Retrospective

Now and then: How the 2021 Ford Bronco differs from past Broncos

The Ford Bronco came in a number of body styles over the years. Let's take a look back.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

What's old is new again, but much improved. The long-awaited 2021 Ford Bronco has finally broken cover. Designers and marketers have looked to the first Bronco, born in 1965, and leveraged its history for the design and engineering of the new Bronco family of vehicles.

The new Bronco comes in three versions similar to the originals, but benefits from a treasure-trove of modern-day technologies and innovations, as well as a fully-developed marketing plan that includes hundreds of available after-market accessories for personalization.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Family The 2021 Ford Bronco Family builds on the foundation of decades of off-roading excellence.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The competition

The 2021 Bronco is hard-wired and poised to go to war with its closest rival today--Fiat Chrysler's family of Jeep vehicles and the legions of enthusiasts that Jeep has culled with Mopar accessories, as well as the independent Jeep Jamboree USA program and a collection of other Jeep owner events across the country and beyond. The off-road rivalry is nothing new for the companies, who trace the origins of that battle back to World War II when they competed to build the perfect all-terrain vehicle for troop transport.

Don Frey, Ford Motor Company Vice President, is noted as the brainchild behind two Ford ponies - the first Bronco and the Mustang (along with some help from Lee Iacocca). The boxy, durable two-door with round headlights was constructed of a body-on-frame design with high ground clearance and short front and rear overhangs; it was unveiled in '65 as the first automobile called out specifically as a "Sports-Utility Vehicle".

Exterior styling

The 2021 Bronco follows the same utilitarian form-follows-function design aesthetic as the original, with all panels and glass styled straight and flat, plus it has been penned outside and in using nearly mirror-image styling and legacy cues. The Bronco Sport design inspiration links to the all-new Bronco halo model, borrowing rugged attributes that include a signature encapsulated cartridge grille, round headlamps, clean, flat bodysides, short front and rear overhangs and tough unpainted exterior finishes.

Offered as a '66 model, the first Bronco came in three body styles (the open-air no-frills, two-passenger Roadster; a Sport Utility with pickup bed; and a wagon, with two doors, tailgate, full top and a rear bench seat as an option). The base Roadster was the least expensive starting at $2,194, with optional doors and roof, while the Sport Utility seated two or three riders on a bench seat and had a pickup bed that earned it the moniker "half-cab".

1966 Ford Bronco The 1966 Ford Bronco was available in a variety of body styles, suiting many families' needs.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford's newest Bronco family is made up of classic two-door and first-ever four-door offerings, as well as a Sport. The two- and four-door versions have quick-release stowable roof panels and doors on some models that are paired with matched color and trim combinations, along with available packages and options, 11 color choices, and more than 200 dealer-installable accessories. It starts at $29,995.

The 2021 Bronco Sport comes in one four-door body style and five trims, with four accessory bundles and over 100 factory-backed stand-alone accessories. It's cleverly been crafted to carry two mountain bikes in the rear cargo area—and two cyclists in the front.

Limited-volume First Edition versions of the three models will be available at launch.

Power and prowess

Frey said the original line of Bronco SUVs married the attributes of conventional cars and trucks and would serve the needs of sportsmen and families to use in the woods, on the farm or for civil defense. Advertised as an "off-road vehicle" (ORV), its 92-inch wheelbase and 4WD attributes squared it up against the compact Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout. During its reign, four other generations followed that bumped its footprint into the popular midsized SUV segment.

1966 Ford Bronco two-door The model was made as a vehicle that could go over all types of terrain.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The new #BuiltWild Broncos, are constructed on wheelbases that range from 100.4-inch and 116.1-inch for the classics to 105.1 for the Bronco Sport. They also come with advanced four-wheel-drive technology and Terrain Management Systems with G.O.A.T. Modes (seven different selectable drive programs for varying road conditions, availalbity varies by model).

