First Ride

First ride: 2021 Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport go off-roading, show Jeep-fighter credentials

The Ford Bronco got its first test in front of the media during an off-roading day last week.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Sculptor Frederic Remington captured the Wild West like no other. His 1895 bronze sculpture “The Bronco Buster" features a cowboy fighting to stay aboard a rearing bronco, with a stirrup swinging free, holding on by the reins for dear life. It looks like a heck of a ride and so is the new family of Ford Broncos.

The 2021 Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport are on the way and one of the things the company is trying to emphasize is that it's nicer to drive than the competition while being just as – if not more – capable. They've tamed the Bronco to be more approachable, or at least that's the theory. With the new trucks going on sale soon and reservations pouring in, the question is this: Did they succeed?

2021 Ford Bronco The Bronco was driven across a variety of terrain.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

While the public hasn't had a chance to drive them yet, Ford did invite some journalists to the Holly Oaks ORV Park in Michigan to ride in the new four-door Bronco, two-door Bronco, and Bronco Sport. However, they assigned seats so only experiencing two of the three was how it shook out. The complicated courses featured dirt, sand, rocks, and even a water crossing - experiences true off-roading enthusiasts can appreciate.

Here's what I learned.

2021 Ford Bronco

The two-door Bronco feels bigger on the inside than the similarly-proportioned Jeep Wrangler. You don't sit as close shoulder-to-shoulder to the passenger as you do in the Jeep. This proved especially beneficial when I was being bounced around the cabin along the high-speed sections of the course.

The 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine feels plenty potent – this author likes this motor in nearly everything he's driven with it – and the seven-speed manual transmission seems to be geared for the best performance off the tarmac. The Ford employee driver briefly demonstrated the crawler gear on some rough terrain, and it's pretty cool. Most people still would likely prefer the automatic, but the manual does seem to offer quite a bit of control (and the best crawl ratio of the Bronco lineup).

2021 Ford Bronco Bronco offers an impressive amount of water fording capability and most models offer a floor with drains.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The independent front suspension of the Bronco handles the bumps better than the Wrangler's solid front axle. Granted, Ford designed this course, but there was nothing that seemed to flummox the capability of the Bronco and the course seemed reasonably challenging. We didn't ride on the road, but the improved off-road ride quality will surely equate to a better on-road experience.

The other impressive demo showcased during the event was the SUV's disconnecting front sway bar. It's hydraulically controlled, meaning that it can work under load. So, if you're up on an obstacle and realize you should've disconnected the sway bar, you can do it on the fly.

Until we can put it back-to-back against the Jeep Wrangler, it's hard to say which'll perform better, but under the controlled environment that Ford let us ride in, the Bronco appears to be as capable as it needs to be to directly compete.

2021 Ford Bronco The Ford Bronco is as capable as it needs to be to compete against the Jeep Wrangler.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

The surprise delight of the day was the Bronco Sport. While it technically shares a platform with the 2020 Ford Escape, it's nearly completely different inside and out.

High speed through sand, the Bronco Sport slides around like it's a rear-drive-biased AWD system. It's difficult to feel the economy-crossover underpinnings. Power delivery felt consistent from the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-banger and the twin-clutch rear drive unit splits power, shifting it from the rear to the wheel that needs it the most at any given moment.

While we didn't get a chance to experience it on-road, there's no reason to think the Bronco Sport wouldn't ride as nicely as the Escape does, though the off-road focused tires might be a tad bit noisier.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The Ford Bronco Sport is surprisingly capable.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

When tackling some tough off-road trails, the Bronco Sport feels like it is more capable than a Jeep Renegade or the slightly larger Jeep Cherokee in Trailhawk trims. Ultimately, they'll also need to be tested back to back to verify, but the new Bronco Sport is not the joke many on the internet seem to think it is.

The biggest takeaway from the day is that Ford put time and effort into developing both the new Bronco and the Bronco Sport. Instead of just putting in what they think customers would want, they spent the time going where the potential customers are and seeing how they use their vehicles. It seems like, based on this initial taste, they're on the right track.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Aladdin Connect has joined the Samsung SmartThings family.

Photo by imaginima

If you own an Aladdin Connect smart garage door opener and a Samsung SmartThings hub, you're in luck. The Genie Company announced that the Aladdin Connect smart garage door openers and retrofit kits are now "Works With SmartThings" certified and integrated within Samsung SmartThings.

This means that users will now be able to open or close their garage door by voice command. SmartThings works with all major voice platforms including Alexa, Google, and Samsung's Bixby. Many new vehicles, including the Buick Encore GX and Acura MDX have Alexa integration.

Owners can retrofit their existing garage door in order to take advantage of the technological breakthrough.Photo courtesy of The Genie Company

Genie

Additionally, users can set up a geo-tag to recognize entry to the driveway to automatically open the garage door. There's also protocol that allows a garage door to open if smoke is detected by a smart smoke detector inside the home, or if carbon dioxide levels are sensed to have reached a dangerous threshold.

