Hit the Trail

10 things true off-roaders will love about the 2021 Ford Bronco

The Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport are designed for true off-roading.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Editor's Note: Sue Mead is a photojournalist and features writer for numerous automative publications and, beyond that, she's co-driven two of the world's toughest off-road races, the Baja 1000 and the Paris-Dakar Raid (Dakar Rally). She also has attended four Camel Trophy adventures for Land Rover North America; gone way off the beaten path in countries far and wide including Mali, Mongolia, Belize, and Bolivia; and authored three books about 4x4s. When it comes to off-roading, there are few that know it better.

Off-roading is having a big moment right now. It's big bucks for automakers who sell vehicles that have 4WD prowess and overlanding potential. It's big fun for vehicle owners that were born with an adventure gene that want to use their vehicle to climb mountains, ford streams, and explore the hinterlands.

2021 Ford Bronco The Ford Bronco has debuted with two sizes, a two-door and a four-door.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2021 Ford Bronco comes in three models built for off-roading. As a seasoned off-road professional, there's a number of equipment and technology features that stand out to me as being particularly good for those of us who like getting off the beaten path.

It comes with a manual

Not all Broncos have manuals, but the ones designed for the most hard-core off-roaders do.

A seven-speed (6+1 crawler gear) Getrag manual transmission on the 2.3-liter engine in the Bronco is made for enthusiasts and racers that want to do their own shifting. A 10-speed automatic is available for the 2.3- and 2.7-liter power plants.

The Bronco Sport is not available with a manual. It comes standard with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmissions. When buyers upgrade to the 2.0-liter EcoBoost power plant they get an eight-speed SelectShift automatic with an oil cooler, manual shifting mode, and paddle shifters.

Removable doors, roof, and body panels

2021 Ford Bronco 2-door perched sunset

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Two-door Bronco models can seat four while four-door versions can accommodate five. Four-door Broncos have removable doors, roof sections, and body panels; the doors can be stowed in the rear in storage bags, if you so choose. Digging into the product info Ford sent over, it looks like additional partial door options are on their way.

The Bronco Sport's doors don't come off.

Numbers a 4x4 enthusiast will love

The two- and-four door Broncos come standard with 4x4 with part-time selectable engagement, two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly, and a 2.72:2 low ratio. Buyers can upgrade to advanced 4x4 with automatic on-demand 4H engagement, a two-speed electromechanical transfer case, and a 3.06:1 low ratio.

Laudable ground clearance, ingenious design choices

2021 Ford Bronco 2-Door Wading Fording Water

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The new Broncos family of SUVs don't just look off-road capable, they truly are. They deliver laudable ground clearance that ranges from 8.4 inches to 11.6 inches and select models can ride on up to 35-inch off-road tires before any aftermarket modifications.

Borrowing the styling and "form follows function" legacy of the heritage Bronco, the two- and four-door Bronco versions have impressive angles of approach (35.5/43.2 degrees); breakover (21.1/29.0 degrees) and departure (29.8/37.2 degrees); along with a maximum water fording depth of 33.5 inches.

Beveled fender tops that can be used as sight lines for driving are an ingenious addition to the model.

Numbers rock crawlers will love

The two- and four-door Broncos are the most capable. Four different crawl ratios are available depending on transmission and transfer case:

  • Automatic transmission with electronic shift-on-the-fly - 57.19:1
  • Manual transmission with electronic shift-on-the-fly - 79.92:1
  • Automatic with electromechanical transfer case - 67.8:1
  • Manual with electromechanical transfer case - 94.75:1
(Maximum ratios with high-capability option packages)

Differentials make a difference

2021 Ford Bronco GIF

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In the rear of the two- and four-door Bronco is a Dana 44 AdvenTEK solid rear axle with available Spicer Performa-TraK electronic locking differentials. Up front, a Dana AdvanTEK independent front differential unit lives, but can be upgraded to a Spicer Performa-TraK electronic locking differential.

G.O.A.T. modes

2021 Ford Bronco interior GOAT Modes

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The original generations of the Bronco were marketed as G.O.A.T.s, vehicles that could go over all terrain. Ford has used this vintage nomenclature to refer to the seven drive modes the Bronco and Bronco Sport can come equipped with that modulate speed and torque delivery for more control, and mannered, safer motoring. These include: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl. Availability of the modes varies by vehicle.

Additionally, Trail Control (cruise control for low-speed trail driving), Trail Turn Assist (tightens off-road turning radiuses with torque vectoring), and Trail One-Pedal Drive (manages acceleration/braking control and adds control and comfort for slow-mode rock crawling) are available.

The suspension is made to be ultra-smooth

2021 Ford Bronco GIF

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Bronco and Bronco Sport's suspension is engineered to smooth the ride and lift and support the chassis over truly rugged terrain.

The two- and four-door versions of the Bronco come standard with twin alloy A-arms and coil-over springs in the front. At the rear, there are solid five-link rear axle with active bushings and coil-over springs. Bilstein position-sensitive shock absorbers with end-stop control valves are available for both axles.

The result is best-in-class suspension travel.

Bronco Sport comes standard with an independent MacPherson strut-type with coil springs, stabilizer bar, twin-tube hydraulic gas-pressured shocks at the front. The rear has an independent double lateral link semi-trailing arms with coil springs, stabilizer bar and monotone hydraulic gas-pressured shocks; as well as an isolated steel subframe with cast knuckle.

Buyers wanting to upgrade can get unique coil springs for the front and rear.

