the three available four-wheel drive systems - the Command-Trac, Selec-Trac, and Rock-Trac. The Command-Trac system offers a part-time four-wheel drive that delivers torque to the Wrangler’s wheels to improve traction in a variety of conditions. The Selec-Trac system works full-time and automatically switches between two-wheel and four-wheel drive as the road demands. This maximizes the Wrangler’s efficiency and ensures you have the right amount of power and traction when you need it most.
The Wrangler Rubicon is the ultimate off-road beast and is equipped with either a part-time or full-time Rock-Trac system. The system boosts the Rubicon’s capability by switching from two-wheel to four-wheel drive when it senses the tires are slipping or losing traction. With the Rubicon also outfitted with an electronic front sway bar disconnect and electronic locking front and rear differentials, the Rubicon is ready for any adventure.
While the Bronco’s G.O.A.T. Modes are impressive, the Wrangler offers its own off-road technology that can take the off-road beast even further off the trail. The Selec-Speed Control manages the Wrangler’s speed by maintaining consistent torque and brake pressure when you’re in 4LO to make traveling up or down steep grades and over obstacles easier. On the Rubicon, you can push the Off-Road+ button to adjust the transmission, traction control, and throttle for better handling whether you’re traveling across sand dunes at high speeds or you’re crawling over rocks.
While the Wrangler takes an obvious lead ahead of the Bronco when comparing performance and four-wheel drive systems, technology and connectivity seem to level the playing field between these two off-road warriors. Both models are equipped with all the tools you need to stay in control and connected from behind the wheel. This makes taking calls, responding to messages, and navigating your route as easy as giving a simple voice command.
Tech and Safety in the Bronco
On the Bronco, you’ll find everything you need in Ford’s SYNC 4 infotainment system that’s housed on either an 8-inch or 12-inch touchscreen display and enables you to wirelessly sync your smartphone using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The system delivers over-the-air updates, which eliminates the need to drive to the dealership to update the software. This also gives you access to real-time traffic data and navigation, which is especially helpful when you’re on vacation or navigating a new trail.
When it comes to safety technology, you’ll have everything you need in the Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite. It includes a 360-degree camera with off-road views to give you a bird’s-eye view around the SUV whether you’re navigating a busy parking lot or need extra help spotting an obstacle on the trail. The suite also includes Hill Descent Control, a Rear View Camera with Backup Assist, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, and Auto High-Beam Headlamps. These tools are designed to enhance your visibility and minimize the potential for collision, both of which give you peace of mind when you’re on the road.
Tech and Safety in the Wrangler
The 2021 Wrangler offers similar connectivity and safety features as the 2021 Bronco. For example, you’ll have access to navigation and be able to sync your smartphone using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto through Jeep’s exclusive Uconnect 4C infotainment system that’s housed on an 8.4-inch touchscreen display. The Wrangler also offers Amazon Alexa, which allows you to connect your smart-home devices and smartphone to your Jeep. You can then use simple voice commands to check the Wrangler’s fuel level, start the engine, or send driving directions to the infotainment system.
Behind the wheel, you’ll have all the information you need, thanks to the 7-inch digital cluster display. The customizable display lets you keep track of your speed, gear, and mileage, as well as see navigational cues, various stats, and security features. This allows you to keep your eyes and your focus on the road ahead.
Beyond the Wrangler’s connectivity tools, the legendary road warrior is also equipped with the latest safety and driver-assist tools. Jeep offers over 75 standard and available tools that minimize the potential for collision and enhance your visibility. These features include Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Automatic High-Beam Headlamps. Advanced features include ParkSense Rear Park Assist and the Parkview Rear Backup Camera, both of which make parking the Wrangler a breeze.