Road Trip

2020's Best pop-up travel trailers

The pop-up travel trailers on this list are priced for budget-conscious travelers and those with larger amounts to spend.

Photo courtesy of OPUS

As U.S. states begin relaxing shelter-in-place restrictions due to COVID-19, many Americans are going to find it hard to resist the urge to get outdoors and away from home. One popular pursuit will undoubtedly be camping under the stars.

Pop-up travel trailers are a great option for those wanting to maintain a healthy amount of social distancing — sleeping off the ground in an actual bed — insulated from the elements and other campers. An economical addition for active outdoorsy families, pop-ups can be decked out with comforts similar to larger fifth-wheel trailers or even full-size RVs, yet offer compactness, maneuverability, convenience and lower cost when compared to larger recreational vehicles.

Read on for a sampling of unique pop-up travel trailers for 2020. Note that prices are sourced from manufacturer websites or NADA Guides.

Aliner Expedition

Photo courtesy of Aliner

Approx. Starting Price: $20,660
At 18 feet long, 84 inches wide with a road height of 68 inches, the Expedition has the biggest footprint of any Aliner trailer, yet it is still has one of the fastest setup times among tent trailers. The company says Expeditions are a full 30 percent bigger than their other models, yet still only require about 30 seconds to pop up.

The Expedition comes in four floor plans, and three of those include an optional toilet. The Expedition has a standard slideout kitchen, yet the entire camper weighs less than 2,000 pounds so it can be towed by a variety of vehicles. There are other lower-priced Aliners, but the roomy Expedition is a true beauty.

AWOL Outdoors Camp365

Photo courtesy of AWOL Outdoors

Approx. Starting Price: $19,995
Billed as the "world's first fold-out cabin" as well as "the cabin that goes everywhere," the Camp365 is designed and built in Minnesota. The trailer's aluminum alloy steel reinforced frame offers light weight as well as strength and durability; the trailer's shell is aluminum too, so the unit weighs under 1,500 pounds. The cabin uses no wood or canvas that can mold, rip, rot or fade, and its aerodynamic shape makes the Camp365 easy to store as well as transport. It can be towed by any vehicle equipped with a Class I hitch — including most ATVs.

The Camp365 cabin is 700 cubic feet and has almost 40 cubic feet of dry storage, as well as five tinted windows; options include air-conditioning and heating, shower and bath, an off-road wheel kit, customized beds and more. The cabin can be configured for almost any occasion — even happy hour.

Coachmen Clipper Sport 108ST

Photo courtesy of Coachmen

Approx. Starting Price: $15,043
Weighing in at 2,687 pounds, the Coachmen Clipper Sport 108ST spans almost 17 feet closed; open it is more than 20 feet long thanks to the pull-out queen-size beds. The Clipper Sport features an E-coated tubular steel frame, a dual-drive winch, a Goshen lift system, a 4-layer laminated seamless roof, laminated fiberglass walls, LED exterior lights, and a power roof vent, to name a few.

Optional features for the Coachmen Clipper Sport include an Essentials Package with a 3-way power refrigerator, a 20,000 BTU furnace, an awning, electric brakes and a spare tire carrier. The Clipper Sport can also be outfitted with an exterior wall-mounted grill, a 40- or 80-watt Zamp portable solar panel, a screen room, a Thetford porta potty and a bike rack.

Coachmen Viking V-Trec

Approx. Starting Price: $16,595
Coachmen's Viking V-Trec comes in three different floor plans: the lowest-price V1 with a queen-size bed at each end; the V2 with a queen bed at one end and a king bed at the other end; and the V3 with a slide-out dinette as well as a queen bed at one end and a king-size bed over a full cargo deck on the other end.

Similar to the Clipper Sport, the Viking comes with many standard features as well as the Glide-N-Lock bed support system that eliminates the need for support poles under the beds. The V-Trec V3 weighs in at 4,42 pounds and has an exterior length of almost 22 feet. The V3 floor plan shown above includes a wet bath with a toilet and standup shower.

​Forest River Flagstaff 176SE

Photo courtesy of Forest River


Approx. Starting Price: $12,993
Forest River's entry-level Flagstaff 176SE is 12 feet long and weighs 1,772 pounds; it has a standard (42-inch wide) and a full (54-inch wide) bed at either end, as well as a sink, fridge, café table, range and cabinet storage in the living space. The Flagstaff model line has a Sports Enthusiast package designed for active families, couples and campers with a sense of adventure.

