Seeing the response to a Right Spec analysis to last week’s Wrangler, our fancy-pants Managing Ed rightly suggested we go ahead and examine the Bronco. Fresh off a couple of days wheeling it around the sagebrush of Texas, he was ready to declare the long-awaited Blue Oval bruiser lives up to all the hype.
But what the correct mix of options? What’s the Right Spec? Let’s crack open the configurator and find out.
Any off-roader worth their salt (or at least their weight in axle grease) will tell you a locking differential can mean the difference between getting back to camp for dinner and spending a couple of hours looking for traction in a difficult spot. This requirement precludes a couple of trims unless the pricey Sasquatch package is added. Similarly, your author is a firm believer in the power of a disconnecting stabilizer bar to provide better wheel travel and potentially keep a wheel on terra firma where it otherwise might not be possible. This points us to the Badlands trim (or the First Edition if they weren’t all sold); perhaps surprisingly, the much-ballyhooed Wildtrak trim doesn’t have this feature.
Badlands it is, then, with a starting price for an Antimatter Blue 2-door checking in at $42,095. Front and rear locking diffs are standard here, even without the Sasquatch package, as are heavy-duty steel bash plates and heavy-duty modular front and rear bumpers. At this level, 33-inch all-terrain tires on 17-inch machine painted alloys are standard kit, though 33-inch mud-terrains of equal stature are optional as a stand-alone option. If you can handle road noise on pavement, go for the latter.
Powertrain choices are where many arguments will be had and friendships damaged. While the 7-speed manual transmission is big news and very welcome in this segment, it must be said that the optional 10-speed automatic permits the presence of Trail Control and Trail Turn Assist features, the latter of which is not unlike the so-called ‘rear dig’ performed by professional off-roaders when they want to get around a tight turn (or to simply show off).
So we’ve agreed to disagree on the $1,595 10-speed. But what about spending a further $1,895 on the 2.7-liter EcoBoost? While 30extra horses isn’t a lot, a further nearly 100 lb-ft of torque certainly is. While it’s unlikely you’ll ever miss that power if all you ever drive is the four-banger, there’s a good chance you’ll want to run your shiny new Bronco through a shredder should you ever find yourself behind the wheel of someone else’s V6.
As for the interior, this trim comes with so-called marine-grade vinyl seats, making them an easy-to-clean proposition after a day’s wheeling. Leave the pricey Mid, High, and Lux packages for someone else, since they only add creature comforts best suited for an Explorer or F-150. No one’s buying a Bronco for towing (only 3,500lbs), so the $595 trailer hitch and wiring stays where it’s at as well.
Spending $2,495 on the aforementioned Sasquatch package is tempting but, in Badlands form, the level of off-road capability is already quite high. Yes, it’ll add a high clearance suspension and 35-inch mud-terrains. Judge yourself accordingly.
That’s it for us. What’s your pick of the Bronco litter?
Please note the prices listed here are in American dollars and currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.