Speculation

Source: Off-road racing version of new Ford Bronco planned

We don't know what the Ford Bronco (officially) looks like yet, but a source has told AutomotiveMap that an off road racing-ready variant is already planned.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

A well-placed source within the off road racing community has tipped off AutomotiveMap that Ford is planning to debut a specialized off-road racing-ready version of the Bronco shortly after the model debuts next year.

There's some heritage in the Bronco being an off road racer. The first-generation Ford Bronco (1966-1977) is a popular off-roader even today and the internet is full of pictures and stories that tell the tale of championship rides.

Recently revealed patents for the Ford Bronco, first reported by AutoGuide, show numerous model configurations including two- and four-door trucks that could have a bed, with looks similar to the Jeep Gladiator. This style Bronco, with a bed, could compete directly with the Jeep Gladiator and, in racing, with the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

Chevrolet is far ahead of Ford when it comes to their truck racing program. The GM division worked with Hall Racing and suppliers like Multimatic to develop and test Chevrolet Performance parts that can be sold to off-roading enthusiasts. With these modifications Hall Racing has blown past the 100 mph mark on their Colorado ZR2 race truck and given the truck the parts it needs to remain planted when cornering, even at high speed.

1974 Ford Bronco side profile The first generation Ford Bronco, including 1974 models like this, remain popular in the off-roading community.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Chevrolet division recently introduced a desert racing version of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Trail Boss, which the company will test during the Desert Racing Series using a similar process. Expectations are that this testing will lead to a Ford F-150 Raptor-fighter model of the Silverado. Insiders are referring to it as the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2.

But what about the Ford Ranger Raptor? The source was quick to point out to AutomotiveMap that the prospective off-road racing-ready Ford Bronco model is not the Ford Ranger Raptor. Currently sold only in overseas markets, it is likely that the Ranger Raptor will debut when the next-generation Ranger comes to market in a few years.

Ford has confirmed that the Bronco will share a platform with the next-gen Ranger, and so it would make sense that a Bronco with Ranger Raptor characteristics would be on tap. Ford could easily test the underpinnings of a future off-roading Bronco model while wearing Ranger camouflage.

When approached for comment, Ford responded, "We don't comment on speculation about future products."

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The EPA-certified range of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E has met Ford's expectations.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford has announced the certification of its all-electric range numbers for its 2021 Mustang Mach-E variants by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The good news for Ford is that the numbers meet their publicly shared expectations.

The EPA-estimated ranges for each of the four models tested:

  • 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Standard-Range RWD - 230 miles
  • 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended-Range RWD - 300 miles
  • 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Standard-Range eAWD - 211 miles
  • 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended-Range eAWD - 270 miles

"This validation by the EPA comes at a perfect time as the Mustang Mach-E is gearing up to take on the open road," said Darren Palmer, global director, Battery Electric Vehicles, Ford Motor Company.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The Mustang Mach-E features a plusher interior than what you'll find in the Tesla Model Y. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

There is one remaining model that is being tested. The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E California Route 1 is anticipated to be rated at 300 miles of range by the EPA once officials complete their tests.

There are numerous factors that go into determining the range a vehicle gets in real world driving scenarios. Actual range of the vehicle varies with conditions such as external elements, climate control operations, presence of all-wheel drive, the weight of passengers and cargo, driving behaviors, vehicle maintenance, lithium ion battery age, and the battery's state of health.

The top 300 miles of range is considerably better than most of the electric vehicles on the market today. The 2021 Audi E-Tronhas 222 mile of EPA-estimated range while the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV (259 miles) and 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric (258 miles) have significantly more range. The 2021 Polestar 2 falls between those with 233 miles of range. The 2021 Tesla Model Y gets more - 326 miles - while the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge gets far less - 208 miles. The 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 has been certified to get 250 miles of rage.

The forthcoming Nissan Ariya's range has yet to be announced but is expected to rival the Mustang Mach-E.

Customer deliveries for the Mustang Mach-E will start in December in the United States.

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The Ford F-150 has been redesigned for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It's difficult, even as an automotive reviewer, to drive every single car in the lineup of a global manufacturer. But in the case of Ford in the United States, I've been in everything from the diminutive EcoSport to the track-weapon GT. Every vehicle has pros and cons, as does the 2021 F-150 pickup. But after spending the day in this new truck, I can safely tell you the is the most well-rounded vehicle that Ford has ever built.