The Flagstaff trailers with the SE package have ProRac Systems crossbars to carry up to 150 pounds of gear and toys. The SEs also include an AM/FM stereo with Bluetooth, an MP3 player and USB ports for streaming and charging, LED lighting and a Wi-Fi booster. The Flagstaff SE series is also solar-ready, has 12 inches of ground clearance and 15-inch off-road wheels and tires.

​Forest River Rockwood 1640LTD

Photo courtesy of Forest River

Approx. Starting Price: $8,754
Another entry trailer that weighs less than 1,500 pounds (1,465 to be exact) yet sleeps six campers is the Forest River Rockwood Freedom Series 1640LTD (larger 2514F shown above, click to the video below to see full model walkaroud). The Rockwood Freedom series is all about giving tent trailer campers the ability to find the perfect camper for their needs. All Rockwoods are constructed with powder-coated tubular steel frames, rafter poles and bed bows; and one-piece doors.

Rockwoods also feature full perimeter aluminum bedframes and air-conditioning reinforcing laminated into the roof. Similar to the Flagstaff line, the Rockwood line can also be equipped with many optional features including awning lights, a refrigerator, heated mattresses, and ProRac bike and kayak racks.

​Jayco Jay Sport

Photo courtesy of Jayco

Approx. Starting Price: $13,770
The Jayco Jay Sport is still on dealer lots, but it is limited to stock on hand since this model is no longer being produced. The Jay Sport comes in four floor plans with base prices that range from $13,000 to 17,000. Lengths range from 8.5 to 18.5 feet with beds ranging from 42 to 70 inches in width. Jay Sport campers can also be equipped with a Baja Package that includes 15-inch Goodyear off-road tires, 5 additional inches of ground clearance as well as a double entry step to accommodate the extra height.

All Jay Sport versions have a sink, a hinged galley, a cabinet for a porta-potty, an indoor/outdoor stove, vinyl flooring and residential cabinets. Each floor plan also has a Customer Value Package consisting of an awning, a 28-gallon water tank, stabilizer jacks, a 2 cubic foot 3-way power reefer, front and rear black diamond plating and a spare tire. The option packages are additional cost.

​OPUS Off-Road 4-Sleeper

Approx. Starting Price: $29,000
The OPUS tent trailer has a unique setup system. The company says setup takes two minutes; all campers need to do is open the trailer, secure the bed ends and start the inflation system. The lower walls of the camper are constructed of aluminum dibond and polystyrene insulation, and the trailer sits on a powder-coated tubular frame. The trailer sections unfold with the aid of pressurized gas springs, allowing one-person setup.

The exterior of the OPUS also has a slideout kitchen including a slideout Dometic reefer and storage drawers. Inside, beds at each end sleep two each, and the interior can be configured in myriad ways to accommodate a sink, microwave, 2-burner stove, a table, a seating area and storage space.

​Somerset Grand Tour Utah

Photo courtesy of Somerset

Approx. Starting Price: $22,440
The Somerset line is part of the Aliner family, and both are owned by Columbia Northwest. The Utah is a great option because of its one-piece aluminum-skinned roof and Sunbrella tent fabric, as well as its steel wall construction. Exterior features include outside speakers, stabilizer jacks, allow wheels and chrome lug nuts.

All models in the Somerset line include indoor stoves, stereos, a water heater, a furnace, a water pump, a 3-way power refrigerator (propane, shore, battery), and a 35-amp converter with a charger. It's interesting to note that the Somerset series comes in only one floor plan, which the company says — after 40-plus years of building tent trailers — their one layout is best.

Sylvansport GO

Photo courtesy of Sylvansport

Approx. Starting Price: $8,995
One of the most versatile trailers on this list, the Sylvansport GO is a camper, gear hauler and utility trailer all in one. The innovative, lightweight design lets active families use the GO for many applications — from camping under the stars to hauling a washer and dryer home from a big box store. The TIG-welded, powder-coated aluminum frame and diamond-plate aluminum deck stand up to abuse.

As a camper, the GO features a versatile tent floor plan. The tent material is made from 220-denier ripstop nylon, and Sylvansport offers attachable awnings and accessories to make the GO an even bigger camp tool. One might be tempted to call the Sylvansport GO the Swiss Army knife of tent trailers.