Two 4x4 systems are offered on all modern Bronco models, a base and an advanced 4x4, plus an impressive assortment of world-class 4WD hardware that provides prowess and no-compromise handling and maneuverability especially where the pavement ends and adventure begins. The two-and four-doors are most like Jeep Wranglers, while the small sibling will compare to Jeep's Compass or Cherokee.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is off-road capable- not just another pretty face.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The original Bronco sported an H-pattern 'three on the tree' manual transmission connected to a 170 CID inline six-cylinder engine with 105 horsepower that was borrowed from the Ford Falcon and modified for off-road duty. A year later, V8 power appeared on the option sheet, first as the 289 and, later, the 302 in 1977. Upgrades in '73 included power steering and an optional three-speed automatic transmission.

1966 Ford Bronco engine The first Bronco engine had just 105 horsepower.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The newest Broncos assert their power using a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 (projected to produce 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque) or a 2.3-liter four-cylinder (tapped to achieve 270 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque). Classics have the option of a seven-speed (6+1) manual transmission or a SelectShift 10-speed automatic transmission. Bronco Sport buyers will find a 2.0-liter EcoBoost (targeted 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque) or a 1.5-liter EcoBoost (rated 181 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque); both engines are shifted with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

In early Broncos, standard 4WD was set up with a Dana 20 transfer case and a Dana 30 front differential that was upgraded to a Dana 44 in 1971, while a Hotchkiss type driveshaft was connected to a 9-inch axle at the Ford's rear end. Up front was a suspension comprised of coil springs and radius arms that provided competitive wheel travel and a tight turning radius. Heavier-duty leaf springs sprung the rear while air assist front springs was an option for owners that wanted added toughness.

The new Bronco's base system utilizes a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case, while the optional advanced system features a two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode for on-demand engagement to select between 2H and 4H. Power is distributed to a Dana 44 AdvanTEK solid rear axle and Dana AdvanTEK independent front differential unit – both with available Spicer Performa-TraK electronic locking differentials for improved traction over tough terrain.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The modern Bronco and Bronco sport are designed as go-anywhere vehicles. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Some Bronco Sport series versions use an advanced 4x4 system with a class-exclusive twin-clutch rear-drive unit set up with a differential lock feature to allow greater off-road performance – similar to a traditional mechanical locking differential. Two- and four-door Bronco models get an independent front suspension with a solid axle design featuring coil springs with five locating links in the rear; long-travel position-sensitive Bilstein dampers with end-stop control valves are available. All Bronco Sport models sit on independent front and rear suspension systems; uniquely tuned front struts with hydraulic rebound stops are used on some series, along with 46-millimeter-diameter monotube rear shocks.

Well-outfitted and equipped

Standard issue, the first trucks stuck to utilitarian roots with equipment, but dealers and a robust initial owner base found the first-gen truck could be outfitted rather nicely - options included bucket seats, along with a tachometer, a CB radio, a power take-off, winch, and post-hole digger. If more off-road capability was desired, a plow, tow bar, and an auxiliary gas tank could be ordered, as well as aftermarket performance parts for the engine, and larger wheels and tires.

1966 Ford Bronco interior The interior of the 1966 Bronco was rather sparsely appointed.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Among the many standout features of the two- and four-door versions of the 2021 Bronco are 35-inch tires, grab handles that are integrated into the modular instrument panel and center console, and MOLLE hooks that are mounted in the seatbacks. Attachment points are built into the instrument panel to mount a bring-your-own-device rack, with 12-volt power connections to mount cameras, navigation units, phones, or other devices like a GoPro. A 12-inch SYNC 4 system brings over-the-air updates and seamlessly integrates to the FordPass Performance app with off-road navigation and displays the available 360-degree camera system projecting off-road spotter views to provide greater visibility for technical driving.

