My first experience with the new Ford Bronco was quite an experience as I walked away very impressed with Ford’s definitive answer to the Jeep Wrangler. In my direct comparisons with the Jeep, the new Ford Bronco felt like a more cohesive package with a lot of potential to become something even greater with the help of countless aftermarket add-ons. Ford has noticed the vast aftermarket and decided to make some inhouse improvements to bring an additional trim package for those who want a more capable Bronco that can concur extreme terrains and deep-water adventures with a new Everglades edition, which includes the desirable Sasquatch off-road package.
Performance and Driving Character
The new Ford Bronco Everglades appropriately touts the name of Florida’s 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve, Everglades National Park. While I didn’t have the opportunity to take the new Bronco Everglades to the actual Everglades, I can imagine that it’s an ideal vehicle that will tackle just about every “navigable” trail in what’s considered the largest wilderness in the United States east of the Mississippi river. Being an ideal vehicle for such is thanks to its unique features starting with an air-intake snorkel that’s mounted high to avoid having the engine’s intake engulfed in water when you want to nearly bury the Bronco in up to 36.4 inches of water. Not only is the snorkel raised high for the engine intake, but both axles have raised vent tubes, as does the 10-speed automatic transmission and transfer case with switchable 2WD-high, 4WD-low, 4WD-high, and 4WD-automatic modes. The four-wheel-drive automatic is a welcomed setting as it allows you to navigate your local roads and highways with the assurance of all-wheel-drive when it’s needed, not just using 4WD for your off-roading excursions.
See Also: 2021 Ford Bronco Review & Test Drive
The new Bronco Everglades only comes as a 4-door and is exclusively powered by the base 4-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine choice for the Bronco. The 2.3-liter turbo 4-cylinder outputs 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain is surprisingly adequate for all that you throw at the Bronco Everglades, but it proves to be the slowest of the new Ford Bronco trims, mostly due to its weight penalty of over 500 additional pounds to tote around. Because of the weight, the Bronco Everglades takes about 7.1 seconds to hit 60 mph, which is about half a second slower than a Bronco Outer Banks with the same engine. That extra weight is from its extra equipment, starting with a Warn winch mounted at the front, which would undoubtedly come in handy if you ever bury the Bronco Everglades. But don’t worry, the Warn winch is good for pulling up to 10,000 pounds on its 100-foot synthetic line, which is an easy feat for getting the 5,296-pound Bronco Everglades out of a rut. But once you get out of the rut and hit a Mexican highway, don’t expect to go above 99 mph, because that’s the Bronco Everglades’ top speed.
Out on the open road, the Bronco Everglades is relatively easy to pilot. In fact, the Bronco tracks straight and doesn’t require extra steering inputs to keep it pointed in the right direction like a Jeep Wrangler does. There is somewhat of an uneasy feeling at times when taking fairly sharp turns where the suspension naturally feels soft and is exacerbated by the large 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory mud-terrain tires. The tires proved to be primarily compliant on paved road surfaces and even better on off-roading trails.
Power from the 4-cylinder turbocharged engine may feel a bit rough from the sound and subtle vibration. Still, power feels substantial and even better if you ever use the 4WD-low setting coupled with an off-roading GOAT (Goes Over Any Terrain) off-road drive mode and allow the system to automatically enact the rear locking differential. There’s also the option to enable the front locker or use the trick trail turn assist feature to greatly reduce your turning radius on off-roading surfaces. The soft suspension using position-sensitive Bilstein shocks is more geared for off-roading, but on-road adventures remain compliant and adaptive to keep the Bronco somewhat civilized when you’re traveling at highway speeds. Just be prepared to listen to an abundance of wind noise at speed that is sometimes reduced by rolling a window down and backup that did not fit in its track when closing the door as the frameless doors tend to flop the window around to the point of some concern when closing them.
Overall, the Ford Bronco was already a respected contender at its introduction, and by bringing us an Everglades edition package, its capabilities are elevated for specific rugged condition purposes revolving around wading through deep water, mud, or marsh. There’s not much to fear in driving such a vehicle through challenging ‘wet’ conditions.
Another aspect that is compromised for its capability is the Bronco Everglades’ fuel economy when such a vehicle actually gets better city fuel mileage than it does on the highway. The EPA estimates matched my real-world results getting 18 mpg city and 17 mpg on the highway. Don’t expect to deviate from those figures much because I tried but could never crest far past 18.5 mpg. Thankfully you can burn regular unleaded to save you a bit at the pump.
Interior and Technology
The Ford Bronco has a rather versatile cabin fit for being durable enough to get wet on occasion without any fear of damaging surfaces or even its switchgear. There are plentiful hard plastic surfaces with very few soft-touch areas, as you may expect in a vehicle that you don’t fear washing down some surfaces and the floors with your garden hose.
Seating areas have a good amount of space and prove to be more comfortable and spacious than what you find in the Jeep Wrangler. There’s more than enough manual adjustability in the seats up front for people well over 6-feet tall, in addition to having a manual seat height adjustment for shorter folks and a welcomed lumbar adjustment.
The dashboard is kept very simple with physical control buttons and knobs for the automatic dual-zone climate system and the hollow-sounding 7-speaker audio system. Where the Bronco excels in its tech is its user-friendly Sync 4 12-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay that proved to work without fault, and having Android Auto integration. The gauge cluster is unique with its digital screen featuring several vehicle information displays next to a fixed speedometer. The center power window switches and fixed-non-removable side review mirror controls are located just below the center armrest to limit the amount of equipment on the removable doors. The hardtop roof and its removability look complicated at first but proves to be not as intimidating after finding all the latches. There’s also a neat slide-out tailgate equipped with a small group of optional equipment on my test vehicle.
The Ford Bronco receives the same expected active safety features that you find on any other vehicle thanks to its Co-Pilot360 technology suite. Being such a rugged off-roader, you may not expect to get the typical lane departure warning/keep assist, blind spot monitors, and forward collision warning/emergency braking, but they all come standard on the Bronco Everglades. What is missing is adaptive cruise control and a camera system with additional angles, partly because of the large Warn winch up front limiting the space to put a camera.
The Ford Bronco, starting at $32,295 for the base two-door model, is a serious contender fresh out of the gates for a vehicle to compete with the Jeep Wrangler. Moreover, the Bronco remains competitive in the area of pricing, where the Bronco Everglades with all of its add-on water-wading and off-roading equipment, prices out at $56,835 for my nicely equipped test vehicle.
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