​TAXA Outdoors Cricket

Photo courtesy of TAXA

Approx. Starting Price: $34,983
What we would call a literal pop-top trailer, the TAXA Outdoors Cricket is a fully hard-sides trailer that raises its roof in a cantilever style when set up. The 15-foot Cricket has a powder-coated steel chassis, a laser-cut aluminum skeleton, it weighs 1,800 pounds and sleeps two adults and two children. TAXA calls the Cricket a "NASA-inspired design."

The Cricket has many features as standard equipment including a large picture window, a generous kitchen area with a counter and sink, interior LED lighting, a Truma combo furnace and water heater, an exterior hot and cold shower, a roof exhaust fan and 12 USB ports. Options include a porta-potty, Thule load bars, a kids' berth and a Dometic refrigerator.

Turtleback Adventure Trail

Photo courtesy of Turtleback Trailers

Approx. Starting Price: $18,495
Although there is an entry-level trailer called the Adventure at $12,995, the one to get it is the next level up: the Turtleback Adventure Trail. All the standard features of the Adventure are there, including the CNC-cut, galvanized steel trailer with bedliner coating, Timbren suspension, forward and aft receiver hitches, a full aluminum floor and main box, and an OZtent Outer Ridge Venturer trailer tent with a fully enclosed room and awning.

The Adventure Trail also has a full single-battery electrical system, an interior / exterior lighting kit, 12-volt socket and USB ports, a kitchen with maple-topped birch cabinetry as well as a stove and a Dometic stainless steel sink, a 21-gallon BPA-free water tank with on-demand pump, and an 11-pound tank for accessory grills, heaters, etc. And this is not even a complete list of features or equipment. Finally, proud Turtleback owners (and wannabees) attend "Herd of Turtle Gatherings" throughout the country during temperate months.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Ford Bronco is back.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The debut of the 2021 Ford Bronco family of SUVs is perhaps the most anticipated vehicle launch in the last decade. Maybe longer. Now, the wait is over.

The 2021 Ford Bronco will come in three variants. There's the two- and four-door Bronco and the four-door Bronco Sport. The Bronco models feature body lines and attributes most similar to the original Broncos while the Bronco Sport is a lifestyle-focused off-road capable model.

Ford's design team has given the Bronco, more so than the Bronco Sport, a look that balances heritage and modernity equally. While there's always enthusiasts who will be disappointed, it's hard to find too much fault with the translation.

Two- and Four-Door 2021 Ford Bronco

The two- and four-door Bronco 4x4 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.3-liter engine that achieves 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission (six traditional gears and one crawler gear). A 10-speed automatic is available.

2021 Ford Bronco The models can have their doors and roof removed.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Buyers can upgrade to a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 that gets 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

The two-door has a 100.4-inch wheelbase and the four-door comes in at 116.1 inches. Under the body are Dana 44-inch AdvanTEX axles and locking differentials at the front and back. Length varies slightly by trim level, as does height.

Part-time selectable engagement 4x4 capability comes standard. Advanced 4x4 with automatic, on-demand 4H engagement is available. Technology allows for electronic shift-on-the-fly capability.

Ford has equipped the models with up to seven G.O.A.T. Modes, via the Terrain Management System. The drive modes allow drivers to have confidence in the capability of their vehicle and take advantage of some technology while they're at it. The modes are Normal, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl.

2021 Ford Bronco The Bronco and Bronco Sport come with G.O.A.T. Modes.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Two-door Broncos come standard with a three-section roof system that's removable. A four-section removable roof is available. Roof panels are able to be removed by one person and stored in the vehicle.

A cloth top is standard on four-door models. A removable hardtop is available.

The two-door has a base ground clearance of 8.4 inches and up to 11.6 inches of clearance. The four-door has one-tenth inch less ground clearance.

It rides on wheels ranging from 16- to 18-inches, depending on trim level. Tires ranging from 30 to 35 inches are standard issue, supplied by Bridgestone, General Tire, BF Goodrich, and Goodyear.

2021 Ford Bronco The 2021 Ford Bronco can be optioned up to look bug-out ready.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

All models have a 3,500-pound towing capacity. Trail sights on the front fenders allow for up to 150 pounds of tie-down capacity.

Buyers will have access to over 200 factory-backed accessories at launch when the vehicles arrive in dealership in the spring.

