Off-Roading

Ford confirms Bronco's return to off road racing, announces Baja 1000 entry

Ford has confirmed that the Bronco will return to off road racing this year, as a prototype.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford will mark the new Bronco's return to off road racing in this year's Baja 1000. AutomotiveMap's first reported that Ford was working on an off-road racing variant of the SUV earlier in October.

Today, the automaker unveiled the Bronco R next to the 1969 Baja 1000 winner Bronco, which was piloted by Rod Hall and Larry Minor. The new Bronco R will be driven in part by Shelby Hall, Rod's granddaughter, who will drive in honor of her grandfather.

The top-secret event took place at the start of SEMA week in Las Vegas, on the day that Rod Hall is being honored at the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, located nearby the dry lake bed where the new race vehicle was revealed to a small contingent of the automotive press.

The one-off tribute vehicle will test the powertrain and suspension of the forthcoming Bronco model, which will officially debut in the spring of 2020. It features numerous tributes to the Hall Racing history including the No. "2069" on the rear quarter panel wing. The "20" tells of the class of the vehicle while the "69" signifies what year Hall Racing first won the race, which was then known as the Mexican 1000.

Ford Bronco R

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The new Bronco R will race in the 2019 Baja 1000.

"I am so excited and so honored to be a part of Ford's team to bring the Bronco back to off-road racing," said Shelby Hall as the dust settled and she stepped out of the restored Bronco that her grandfather Rod Hall drove in the 1969 Baja 1000. That legendary win spawned a career that bestowed him with the accolade of "winningest racer of the Baja 1000" and made him one of the most-renowned desert racers in the world.

Shelby Hall is a third-generation Hall family racer, who was trained by and had raced with her grandfather many times, and now will be part of Ford's team when this year's Baja starts in Encenada, Mexico later this month. "The adventure continues for my family—and for Rod, even though he passed away earlier this year. It will be his 50th birthday the day the race starts and the 50th anniversary of his Baja 1000 win, when we strap into the new Bronco R race truck. We will be taking the Bronco back to the Baja and I can imagine him sitting in this new race Bronco—and whooping it up!"

The Bronco R's story all began in July, hidden behind a security door in a Ford studio basement. Led by Paul Wraith, Bronco chief designer, the Bronco R was co-developed by Ford Performance in collaboration with builder Geiser Bros. Design and Development and Baja 1000 Trophy Truck champion Cameron Steele.

Ford Unveils Bronco R, Will Return to Baja 1000 | Ford Performance www.youtube.com

"For me, it's an awesome opportunity to step into the new Bronco R in the upcoming Baja 1000 and follow in the footsteps of a famed racer that I got to see and know as a kid growing up, " said Cameron Steele, one of the country's top off-road racers who started watching the Baja races at age 2, began navigating for his Dad 36 years ago and started his own career 32 years ago. "It's mysterious to be in these shoes."

The team created a design that is informed by Ford's Bronco heritage and modern off-roading equipment requirements. The team used cutting-edge tools including virtual reality, polygon modeling, and 3D printing to develop parts. Low-fidelity prototyping and role-playing aided their problem-solving during development.

Ford says that this model has a compressed body height, long-travel suspension, and ultra-wide stance, giving a few solid clues about what to expect from the forthcoming Bronco.

It has a slightweight composite body that includes a clamshell hood and roof. There are also clean body panels that are reminiscent of the first-generation Bronco. Washers inscribed with the Bronco name are can be found around the exterior.

Recaro seats provide the interior accommodations for three. There is also a MoTeC data acquisition system.

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New SUV Review

2021 Ford Bronco review: Return of a legend

Several of the Bronco's body panels are removable.

Ford

Ford says its 2021 Bronco is 'Built Wild' like its wild-horse namesake and, as this iconic model returns to the U.S. market after a 25-year hiatus, it's ready to gallop to glory once again. Released from the Ford stables in 1965, the Bronco was America's first-ever "sport ute" and heralded as the first "4WD sports car" with both off-road capability and on-road competency; it was also dubbed the "G.O.A.T." (goes over any terrain). The all-new model is reincarnated as a modern-day midsize SUV with heritage-inspired styling; rugged engineering; and a collection of smart technologies for the backcountry and four-wheeling, as well as for a smoothish ride around town and on the highway. It marries the tough attributes of Ford's F-Series trucks with a fully-boxed steel-ladder frame and advanced 4WD systems to the performance spirit of the Mustang—and, once again, is nicknamed G.O.A.T! Larger than its stablemate, the Bronco Sport competes with vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee, while the Bronco is a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler. It goes on sale this summer starting at $29,995

Bronco Trims and Configurations


2021 Ford Bronco Two- and four-door versions of the Bronco are available.Ford


The new Bronco comes in 4WD only, and is available in a two-door version that seats four people or a four-door model with room for five, plus hard-top and soft-top options. There are two engine choices: A turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4 that offers up to 300 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque (best-in-class) is standard. It pairs with either a 10-speed auto or a 7-speed manual. The optional engine is a 2.7-liter V6 with a twin turbo that produces 330 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, which is also best-in-class. The V6 is available only with the ten-speed automatic transmission.

The manual transmission has six traditional gears, plus a "crawler gear" that has a best-in-class gear ratio of 94.75:1. There are seven Bronco models that include Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, Wildtrak and a limited First Edition that quickly sold out when order banks opened.

Bronco Features and Styling

The Bronco comes in a staggering number of exclusive color combinations that vary between models. The highly configurable off-roader is designed for both novice and hard-core 4WD experts, with easily removable roof panels, bumper sections and doors that can be stored in the trunk.