New for 2021, the F-150 receives a slew of design and body changes to streamline the appearance and add more functionality. It's not a drastic change from the previous truck, but it didn't have to be. The biggest visual change is the front grille offerings and the new headlights.

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Power comes from a base 3.3-liter V6 engine, a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6, a 5.0-liter V8, a 3.0-liter V6 diesel, a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and a hybrid turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 – and that's before it's been revealed what's in the Raptor. The new hybrid is the only one that's really changed for the new model year, and the one I'm going to focus on for this review.

It's brilliant. Mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, it's hard to flummox this setup. When moving, shifts are not noticeable. When more power is needed, it'll skip down gears seamlessly. Even when attached to a 10,000-pound trailer, you hardly know it's there.

If you try really hard to cause it to goof up, you can get a little jerkiness taking off from a light, but under normal driving it'll never happen. The setup is good, and it's especially good at shifting when running only on electricity.

The hybrid powertrain, which Ford dubs PowerBoost, is also the most powerful option in the 2021 F-150. It makes 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque. The EPA fuel economy rating is 24 mpg in the city, on the highway, and combined. Which is pretty impressive for what amounts to a less-than-aerodynamic box on wheels.

2021 Ford F-150 Lariat

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The truck is quick, both at around-town speeds and on the highway. Steering feel and feedback is similar to previous versions of the truck, which means it's good but not sports car-like. The new suite of safety technology, including updated lane centering and traffic sign recognition are welcome additions.

Really that's where the big changes come – the technology. A new digital instrument cluster is big, bright and responsive. There are fluid animations for a variety of things, including changing the drive modes or showing navigation instructions. There's a ton of processing power behind it, which is something Ford didn't need to do but did anyway. It feels very futuristic.

The one downside is that it doesn't appear to be too customizable. What you see is what you get. It's no Audi Virtual Cockpit, but it looks nicer than the alternatives from Ram and General Motors.

The 12-inch infotainment screen carries a landscape layout, which I prefer, and retains all of the important hard buttons you'd expect. That means no fumbling through the screen to turn on the ventilated seats – I'm looking at you Ram – and the screen looks much better integrated into the dash compared to Ram's 12-incher or even GM's smaller screen.

2021 Ford F-150 XLT

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford's latest version of Sync is on board, and Sync 4 is the best yet. It's far more intuitive than previous generations, but there is a lot of information to take in. I do like that you can expand the navigation system to full screen if you don't want to see the information cards on the right of the display.

The infotainment screen also controls the zoned exterior lighting and provides feedback on on-board generator usage. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and they are wirelessly connected if you want them to be.

One thing that really impressed me on the infotainment was the implementation of notifications in CarPlay. When I'm using CarPlay, I don't receive text notifications on my Apple Watch. So, if I'm using the built-in navigation – which we often do on these programs – I don't see notifications because the Car Play screen isn't active. While I was driving around in the 2021 F-150, listening to Tidal on Car Play, with the navigation screen in view, I received a text notification. The system switched to the Apple CarPlay display to show me the notification, and then when I didn't react to it, it switched automatically back to the navigation display.

2021 Ford F-150 interior features

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

I have yet to drive a vehicle that does this, and it's something I wish every vehicle did. It worked exactly as I would've programmed, and it tells me that people who actually drive and use CarPlay also engineered this product.

The same applies for the on-board generator. Ford recognized that people take generators places, so why not just build one into the truck? The beauty is that it doesn't take up any space in the bed, and the inverter lives under the rear seats. In the case of the hybrid, there is no inverter but the batteries for the hybrid live under the rear seats. In any case, you sacrifice very little except cash for this useful technology.

The built-in workspace for a laptop from the center console is also forward thinking. The workspace on the tailgate that accepts C-clamps and has a built-in ruler speaks to those who use the truck as their workspace. There is so much cleverness built into this truck I could take days talking about it.

That's why the 2021 Ford F-150 is such a good truck. It was designed by people who use trucks. It was designed by people who do work. When it came time to test it, they tested it in real world with real people.

2021 Ford F-150 exterior features

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

I almost find something wrong with a vehicle where I ask, "why did you do it this way?" I often get the response, "we didn't think of that." I didn't have that experience anywhere in my time with the F-150.

Ford understands truck buyers, which is no surprise since they sell the most pickup trucks in the country, but it's still worth pointing out how good they are at it.

It's not a perfect truck – no vehicle is perfect – but it's easy to see why someone walks into a dealership and drives one of these homes. If you're in the market, you need to drive one.

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