The interior of the Bronco is available with rinse-out and drainage solutions. It's home to a classic dashboard that features up to a 12-inch, SYNC 4-run infotainment touch screen. More than 1,000 trail maps are available through the screen's trail guides system. Content can be created and shared with friends via on-screen functionality.

The 2021 Ford Bronco starts at $29,995 and comes in Base, Big Bed, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, Badlands, and First Edition trim levels.

2021 Ford Bronco The interior of the Bronco holds true to its heritage, with refined, modern touches.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Built alongside the Ford Escape, the 2021 Bronco Sport is very different than the hot-selling SUV. It has a completely different look inside and out, and a different wheelbase. Though still rugged, the Bronco Sport isn't as capable as its two- and four-door family members. However, its thoughtful innovations are smart ways to win over adventurers.

Ford will sell the Bronco Sport in Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks, Badlands, and First Edition trim levels. Reservations are open now and the vehicles will arrive at dealerships later this year.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Ford will make over 100 accessories available for the Bronco Sport when it arrives at dealerships nationwide later this year.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Bronco Sport comes standard with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that gets 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. An upgraded 2.0-liter EcoBoost is available that yields 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Like the Bronco, the Bronco Sport has a Terrain Management System with up to seven available G.O.A.T. Modes. In its top Badlands grade, the model features four steel bash plates, frame-mounted tow hooks, and up to 23.6 inches of water fording capability. The small SUV is no slouch.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The Bronco Sport is capable of some serious off-roading.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The five-seater has best-in-class first- and second-row headroom. Folding down the rear seats allows enough room for two standing 27.5-inch wheel mountain bikes to be stowed on an interior Yakima bike accessory rack. A slide-out working table is available as well as a 400-watt inverter, and liftgate floodlamps.

A flip-glass rear window, low-load cargo floor, and roof rack are designed to make life on the trail easier. Bronco Sport will launch with over 100 available accessories.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Large mountain bikes fit in the cargo area of the model.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford is giving every Bronco Sport an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen display that features the SYNC 3 operating system and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

The Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assist and safety technology is standard across the lineup.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The interior of the Bronco Sport is more refined than the Bronco's.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport starts at $28,115.

Find out more

You can find out more about the trim levels, color options, off-road prowess, and history of the Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport by growing AutomotiveMap's laundry list of Bronco family premier coverage.

The competition

The three-model debut has already begun to draw comparisons between the Jeep Wrangler and the Ford Bronco. We sorted it out here.

Jeep tried to take a bite out of Bronco's big debut with a large horsepower announcement of their own. Read more here.

Reserve yours today

You can reserve yours now for just $100. Find out more here.

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The Ford Bronco is back for the 2021 model year and ready to take on the Jeep Wrangler

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The return of the Ford Bronco has been hotly anticipated for over a decade. It's a product that has been rumored and speculated more than probably any other car in recent history. Finally, it is here. It's real. It's legit. It's going to try to take sales away from the Jeep Wrangler.

The Jeep Wrangler is a sales darling. It holds its value well. Though it is only ever is completely updated about once a decade, and it still operates on some of the same basic principles it had since its inception in 1941. It's rough. It's hardly luxurious. But, if you're going to go out on some of the roughest terrain on the planet, it's the vehicle you want to take.

2020 Jeep Wrangler The Jeep Wrangler is able to conquer some of the toughest terrain passable by motor vehicle. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's a high bar to reach for. Up until now, no one has really taken Jeep on directly. Sure, the Nissan Xterra did and Toyota 4Runner will do most of what a Jeep can. But, the Wrangler hasn't had a direct competitor in the modern marketplace. Until now.

Off-roading, like trucks, is a bit of a religion. Folks who are in the Jeep camp are unlikely to switch to the Ford Bronco. There's also a swath of Ford fans out there who wouldn't want a Jeep if it was given to them. But now that there's serious competition, there will be a battle. It seems only appropriate to now, on the launch of the much-anticipated Ford Bronco, to compare it to the Jeep Wrangler to see if they've hit the mark. Perhaps they've even exceeded it?

Rock Crawling

The Jeep Wrangler is seen on streets and trails around the country. They're popular in warm beach areas because you can remove the doors and the roof and take in the ocean or lake breeze. But that's not really where the Wrangler shines. Rock crawling is what the Wrangler is particularly adept at, and rock crawling is a serious test of vehicle capability.

