By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Time was when the iconic and affordable Jeep Wrangler ruled the road, off-road, i.e. But since 2021 when Ford brought back the Bronco to pasture, after 25 years, the rivalry has become stiffer than ever. No wonder the galloping horse won the 2022 North American SUV of the Year, among several other awards.

The Bronco version (Everglades 4X4) Ford provided us came with rough-and-ready looks and off-road prowess, mainly targeting the hardcore enthusiasts. And with plenty of muscle. A 2.3-liter turbocharged Ecoboost inline-4 engine cranks out 275 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 315 pounds-feet of torque @ 3400 rpm. EcoBoost is essentially twin turbochargers and a small-displacement engine working in tandem with gas-direct injection to produce a powerful but fuel-efficient engine. It’s mated to a standard 10-speed auto gear box. An independent MacPherson strut front and five-link solid axle rear suspension isolate occupants from road noise and imperfections to ensure a safe trip.

Providing superb on-center feel to the driver is an electric power system. G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) modes are normal, eco, sport, slippery, sand, mud/ruts and rock crawl. Tow capacity is a commendable 8,780 pounds.

Up front, rounded LED headlights flank the signature cartridge gray grille with BRONCO etched in black letters. Heavy-duty modular bumper, steel bash plates, front tow hooks, removable top/frameless doors, air snorkel (yes, believe that!), a Warn winch and mainly short front and rear overhangs convey off-road competence of a vehicle that can wade through 36.4 inches of water.

The cabin, though cozy, offers features such as rubberized flooring (and cargo area too) and zipper pockets (with Molle straps) for extra gear that proves it’s safe to venture into unknown territory. Other goodies include leather tilt/telescopic steering column/shifter, 60/40 split fold rear seat, dual auto a/c, six-way manual heated front seats, and a huge 12-inch centered touchscreen, Sync4, which accesses audio, telephone, navigation controls via a voice command.

The standard Ford CoPilot360 bundles together driver-assist safety features such as blind spot monitor, cross-traffic alert, pre-collision and lane-keep aid with auto emergency brake, auto high beams, and rearview camera. Also included are dual front and side airbags, front knee, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic stability and traction control, front 180-degree camera, trail control (essentially cruise control while off-roading), tire pressure monitor and daytime running lights.

The Bronco’s gallop into the backwoods with the Everglades is a fabulous choice in the already-remarkable Ford lineup. If you like to go off the beaten path or customize your vehicle (as in Jeep), the exciting and robust Bronco lives up to its reputation.


Tires: P315/70R17

Wheelbase: 116.1 inches

Length: 198.9 inches

Width: 79.4 inches

Height: 78.7 inches

Weight: 5,212 pounds

Fuel capacity: 20.8 gallons

City: 18 mpg

Highway: 17 mpg

Base price: $55,720

Price as tested: $58,770

Web site: www.ford.com