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

 
 

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group, the parent company of Hyundai, has announced the formation of a new unit - New Horizons Studio. The new venture is focused on the development of what Hyundai calls Ultimate Mobility Vehicles (UMVs).

New Horizons Studio is part of Hyundai's larger focus on the future of mobility. Unit workers will work to envision vehicles that wander with "unprecedented mobility". These products will focus on target customers that have unconventional travel needs whether it be to access places they have never been or adapt their mobility limitations to their surroundings.

Hyundai 'Elevate' Walking Car Concept

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

New Horizons Studio is led by Vice President Dr. John Suh, who has held several leadership roles at Hyundai Motor Group since 2011. He served as founding director of Hyundai Ventures, and then led Hyundai CRADLE (Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences) as its founding director based in Silicon Valley. He brings over 35 years of expertise in the automotive and emerging technology sectors, including roles at Stanford University, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC; formerly, Xerox PARC), and General Motors Company.

"We aim to create the world's first transformer-class vehicle, also known as the Ultimate Mobility Vehicle," said Dr. Suh.

Dr. Ernestine Fu will move to New Horizons Studio as Director of Product Management. She has led research on human operator and autonomous vehicle interactions at Stanford University's Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab, as well as scaled emerging technology companies for over nine years as a venture capital partner at Alsop Louie Partners.

The Hyundai Elevate is the first vehicle being developed by the Studio. It debuted at CES 2019 and does not rely solely on wheels to makes it way across urban, suburban, and rural landscapes. The unit sees the Elevate as being able to respond in emergency situations like natural disasters or assist with persons who do not have access to an ADA ramp.

Trending News

 
 

The Lamborghini Urus Graphite Capsule adds new interior and exterior color choices for buyers.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

Expressions in color and trim meet at the Urus Graphite Capsule, a collection of SUVs produced by super luxury automaker Lamborghini. The Urus itself sits at the intersection of performance and practicality, and is the best-selling model in the Lamborghini lineup.

The Urus Graphite Capsule lets buyers push the limit in a pick-and-choose fashion. Lamborghini will offer the Urus Graphite Capsule in four new exterior matte colors including white Bianco Monocerus, black Nero Noctis, and grey Grigio Nimbus and Grigio Keres. The lower parts of the car, the front, rear, and side sills, are all finished in the color.

Lamborghini Urus Graphite Capsule

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

From there, buyers are able to choose from four tiny accent colors: orange Arancio Leonis and Arancio Dryope, yellow Giallo Taurus, and green Verde Scandal. Those accent colors are shown on the front splitter, door inserts, and rear spoiler.

The cabin of the Urus sports the same traditional design the SUV has had during this, its initial generation. The Urus Graphite Capsule check box adds dark, anodized aluminium trim on the dashboard and door panels, with new matt-finish carbon fiber inserts. The buyer's choice of exterior colors are carried over to the inside where upholstery is contrast stitched. Q-citura stitching and the embroidered Lamborghini logo reside on the headrests.

The ventilated Alcantara seats are an exclusive option only available on the Urus Graphite Capsule and the recently launched Pearl Capsule.

"The new Graphite Capsule endorses the inimitable versatility of the Lamborghini Urus as the original Super SUV: its color and styling is as adaptable and versatile as its presence in every high-performance and lifestyle environment." said Automobili Lamborghini Chief Commercial Officer Giovanni Perosino. "The inherent design of the Lamborghini Urus, with the DNA of our super sports heritage, lends itself to virtually limitless potential for personalizing color and trim. The Urus Graphite Capsule is the latest collection to offer our growing clientele the opportunity to stamp their individuality and way of life on their Lamborghini."

The Urus Graphite Capsule is available on Urus model year 2021. It has a starting MSRP of $218,009 in the U.S.

Trending News