2020 Jeep Wrangler The 2020 Jeep Wrangler's new EcoDiesel powertrain is muscular and smooth Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

A fully-spec'd Wrangler Rubicon has solid front and rear axles – like all Wranglers – that are sourced from Dana. The Dana 44 axles have front and rear lockers for improved grip. An electronic disconnecting sway bar allows for improved wheel articulation and traction. A low range transfer case helps with torque multiplication to help with getting power to the wheels. Standard all-terrain or selectable mud-terrain tires help with the actual gripping of the rock itself.

The Wrangler is even available with a winch-capable steel bumper group. No, the winch isn't standard but a quick browse of the Mopar accessory catalog will find a nice synthetic Warn winch that'll do the job nicely.

The Bronco will also be able to rock crawl. It doesn't have a solid front axle like the Wrangler, which Jeep would likely claim as a weak point on the Bronco, but real-world testing hasn't confirmed that yet. The Bronco does use Dana differentials in the front and rear. The rear axle is rigid like the Wrangler.

To grip the rocks, the Bronco has optional 35-inch tires straight from the factory. The Wrangler can support 35-inch tires without the need for an additional lift, but the standard tires only go as large as 33-inches in size.

2021 Ford Bronco Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Bronco also has a low speed transfer case. A seven-speed manual transmission features a special crawl gear to further enhance to torque multiplication of the transfer case to provide a class leading crawl ratio.

When equipped with the manual transmission, the Wrangler Rubicon with the 4.10 final drive has a crawl ratio of 84.2:1. The crawl gear on the Bronco, combined with the 4.70 rear end on the Bronco Badlands with the manual is 95.2:1.

Accessing the crawl gear on the Bronco is similar to putting it in reverse. The same collar that protects reverse protects crawl. Instead of up to the left, the crawl is down to the left.

Crawl ratio alone isn't the be all, end all. But the Bronco should creep slower than the Wrangler.

The Bronco also features an electronic sway bar disconnect to help with wheel articulation. Ford claims the system can work in more scenarios, disconnecting during articulation and being able to reconnect under all conditions.

2021 Ford Bronco Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has a 44-degree approach angle on the two-door model and a 43.9-degree angle on the four-door model. The breakover angle is 27.8-degrees on the two-door and 22.6-degrees on the four-door. The departure angle is 37-degrees.

The Rubicon has 10.8-inches of ground clearance.

The fully tricked out Bronco Badlands with the Sasquatch package, which gets the buyer the 35-inch tires, has an approach angle of 43.2-degrees. It has a breakover angle of 26.3-degrees. The model has a 37-degree departure angle.

The two-door Bronco has a departure angle of 37.2-degrees

The Bronco Badlands Sasquatch has 11.5-inches of ground clearance.

Ford doesn't break the two-door and four-door models up for determining angles, but the Wrangler wins the day slightly on approach and two-door breakover, while the Bronco wins against Wrangler four-door breakover. Departure angles are close to a tie.

2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

General Off-Road Use

The extra ground clearance on the Bronco helps in a lot of ways during normal trail use. That includes water fording. At 5 mph, the Wrangler Rubicon can ford 30-inches of water. When equipped with the Sasquatch package, the Bronco can ford 33-inches of water.

The satellite navigation system in the Wrangler can keep track of where you've been, so you can find your way back and save your route. The Bronco, though, eliminates the need for you take trail maps with you at all.

The FordPass Performance App with off-road navigation will come populated with curated trail maps powered by class-exclusive trail content from NeoTreks' AccuTerra Maps, Trails Offroad trail guides and FunTreks trail guides. Owners will also be able to map their favorite trails and upload and add them to the existing library. Additionally, owners can update the maps and mark them along the way. Is there a tree down? Mark it.

2021 Ford Bronco Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Getting dirt and mud inside the vehicle is always possible when off-roading. That's especially true on both the Bronco and Wrangler, because owners will be able to remove the roof and doors. Both vehicles offer drain plugs for hosing out the interior.

I reached out to both automakers to see how water affects the precious infotainment systems in each of the vehicles. The Uconnect infotainment system is protected against the elements and is even subjected to a "mist test" to ensure that it can get a little damp and handle an unexpected shower. However, one should not point the hose directly at the infotainment.

A Ford spokesperson said the basically same thing. The surfaces and electronics can handle getting a little wet – again, unexpected rainstorm, for example – but it's not designed to take a hose directly to it.

