- we tested a 2021 ford bronco first edition with the twin-turbo v-6 and sasquatch package, and it was quicker than either v-6 or 2.0t jeep wrangler rubicons we have tested.
- we also tested a black diamond bronco with a 2.3-liter inline-four and the optional seven-speed manual, which wasn't as quick as the 2.0t wrangler.
- with so many variants, the performance comparisons between the two off-road icons are complicated.
ford's new bronco is finally here to take on the jeep wrangler for off-road supremacy, and like its rival, it's available in two- and four-door configurations with four- and six-cylinder engine options—and the choice of a manual transmission. we have yet to compare the two off-roaders in a head-to-head test, but after taking two different two-door broncos to the test track, we can tell you how they compare performance-wise.
we've tested two broncos so far: one was a two-door hardtop 2021 bronco first edition with the 330-hp twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter v-6 engine and the sasquatch off-road package, the other a two-door black diamond model with the 300-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four and seven-speed manual transmission. the first edition rode on 17-inch wheels and 35-inch goodyear wrangler territory mt all-terrain tires, and the black diamond wore 17-inch wheels with less aggressive 32-inch general grabber at/x all-terrain rubber.
in our testing, the two-door bronco sasquatch reached 60 mph in 6.3 seconds on its way to a 15.0-second quarter mile at 91 mph. but it could be even quicker. the bronco allows the v-6 to build very little boost with brake torquing, which mutes its off-the-line pounce. and the sasquatch's shorter axle ratio means that by the time the bronco hits 60 mph it's in fourth gear. we achieved our best time when we employed second-gear starts to eliminate one of those time-sapping shifts. starting in first was a couple tenths slower. the four-cylinder black diamond model with the manual gearbox needed 7.0 seconds to reach 60 mph, and we achieved the best launch with a clutch dump at around 5000 rpm.
while jeep initially charged more for the 2.0-liter turbo engine, it now costs less than the wrangler's naturally aspirated v-6, which makes comparisons with the bronco's four- and six-cylinder hierarchy more straightforward. still, it's complicated.
comparing v-6 to v-6, the bronco is far quicker than a wrangler rubicon with jeep's 285-hp 3.6-liter v-6, which takes 7.4 seconds to get to 60 mph. but less off-road-focused wrangler v-6s have gone as quick as 6.7 seconds. the four-cylinder race goes the other way, with a 270-hp four-door wrangler sahara 2.0t scooting to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and a two-door rubicon 2.0t in 6.5 seconds. of course, this isn't a perfect comparison, because the wrangler doesn't offer a manual with the four-cylinder. (before you get upset that we're mixing two-door and four-door wranglers, know that we haven't tested a two-door v-6 automatic and remember that the two-door bronco is much larger than the two-door wrangler.)
despite weighing hundreds of pounds more than the wrangler, the bronco v-6 is also quicker in 5-to-60 mph acceleration as well as our top-gear 30-to-50 mph and 50-to-70 mph passing tests (the manual-transmission bronco was much slower in the top-gear tests, which favor automatic transmissions and their automatic downshifts). the bronco was also quickest through the quarter mile at 15.0 seconds at 91 mph, though the wrangler sahara 2.0t was only 0.1 second behind it at 90 mph.
even though the v-6 bronco narrowly beats either wrangler variant, the jeep punches back in a few ways. first, we've coaxed a two-door v-6 manual wrangler to 60 mph in a bronco-beating 6.0 seconds. plus, there are other options, such as the plug-in-hybrid 4xe, which, at 5.5 seconds to 60 mph, beats either of our tested broncos. then there's the wrangler's new v-8, an option that ford claims that the bronco will never be offered with. the 470-hp rubicon 392 promises to drop that 60-mph time down to the mid-4s.
the bronco sasquatch corners and brakes slightly better than the wrangler rubicon, too. it required 197 feet to stop from 70 mph compared to the two-door rubicon's 204 feet and the four-door's 212 feet. the black diamond bronco needed 217 feet to come to a stop from 70 mph. we expected the black diamond and its less aggressive all-terrain tires to stop shorter than the extreme off-road sasquatch, but the two broncos were tested on different days at different tracks with different road surfaces, which could certainly explain some of the discrepancy. the sasquatch and both wranglers mentioned here were tested on the same stretch of track.
we achieved 0.71 g of lateral grip in the bronco sasquatch, 0.01 g better than the two-door wrangler rubicon and 0.03 g more than the four-door model. the two-door four-cylinder bronco didn't better the sasquatch, despite having less aggressive tires, but the jeep wrangler sahara with similarly sized tires cornered at 0.74 g in our test.
ford is strong out of the gate with the new bronco, with the v-6 beating comparable wrangler v-6 or 2.0t, and it's a close matchup in braking and handling at the test track. look for a full comparison test examining the new off-road rivalry between the ford bronco and jeep wrangler soon.