Features on the new Bronco Sport include a class-exclusive liftgate with a flip-glass rear window, LED floodlamps, zippered seatback pockets for additional stowage, and fun and unique items like a built-in bottle opener in the cargo area and a slide-out work table. All Broncos can be had with a variety of washable rubber flooring throughout the cabin and cargo area, easy-to-clean cloth seating surfaces and silicone-sealed control switches. An available storage bin is located below the second-row passenger-side seat to stow wet and muddy gear in Sports; Ford's SYNC 3 system is engaged through an 8-inch touch screen and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; other technology includes Ford+Alexa and SiriusXM satellite radio.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport features a bottle open at the rear.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Downsizing

Ford introduced the Sport option package for the Bronco wagon in 1967, adding chrome exterior trim and wheel-covers and red-painted FORD grille lettering. In 1970, it became a freestanding model rather than an option package. To comply with federal regulations, the SUV was fitted with backup lights and side marker lamps (in 1967 and 1968, respectively).

After struggling with sales, production of the open-body Bronco Roadster ended after the 1968 model year and, in 1972, the Bronco half-cab was cancelled due to low sales. The same year, in line with F-Series trucks, the Ranger trim became the top-of-the-line Bronco, wearing body stripes, model-specific wheel covers, cloth seats, woodgrain door panels, and a carpeted interior. In a 1975 interior revision, the Bronco Sport and Bronco Ranger adapted the two-spoke steering wheel from the F-Series. Highway performance was now added as a laudable attribute.

Designed for the road and beyond

The first-generation Bronco (1966-1977) was redesigned and replaced by a single three-door second-gen '78 model with a removeable hardtop and a rear window that lowered into the door. By now, it had gained popularity with an ever-growing bevy of buyers, as well as 4x4 magazines, and was redesigned for better daily driver performance with two available V8 engines and a bigger, more comfortable cabin with air conditioning and an AM/FM radio.

A third-generation of the Bronco (1980-1986) came with a new logo and an updated six-cylinder engine (the V8 was still available) that brought improved fuel economy and upgrades to its suspension.

1993 Ford Bronco The 1993 Ford Bronco was part of the company's last generation of the model. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Of note, a smaller Bronco II was introduced in March 1983 as a 1984 model and was built from 1984 through 1990, based on the Ranger platform with four V6 engine options and an Eddie Bauer trim package.

The fourth-gen Bronco (1987-1991) was crafted to look and be sized more in line with F-Series pickups, with a variety of modernized features, such as electronic fuel injection, rear anti-lock brakes and, after 1988, two five-speed manual transmissions, and custom trim packages.

The fifth-gen model (1992-1996) replaced the removable roof with a fixed roof. While much was carryover, this generation was the first to feature driver's side airbags, three-point seat belt systems, along with a host of other safety upgrades.

Many of the upgrades made in the fifth generation of the Bronco live on today. The 2021 model is the safest one yet with more airbags and a stronger body structure than previous iterations. It has a variety fo roof options and comes with a long list of cutting edge safety technology.

2021 Ford Bronco The 2021 Ford Bronco is not just off-road capable - it's safe too.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Thirty years after its debut, the last Bronco of the 20th Century rolled off the assembly line in June, 1996, at Michigan's Ford Truck Plant, where the new 2021 Ford Bronco is being built. The original Bronco was an icon that attracted buyers who wanted an adventurous lifestyle and a vehicle with off-road capability. The classic Bronco returns and is made to appeal to hardcore off-road enthusiasts and those who want to be.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Twisted NAS-E California Series is a new all-electric 4x4.

Photo courtesy of Twisted

Earlier this year, a luxury 4x4 retailer in Austin, Texas showed off the Twisted NA-V8, a vehicle based on a classic Defender that comes in five different body styles. Now a limited run of 30 Twisted NAS-E all-electric 4x4 is bowing.

The NAS-E is born of the classic Land Rover Defender 90 body with a soft top and features an electric powertrain, a luxurious interior, and impressive off-roading capability. Each model is compliant with all North American EV Regulations and California CARB regulations.