Samsung SmartThings already brings together 200 brands to allow for a connected living experience for its 63 million users in 200 countries. It can be controlled via Android and iOS mobile apps, devices, televisions, and appliances. The service was launched in 2012.

"SmartThings is commited to working with partners to enhance our user experience and continue to make connected living a reality for all,"said Ralf Elias, Global Vice President IOT/ Business Development & Partnerships at Samsung Electronics. "We we thrilled to partner with Genie and expand our ecosystem to make the car-to-home and home-to-car experiences that much easier."

"Genie is excited to be part of the growing ecosystem of products on the SmartThings platform," said Mike Kridel, President of The Genie Company. "This integration enables geofencing and garage safety capabilities that create clear value for our customers."

Trending News

 
 

The 2022 BMW M5 CS Sedan is the quickest, most powerful vehicle the company has ever produced.

Photo courtesy of BMW

The newest member of the BMW family is also the quickest and most powerful production BMW car ever made. The limited edition 2022 BMW M5 CS Sedan will be made for just one model year.

The model builds on the BMW M5, which was recently updated for the 2021 model year and combines an amplification of power with a weight reduction to achieve its performance and dynamics that enhancing both on-the-road and track capabilities of the 5 Series.

The design of the M5 is mostly unchanged with the new car, however there are definite differences. There is extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. There is a gold finish on the BMW kidney grille, model badging, and 20-inch forged light alloy wheels. The adaptive LED headlights feature L-shaped light tubes that illuminate to yellow instead of the standard white. There is a BWM Individual Shadowline trim that adds a dark shaded appearance and accentuating the yellow accent lighting.

The M5 CS is available in a standard Brands Hatch grey metallic paint with two optional BMW Individual colors – Frozen Brands Hatch grey metallic and Frozen Deep Green metallic.

2022 BMW M5 CS Sedan: Exterior

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW's engineers have tuned the car's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 to achieve 627 horsepower, a 10-horsepower increase over the Competition model, and 553 pound-feet of torque, delivered in a wider band than the M5 Competition. The engine is paired with an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission with Drivelogic. The M5 CS reaches 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the M5 Competition model. Top speed with the standard M Driver's Package is 190 mph.

The rear-biased M xDrive all-wheel drive system is standard on the car and is able to distribute all of the available torque between the front and rear axles. The Active M Differential further optimizes power between the rear wheels for maximum grip and lateral dynamics.

Drivers can select from three xDrive modes including 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD. The Dynamic Stability Control system can be adjusted to DSC ON, MDM (M Dynamic Mode), and DSC OFF. The Drivelogic switch on the gear selector lever allows three modes - Efficient, Sport, and Track.

There are three drive modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. Individual configuration is available. Drivers can toggle between Road, Sport, and Track settings using the M Mode button. Engaging these modes also changes the look of the driver information screen and head-up display. Road mode is the default setting.

The M Driver's Package also includes a voucher for BMW driver training.

The car's dual-branch, electric flap-controlled sport exhaust system, with quad stainless-steel tips, has a tone that changes depending on the selected mode (Efficient, Sport, or Sport+). Additionally, the M Sound button can soften the exhaust tone for a more understated note.

The M5 CS builds on the M5 Competition Package's offering when it comes to chassis and suspension tuning. There are stiffer engine mounts, firmer springs, a 0.2-inch lower ride height, increased front negative camber, a firmer rear anti-roll bar, and tow-link ball-joint mounts. There has also been furtherspring and Dynamic Damper Control tuning.

Standard mixed-size non-runflat high-performance tires measure 275/35R20 at the front and 285/35R20 at the rear and are fitted to Gold Bronze 20-inch M forged Y-spoke wheels. Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires are available at no cost.

2022 BMW M5 CS Sedan: Interior

Photo courtesy of BMW

This car is the first time BMW has put four-passenger seating in a M model in combination with M carbon sport seats up front and two bucks seats for rear passengers. Headrests on all four seats are imprinted with the map of Nurburgring's Nordschleife.

The interior of the car has black Merino leather with Mugello red accents and contrasting red stitching. The M Alcantara steering wheel has a perforated section with red background and lightweight carbon-fiber shift paddles with matching red trim in the cut-outs and on the back panels. Alcantara is also used for the headliner.

The lightweight black Merino leather center console cover with red double stitching replaces the traditional armrest and together with the absence of the armrest area tray helps to further reduce weight. Red "CS" badging can be seen on the instrument panel and between the rear bucket seats. The M seat belts feature BMW M tri-color stitching and the "M5" badge also appears on the velour M floor mats with bespoke piping and in the illuminated "M5 CS" badge on the door sill finishers.

Pricing for the car will be announced at a later date. The M5 starts at $103,500. Expect the limited edition model to be priced higher.

Trending News