Though all-new, the latest Bronco takes its design cues from the proportions, square, boxy looks and flat sides of the original model. Large, open wheel wells are amplified by removeable bolt-on front and rear fenders, while the Bronco's fender flares sport quick-release fasteners to help with customization. Interior appointments vary by model but are designed to appeal to the heart and lifestyle of weekend warriors and 4WD adventurers with durable, with waterproof surfaces, an off-road performance app, and an available 12-inch LCD touchscreen paired with Ford's SYNC4 system touchscreen (an 8-inch is standard), among other communication and audio features. A 12-volt hook-up and USB power connections are at-the-ready to mount cameras, navigation units, phones or other devices.

Bronco First Drive Impressions


2021 Ford Bronco Several color combinations are available with various Bronco trims.Ford


We tried out 5 different models during our test drive that began in the urban environment of Austin, TX and took us to Ford's first Off Roadeo 4WD playground in Marble Falls. Our road-going drive was in a 2-door Outer Banks model with the manual transmission. On the plus side, the manual shifts smoothly, and we had the opportunity to use the crawler gear at a local boat launch. On a steep uphill over loose-surface terrain-we found it suitably impressive.

In general, there was good power, plenty of torque, and competent steering that carved the twisty roads with ease. The Bronco offers surprisingly smooth braking, although we'd like the brakes to be a bit "taller" for more aggressive stopping. Notable is the quietness of the cabin and comfort of the seats. Our only complaints were seatbelts that are not height-adjustable and a couple of ergonomics complaints for our 5'2" driver (although Ford is looking into making changes for both!).

We navigated our way through three off-road courses designed by 4WD experts that included rocky terrain, muddy motoring and dirt two-track with up and downhill climbs. We were impressed with Ford's Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. (goes over any terrain) modes, which allow up to seven driver-selectable settings (Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, plus Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-roading). Two 4WD systems include a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case and an optional two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode for on-demand selection between 2H and 4H. A Dana 44 solid rear axle and Dana independent front differential unit are both available, as electronic locking differentials-provide more grunt. Bead-lock 17-inch wheels compliment aggressive off-road tires.

We also tested the Bronco's Trail Toolbox, which is a suite of off-road technologies that includes Trail Control (cruise control for low-speed trail driving), class-exclusive Trail Turn Assist (tightens off-road turning radiuses through torque vectoring), and Trail One-Pedal Drive (aids in acceleration/braking control for precise and confident low-speed rock crawling).

The Bronco's four-wheel-drive attributes include:

  • Up to 11.5-inches of ground clearance
  • 43.2-degree approach, 26.3-degree breakover and 37.0-degree departure angles
  • Best-in-class water fording of up to 33.5 inches (w/ optional 35-inch tires that are available on every series)
  • Steel underbody armor to protect vulnerable parts and an available front bash plate
  • Heavy-duty modular steel front bumper w/ an integrated accessory winch mount
  • Side rock rails
  • Standard front and rear tow hooks
  • Sway bar disconnect
  • A 360-degree camera system with class-exclusive off-road spotter views for additional visibility in technical off-road terrain
  • Trail sites (a styling cue from the first Broncos) on the front fenders that also serve as tie-downs with a 150-lb. capacity for securing longer items, such as canoes.

The Bronco moves with ease at both slow- and high-speeds as a result of its class-leading front and rear suspension travel with a high-performance off-road stability suspension system (HOSS). Up front is an independent front suspension set-up with a solid rear axle with long-travel coil springs; suspension systems vary by model-for instance, the Sasquatch off-road package (available on all models) and standard on Badlands is long-travel position-sensitive Bilstein dampers, with end-stop control valves that allow more articulation, reduce harshness and bring durability.


2021 Ford Bronco The Bronco can be ordered with either a hard or soft top.Ford


After years of buildup and speculation, the Ford Bronco had to be good, and for the most part it accomplishes that goal. The combination of technology and off-road prowess, combined with a mostly reasonable price tag, should be enough for the Ford to put up serious competition against the Jeep Wrangler and other off-road SUVs.

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New off-roader

Ford Bronco Production Officially Begins

The Ford Bronco is finally ready for primetime.

Ford

The time is finally here. After years of speculation and several months of pandemic-related delays, the Ford Bronco is starting to roll off the assembly line. The SUV marks the first new Bronco model in Ford's lineup in 15 years, not counting the Bronco Sport, and is one of the most hyped and sought-after vehicles to hit the market in quite some time. Ford's announcement that production has begun will be accompanied by a special YouTube presentation that Ford says will include interviews with the Bronco team and with reservation holders at the automaker's new Modification Center.


2021 Ford Bronco Ford added 2,700 jobs to support Bronco production.Ford


Bronco production has driven Ford to invest $750 million into its Michigan Assembly Plant, and the automaker says it has added 2,700 jobs to support the rollout. Ford's push to begin production can't come soon enough. Over 125,000 Bronco orders have been placed, and multiple delays have pushed the vehicle's arrival back, meaning there is considerable demand for the off-road legend.

Ford is ready to capitalize on the craze and will offer several ways to customize the new vehicle. At its 1.7 million square-foot Modification Center, The Blue Oval will factory-install several optional modifications that include equipment such as a front bumper safari bar, graphics packages, roof racks, and more. That's on top of more than 200 factory-backed accessories that can be installed at the dealer, either at or after the time of purchase.


2021 Ford Bronco Delays and production difficulties have pushed the Bronco back.Ford


If you are hoping to get behind the wheel of a new Bronco, it could be a while. Even buyers that have been in line for a while now might not see their new vehicle until late 2021 or 2022, and the vehicle's official rollout will almost certainly re-spike demand. Even so, many feel it's worth the wait, and Ford's vehicle configuration tool is live, so go check it out for yourself.

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