The Jeep has available accessory switches to power lights, winches and other devices. The Bronco has something similar. Inside, the Bronco takes it a step further by having a mounting bracket on the top of the dash to mount a phone mount, GoPro mount, GPS mount and more. There's even power at the top of the dash so that wires don't need to be dangling throughout the cabin for power.

2021 Ford Bronco Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford said that when they looked at how people off-road, they looked at Polaris RZR riders. The accessory mounting is one idea they adopted from Polaris and incorporated into the Bronco.

When it comes to off-road features, the Bronco's mapping software is far superior to what is offered from Jeep. Both vehicles make it easy to clean with the drain plugs and can handle an oops if you forget to put the roof back on and it rains. Jeep plans for exterior accessories for owners, but the added compatibility inside the truck on the Bronco gives them the edge.

Technology

Both brands offer GPS mapping, satellite radio, and support for Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Jeep's Uconnect infotainment system is available in 7- or 8.4-inch displays and is widely regarded as one of the easiest-to-use systems out there.

On the Bronco, buyers get either an 8- or 12-inch SYNC 4 system with support for wireless Apple Car Play and wireless Android Auto.

Both vehicles offer a variety of advanced safety features, including autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Ford's SYNC system has come a long way in usability, and the idea of not having to plug the phone into the system to use Car Play or Android Auto is appealing. Just toss the phone on the wireless charging pad and go.

Jeep will likely address some of these technological differences in future updates of the Wrangler. Ford has the advantage here simply because the vehicle is newer – the Wrangler has been on sale since 2018.

Engines and Transmissions

The base engine on a Jeep Wrangler is a 3.6-liter V6 mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. It makes 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Upgraded engines include a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel making 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. Those upgraded engines all require selecting an automatic transmission.

A 10-speed automatic or the aforementioned seven-speed manual with crawl gear is available on the 2021 Ford Bronco. The base engine is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder making an expected 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade engine is a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 making 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

2021 Ford Bronco Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Nobody outside of Ford has driven the Bronco yet, but the 2.3-liter and the 10-speed is a good combination in the Ranger, and the 2.7-liter and 10-speed in the F-150 is a personal favorite combination of mine.

But, the diesel in the Wrangler is a superstar. It fits the character of the Wrangler well and delivers an EPA-rated 29 mpg on the highway.

Roof and Doors

The Wrangler's doors are removable, as is the roof. Removing the doors requires three bolts per door and disconnecting a wiring harness. The exterior mirrors are attached to the door on the Wrangler.

The Bronco has removable doors as well, and while I'm not sure about the procedure yet, I do know that the exterior mirrors are attached to the Bronco and not the doors, meaning they're still there with the doors off. It means you can't squeeze into a really tight space with the doors off, but you'll still be able to use the mirrors and blind spot monitoring with the doors removed.

2021 Ford Bronco Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

As an added bonus, the Bronco's doors can be stored in the back of the vehicle (there's even bags for them). This means you don't have to leave them behind at basecamp.

The fabric roof on the Wrangler is easy enough to remove, especially with no zippers. It doesn't provide the best comfort in winter, though. There is an optional power sliding roof that a portion can be removed completely. Most owners opt for the 3-piece hardtop.

The two smaller panels on the hardtop can be stored on-board the Wrangler in the optional storage bag. Removing the big part of the roof is a challenge and requires more than one person and a steady hand.

The Bronco's hardtop is a series of removable panels. While I haven't seen them in use yet, it appears like the process might be easier for owners of the Bronco.

Pricing

A Jeep Wrangler starts at $29,790 including destination. A Ford Bronco starts at $29,995 including destination.

Final Assembly

The Jeep Wrangler has been built in Toledo, Ohio since the vehicle went into production. The Ford Bronco will be built just up the street at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.

2021 Ford Bronco Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Verdict

So who wins? That's the existential question that was supposed to be solved by reading this story. I've driven many Jeep Wranglers – off-road all around the country – and I like the Wrangler a lot. It's on-road manners leave a lot to be desired, but that's expected with a solid front axle and 33-inch all-terrain tires.

The Bronco with 35-inch tires might not be much better, but the independent front suspension should help a little bit. But until I drive it, I can't say for certain.

Surely there'll be a ton of off-road comparison tests as soon as the Bronco hits dealerships. What I do know is I really like what I see with Bronco, and it has the credentials – at least on paper – to be the king of the off-roaders.

We'll just have to wait and see for ourselves.

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