Early Expert Reactions to Ford’s 2021 Bronco: Will It Outshine the Jeep Wrangler?

Ford's new Bronco is a mix of retro looks and modern technologies.

Ford’s 2021 Bronco is a mix of retro looks and modern technologies. Ford Motor Company

The 2021 Ford Bronco is finally here. On Monday night, Ford unveiled a new family of Bronco, a beloved SUV made famous by O.J. Simpson in the 1990s and discontinued in 1996. The hotly anticipated remake was initially scheduled to launch on Simpson’s birthday on July 9, but was eventually pushed backed to this week due to controversies emerging on the internet.

Ford kept many classic design elements of the old Bronco but added modern features such as large interior screens and a customizable off-road navigation system. The new Broncos come in three variants: a two-door model that looks most similar to the original 90’s model, a four-door version catering to a more modern taste and a smaller Bronco Sport that will be built on a different vehicle platform.

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Price starts at $29,995 for the base two-door model and goes up to $64,995 for the limited “First Edition” four-door model before options. (Prices including a $1,495 delivery and destination charge.) The Bronco Sport is expected to arrive in dealerships by the end of 2020, followed by the Bronco next spring. Ford is now taking $100 refundable deposits for the vehicles.

Reviving a legacy model is often a risky move for automakers. But the Bronco has been a wild success so far. Reservations for the “First Edition” four-door truck, of which Ford plans to produce only 3,500 units, sold out in minutes Monday night. For comparison, it took the carmaker more than a week to sell out pre-orders for the limited edition of the electric Mustang Mach-E last year.

Ford didn’t comment on plans for any all-electric or hybrid versions of the Bronco.

Upon arrival, the new Bronco was immediately seen as a competitor to Fiat-Chrysler’s Jeep Wrangler, one of America’s most popular off-road cars. The two SUVs are highly similar in size, pricing and engine specs. They also share features such as removable roofs and doors, as well as a wide offering of factory-backed accessories.

Interestingly, in a veiled attempt to steal some of Bronco’s thunder, Fiat-Chrysler unveiled a new V8 Wrangler also on Monday night. The vehicle, called the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, is just a concept car, but Jeep said it’s an indication that a consumer V8 version of the Wrangler is coming soon.

What auto experts are saying:

“The new 2021 Ford Bronco clearly has the Jeep Wrangler in its crosshairs. From what we’ve seen so far, it has a very good chance at either meeting or beating the Wrangler. Of course, there’s no way to tell until we get to drive it for ourselves, so keep checking back for drive impressions and additional information as we get closer to the vehicle’s release in the spring of 2021.”

— Automotive review site Edmunds

“As our surveys have shown, the Wrangler has clear appeal, earning strong marks for owner satisfaction (despite its low road-test score and dismal predicted reliability)…The Bronco will never be able to claim a long, rich Jeep-like heritage, but vintage Broncos have cultivated a following ..For the Bronco to become a modern institution, it has to deliver on its many promises. It appears Ford has the power, features, and styling to draw its own outdoors-loving audience.”

Consumer Reports

“It’s a long time coming. The market is waiting and ready. We expect this to stack up nicely compared to the Wrangler.”

— Jeff Schuster, president of the Americas at LMC Automotive

“With Bronco, Ford is making a clear push into the off-road segment of the [North American] SUV market. While we expect Wrangler to remain the leader in the off-road segment, we nevertheless see attractive opportunity for Bronco given its heritage.”

— Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy

Early Expert Reactions to Ford’s 2021 Bronco: Will It Outshine the Jeep Wrangler?