Twisted NAS-E and NAS-E Plus

Photo courtesy of Twisted

"As the world moves steadily toward mass electrification, the Californian market has been missing a uniquely stylish electric 4x4 option that can stand out at the beach, off-road and at stoplights with a level of exclusivity and prestige that can only come from the timeless British Defender form," said Bruce Riggs, COO, Twisted North America. "With color schemes reflecting the natural beauty of California, a removable soft top shape to fully live the elements, advanced electric powertrain engineering exclusive to Twisted, zero-emission power, practical battery range and luxuriously modern interior touches, the Twisted NAS-E is the ultimate expression of the American coastal lifestyle."

The model is the first hero vehicle of the Twisted Legacy collection. It will be sold in two trim levels: NAS-E and NAS-E Plus. The difference mainly comes down to the power allocation. The NAS-E will be powered by a Remy Borg-Warner motor delivering more than 280 pound-feet of torque and 214 brake horsepower. The NAS-E Plus sees its output upped to 309 pound-feet of torque and 320 brake horsepower.

Twisted NAS-E Malibu Photo courtesy of Twisted

Twisted says that the model has a 200-mile range from its 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack.

The SUVs have custom-valved dampers, six-piston front brakes, four-piston rear brakes, hard-use RS29 brake pads, and a traction control system. Four-wheel drive is standard. There are Sport, Eco, and Off-Road drive modes.

The model will be offered in three color options: Malibu, Yosemite, and Tahoe. They will make up the California Series of the models, a limited time 30-vehicle offering.

Twisted NAS-E Tahoe Photo courtesy of Twisted

The NAS-E comes with a good list of features: cream leather seats featuring Alston Alcantara inserts, a three-seat bench across the front row with detachable headrests, 4x tip ups located in the load area, Twisted Sport Wheels finished in silver, a Twisted Stage One front end, NAS roll cage, Bimini hood, an infotainment system, EV management system touch screen, raptored 'spray down' unique flooring, eight-channel audio system, rearview camera with wideview angle, GPS tracker, immobilizer, and air conditioning.

The NAS-E Plus builds on that to include a NAS brush bar, NAS side steps, roll-bar spotlights, NAS-E body stripe decal, and black side sills.

Twisted offers the model with a comprehensive 24-month/20,000-mile warranty. Extensions are available.

Twisted NAS-E Malibu Photo courtesy of Twisted

The Twisted NAS-E starts at $185,000 while the NAS-E Plus comes in at $210,000. Each has a lead time of approximately nine months and requires a fully refundable deposit to reserve. Limited test drives will be available early October 2020.

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This image of a young child was considered so perverted by some that Audi decided to apologize for it.

Photo courtesy of Audi A

Audi has apologized for an advertisement that shows an image of a young girl eating a banana while she stands in front of an Audi RS 4 Avant.

The apology was issued after outcry from critics on Twitter who pointed to perceived numerous flaws in the ad from the overt sexualization of the child because of the banana involved to the potential danger the child was in because she was standing in front of a parked vehicle that can go up to 174 mph.

In the three-part apology, Audi stated, "We care for children. We hear you and let's get this straight: We care for children. The Audi RS 4 is a family car with more than thirty driver assistance systems including an emergency break system. That's why we showcased it with various family members for the campaign."
The statement continues, “We hoped we could convey these messages, showing that even for the weakest traffic participants it is possible to relaxingly lean on the RS technology. That was a mistake! Audi never intended to hurt anyone's feelings. We sincerely apologize for this insensitive image and ensure that it will not be used in future. We will also immediately examine internally, how this campaign has been created and if control mechanisms failed in this case.“
Some of Audi's Twitter followers said that, in their view, the criticism was likely unwarranted while others chose to concentrate on the fact that the model in the photo features a potent power plant. Others pointed out that they felt that the image was pro-pedophilia writing, in German, “I see a pedophile ad here. And child abuse. Disgusting and reprehensible.“

Though this is the first advertising slip up this year for the Audi brand, it's the second major ad folly for Volkswagen Group, Audi's parent company. In May, the company became embroiled in a controversy surrounding an advertisement that features a dark-skinned man being maneuvered around by the hands of a white woman. As the ad developed, the dark-skinned man ended up being flicked away from a yellow Volkswagen Golf, all while upbeat music played in the background.

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