Some vehicles are able to conquer any terrain with certain after-market modifications. We probably haven’t seen another mass-produced vehicle configured from the factory to be able to run at high speeds on off-road terrain since the Ford Raptor hit the market in 2010 (and which we’ll talk about later) until now with the Bronco.
The eager return of this SUV that was in production from 1966 to 1996 can be feel on the social networks of automotive industry enthusiasts since Ford confirmed in January 2017 that this vehicle was going to production during the presentation of the fourteenth generation of the Ford F150 (which begins its 15th generation in 2021) and the announcement of the new Ford Ranger.
Ford Puerto Rico has just received the Bronco to the island and extended an invitation to the local media to test it. The meeting place was the Agro-tourism Park of Dorado. Nine Ford Broncos of the Outer Banks (slimier version) and Wildtrak (more aggressive and top-of-the-line version) variants were delivered to each of those present during two days of test drives. The model was presented by Vivian Dávila, Manager of Communications and Public Affairs of Ford Puerto Rico, Central America and the Caribbean.
The technical specs of the vehicle were provided by Robert Esparolini, who let us know that all the units in this test would have a similar engine, that is, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 twin-turbo engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission. This combination produces 330 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, enough to move this big 5,000-pound SUV.
Some of the Outer Banks Broncos included the more aggressive off-road package called the “Sasquatch™ Package.” Most people who modify SUVs and pickups for off-roading replace the factory tires with 32″ or 33″ ones. The most aggressive raise them to 35″. In the case of the Bronco, Ford configured 6 variants that can be modified from the factory with 35″ tires from its base model. The Wildtrak version does not have a simple version. It only comes configured with the Sasquatch package.
Another recurring modification in the “off-road” vehicles that the bronco brings, are the auxiliary switches normally used to add lights and other elements to the vehicles. These switches often look rudimentary because they don’t have the same texture as the factory buttons. For this, Ford has integrated a series of 6 auxiliary buttons that will be assigned by the owner when they want to integrate accessories into their Bronco.
Ford pre-assigned us the units we’d be driving, but if asked I would have preferred a black Outer Banks Bronco with the Sasquatch package or a black Wildtrak. When they read the list, I was assigned the black Wildtrak. This was already the first satisfaction before starting the vehicle.
To get inside, I have to step on the footboard since otherwise it would be difficult to get on such a high SUV. Once onboard you do not feel that it is as big as it looks from the outside. The comfort of its seats, the ease of connecting the iPhone to the SYNC4 system with Apple CarPlay and searching the chat for the address of the assigned destination to see the route on the 12″ LCD screen was as natural as if I had been doing it for months. There are no instructions to read to get to this point.
The driving controls are extremely intuitive. Changing the driving mode to “eco mode” or “sport mode”, activate “cruise control” with distance sensor, make a call and control the side mirrors, all this was possible to do with the vehicle in motion without losing sight of the road . Perhaps the only thing different was noticing that the controls for the mirrors and for opening and closing the windows are located on the center console. This setup will protect the buttons when the doors are removed from the vehicle.
In terms of handling, aside from perceiving external noises in a moderate way, it feels like a luxury SUV of any brand. The issue of noise is something that is known in advance when you purchase any vehicle with a removable roof. While all test units had a hard top, the Bronco can be had with a soft top over the front seats or the entire vehicle.
The first stop we had was at a farm near Mar Chiquita in Manatí. We were able to maneuver the units around a bit and enjoy a nice day out in nature. From there we arrive at Finca Guacabo to have lunch and continue appreciating the beauties of our island. On each of the routes traced by the Ford team, we could see the reaction of the people in the houses and in the nearby cars. On the way from the first farm to the second, I watched as the owner of an F-150 parked to watch the Bronco convoy pass him by.
We headed to our third stop, Hacienda la Diamantera – also in Manatí, but very close to Ciales – another off-road test awaited us, but this one would be a surprise. The new F150 Raptor was waiting for us hidden under a blue blanket, which we were able to test on a terrain parallel to the Río Grande de Manatí. We were able to accelerate over this much rougher terrain than before and remember the capability of the previous Raptor but with the new design and new technology of the 14th generation F-150 that just started this year.
While we would have liked to “abuse” these units the Bronco and F-150 Raptor a bit more like we did with the Raptor test several years ago, we had to be on our best behavior with them as these vehicles are not permanently assigned as Ford test vehicles.
Highway testing is not what most people want to do when testing a vehicle like this, but in reality owners of these vehicles drive more on paved roads than off them. We might think that moving a vehicle as heavy as this (about 5,000 pounds) requires a large engine that uses a lot of gasoline. However, as we mentioned previously, our test units had a small 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine which gets a combined 19 miles per gallon (MPG). The Bronco is also available with a less powerful 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that gets 21 MPG combined (20 MPG city/22 MPG highway).
For those who consider the Bronco too big or prefer better gas mileage but stick to an off-roader, there’s the Bronco Sport. It’s less aggressive than the Bronco and gets up to 26 MPG combined.
I don’t think I’m the only one who wanted to do more Bronco tests. We would love for Ford Puerto Rico to keep one of these Broncos for permanent testing and lend them to us for several days. We promise to take care of it but we also promise that they will have to remove the mud even from the hood (that’s if we run it with the hood on).
The new Bronco is well made in every way. A vehicle that undoubtedly went through a forum of “off-roaders” experts before beginning its development. It’s got everything anyone wants in an SUV like this, but if you want to do more with it, the Bronco comes ready to be fully modified.