A triumph of smart ideas, clever engineering, and good timing. It’s no wonder people are crazy about it.
Jeep Wrangler buyers have settled for less because that’s just the way things had to be if you wanted a go-anywhere four-by-four with roof and doors that could be removed. While there’s an argument to be made that much of the Jeep’s appeal lies in its antiquated charm, Ford’s new Bronco proves that there is a much better way.
Whereas the Wrangler is stubbornly archaic, the Bronco is charismatically nostalgic. It effectively evokes the spirit of its ancestor—the beachy first-gen Bronco from the 1960s—while tweaking the formula just enough to be a modern SUV that’s pleasant for daily driving. The Wrangler sticks with recirculating-ball steering and live axles front and rear; by contrast, the Bronco’s more modern rack-and-pinion steering and independent front suspension make it far more comfortable and refined on the road without sacrificing much rock-crawling capability.
We didn’t choose the Bronco for this award simply because it’s a better Wrangler—it’s much more. Brimming with personality, it represents a triumph of smart ideas, clever engineering, and good timing. Though the Bronco name had been gone from Ford dealerships for about two decades, its return has inspired a level of fanaticism seen only in rare moments when a much-anticipated new release actually lives up to the hype.
It helps that the Bronco fits in perfectly with the current off-road craze and that Ford has done a good job catering (read: pandering) to dirt enthusiasts. Demand for the Bronco is through the roof—no pun intended—given the production issues that mean many who have placed orders continue to wait for their trucks. Would-be owners continue to post excitedly as they follow their vehicle’s production status like they’re tracking a Domino’s pizza delivery. This is the fervor that can result when an automaker listens to what the people want rather than relying on gimmicks and marketing.
Having the right ingredients—body-on-frame construction and a top you can take off—probably would have been enough for the Bronco to be a success, but Ford went a step further and elevated the truck’s character with good execution. The steering isn’t just better than a Wrangler’s; it’s accurate and precise. The turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four and twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6 engines have plenty of torque to deal with the Bronco’s prodigious heft. (Its extra poundage is one of the few specs where it falls short of the Jeep.) And the interior is a nice place to spend time, with crisp display screens, comfortable seats, a roomy rear seat, and easy-to-use controls.
It’s not often that vehicles this special reside within an accessible price bracket, but the Bronco starts just above $30,000, and even well-equipped models sit below $50,000. Above all, the entire Bronco experience—driving it, looking at it, and being seen in it—is just plain fun.
2022 Ford Bronco
300-hp turbo 2.3-liter inline-4, 330-hp twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6; 7-speed manual, 10-speed automatic
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.3–7.0 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.0–15.5 sec
Top Speed: 106 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 197–217 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia Skidpad: 0.71 g
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 17–21/16–20/18–22 mpg
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