Disconnecting on the run

2021 Ford Bronco

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

A semi-active hydraulic stabilizer bar disconnect design maximizes articulation and increases ramp angle index for off-camber terrain. What is unique is that it allows the bar to disconnect during articulation; it can reconnect under all conditions to improve steering and stability at higher speeds.

Off-roading apps and navigation are taken to a new level

The FordPass Performance app with off-road navigation allows owners to plan, navigate, and share their personal off-road adventures. An advanced topographic trail maps' system boasts more than 1,000 curated trail maps that are powered by class-exclusive trail content from NeoTreks' AccuTerra Maps, Trails Offroad trail guides, and FunTreks trail guides.

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The 2022 Audi Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron mark the fourth and fifth EVs Audi is bringing to the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi isn't just adding two new E-Tron models to its U.S. portfolio. It's expanding its SUV lineup. The 2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron and Q4 Sportback E-Tron at the latest electric vehicles from the automaker.

The two new Q4s have all the muscle proportions and signature styling that has been made a hallmark of the Audi SUV stable in the past few years. The Q4 Sportback features a coupe-like roof style, which traditionally allows for less second-row headroom and cargo space, but an increase in fuel economy. The Q4 e-tron achieves a drag coefficient of 0.28, and the Q4 Sportback e-tron gets to an even lower figure, with a drag coefficient of 0.26, which is good when considered against the competition.

There's matrix design headlights with customizable daytime running light signatures. The driver can switch between their choice of four lighting options to put their favorite face forward. At the rear, animated functionality illuminates the taillamp when a driver approaches or leaves the vehicle.

2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

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Audi is offering the Q4 models in four exterior color options with S line and black optic exterior elements as available add-ons.

The Q4 has similar dimensions to the Q5 inside and out, according to the automaker, but has the advantage of having a flatter floor due to the lack of transmission tunnel. Audi brags that this allows for generous legroom for rear-seat passengers.

The interior of the SUVs features recycled materials and a number of small item storage solutions including water bottle holders and a customizable cargo area load floor.

Audi has designed the new vehicles to have driver-oriented cockpits with the 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen facing the driver. There's a freshly designed flat-top and bottom steering wheel with capacitive hands-on detection. A 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster sits in front of the driver.

Surround view cameras, a head up display that features augmented reality, and a Sonos premium sound system are available. Sonos is a new partnership for the automaker.

2022 Audi Q4 Sportback E-Tron

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

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Audi estimates that the car has an output of 201 horsepower in its base model. The line-topping Q5 50 E-Tron Quattro and Q4 Sportback 50 E-Tron Quattro will offer two electric motors and all-wheel drive, delivering a maximum 295 horsepower.

As with on-demand four- or all-wheel drive, the two-motor system only uses the front motor when high power or a strong grip is needed. The rear motor is permanently excited.

Three-stage braking regeneration is selectable via the car's steering wheel paddles. Separately, drivers can choose between four different drive modes: Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, and Individual.

Each Q4 comes with a 77-kilowatt-hour battery (net; 82 kilowatt-hour gross). The battery can charge at up to 125 kilowatts on a fast-charger. Preliminary manufacturer's estimated range based on approximation of EPA test cycles for a full charge is approximately 250 miles on the Q4 40 E-Tron.

Adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, side and lane assist, automatic high beams, and traffic jam assist are offered on the vehicle.

Audi plans to have more fully electric models on sale in the U.S. than any other luxury brand by the end of 2021. The Q4 E-Tron is set to start at under $45,000. More pricing details are expected to be announced ahead of the car's on-sale date later this year.

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The Lexus Club provides a VIP event day experience.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The Houston Dynamo Football Club and Lexus have partnered to create a new luxury fan experience at BBVA Stadium. A new multi-year agreement makes Lexus the Exclusive Luxury Automobile partner of Houston Dynamo FC, the Houston Dash, and BBVA Stadium.

Thea agreement includes an all-inclusive premium seating area inside BBVA Stadium, which will be called the Lexus Club. Guests will have access to an air conditioned space during games, a private menmbers-only bar, and all-inclusive food and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the match.

"We are thrilled to welcome Lexus to our Club family and to introduce our fans to the new-look Lexus Lounge this season," said Club President John Walker. "The Lexus brand is synonymous with luxury and enjoyment, and we couldn't imagine a better partner to align with the premium experience at BBVA Stadium."

Lexus Club at BBVA Stadium

Photo courtesy of Lexus

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Lexus will also serve as the presenting sponsor of the Club's year-end awards celebration, an even formerly known as the Dynamo Celebration. Traditionally, this event honors the most outstanding players on the team.

The agreement also makes Lexus the entitlement sponsor of 'Keys to the Game,' a digital series that will be featured on the club's social media channels and run through the regular season.

Lexus drivers also benefit from the partnership. The first 75 Lexus owners to arrive at the Lexus Lot, located off of Texas Ave. at Bastrop St. on the north end of BBVA Stadium, will receive complimentary parking on Houston Dynamo FC game days; and Lexus drivers in that lot will receive free car washes during the match at select Dynamo matches.

Additionally, Lexus drivers will also receive an exclusive 10 percent discount at the adidas Dynamo Team Shop inside BBVA Stadium, simply by showing their Lexus key fob upon checkout on Dynamo and Dash match days.

The Lexus Club will host its first event this evening when the Houston Dynamo play the San Jose Earthquakes.

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