For those looking for the very best off-roader for the autumn and winter, it’s the question on all of our lips – is the new Ford Bronco better than the Jeep Wrangler? Both cars have won themselves a legion of loyal fans over the years, with both considered excellent choices for those looking for a quality drive. But the latest iteration from Ford has been causing quite the stir, with some experts confident it could dethrone the classic Jeep Wrangler from the top spot and claim off-road supremacy.
Over the years, the Bronco has transformed from an open-air trickster to a two-door SUV and finally something that can rival the Jeep in both two-door and four-door variations. Both vehicles are quite straightforward to maintain, which is a bonus for drivers looking for a fuss-free choice. The Bronco is a little techier, but nothing you can’t fix assuming you can get your hands on a reliable Ford Bronco repair manual, and both cars are robust and resilient models that are designed to last the distance.
But maintenance aside, there are some subtle differences that might just make the new Ford Bronco our new favourite off-road drive.
As great as the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco are off-road, driving them on the street will never be as great an experience as driving a Ford Explorer or a Jeep Grand Cherokee. However, because of the independent front suspension of the Ford Bronco, it is far more comfortable than the Wrangler – pipping it to the post when it comes to on-road driving and getting it off to a flying start.
The Wrangler offers the 3.6-litre Pentastar, a V6 turbo diesel, a turbocharged inline-four, and the now-iconic V8 Hemi. The Pentastar makes 260 lb-ft of torque and 285 hp, while the turbocharged inline-four produces 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The 3-litre V6 turbo diesel on the other hand, is a little less powerful, but nevertheless, it brings a lot more torque to the table, producing 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. Of course, if you are looking for real power, the Hemi is what you want. The 6.4L Hemi churns out 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque – more than enough to tackle pretty much any terrain.
The Ford Bronco, meanwhile, is available with two different engines: a 2.3-litre inline-four EcoBoost producing 350 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.7 litre V6 producing 35 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque – both of which surpass Jeep’s standard offerings.
However, to make things a little more interesting, Jeep has recently added a plug-in hybrid to its line-up, using a 2.0-litre four-cylinder and two electric-motor generators. The rather unusual configuration is good enough for 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, giving even the Hemi V8 a run for its money.
There’s no denying it; when it comes to the range of engines available, the Jeep Wrangler wins by a mile. Still, the Bronco comes with stronger, lighter, and more modern powertrains, despite not offering a diesel option.
Just as you’d expect, both SUVs excel in off-road conditions thanks to the wide range of terrain-tackling equipment they come with. The Ford Bronco, for example, is available with 30-35 inch tyres to tackle all conditions, whether driving in a mountain range or deep in the wilderness. It also has a maximum approach angle of 43.2° with 35-inch tyres and a minimum approach angle of 35.5° with 30-inch ones. However, the Wrangler beats the Bronco in its approach angle, although the difference is only minimal.
Ford Bronco’s dana axles further enable optimum off-road performance, along with Spicer electronic locking differentials and Bilstein off-road suspension. Still, the Wrangler matches the Ford Bronco when it comes to off-road equipment. The most notable is the third-generation optional dana axles and standard locking differentials, although these are only available in the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon models.
In this category, the Ford Bronco comes out on top overall because it has more options for customisation, allowing buyers to select elements of their vehicles to best suit their needs and requirements. This does not apply to the Wrangler, where many options are available only on select trims.
Regardless of which SUV you choose, a wide range of aftermarket off-road-oriented parts are also available if the stock configuration isn’t enough for you. Still, installing certain aftermarket parts can have an impact on other stock components, so in all cases, make sure you have a repair manual with you beforehand.
For instance, installing a lift kit or tougher suspension will generally impact a vehicle’s wheel alignment. Luckily, a Ford Bronco repair manual contains all the information you need to bring that camber back within the recommended threshold – so if you plan to add a couple of off-road mods to your truck, make sure to check eManualOnline’s repair manuals here.
Other features and tech
Even though the Ford Bronco is made to be a durable rock crawling machine, it also excels in comfort. Featuring a hoseable rubber floor, heated front seats, a navigation system users can subscribe to with three months’ trial, pre-collision assist, blind spot monitoring, and Ford co-pilot 360, all of these are part of the mid package (standard on Outer Banks / optional on Big Bend and Black Diamond).
What is standard in the Big Bend and Black Diamond, though, is the 8.0-inch SYNC4 infotainment system. On Big Bend trims and above, there is also an optional 8.0-inch colour LCD instrument panel, while the Outer Banks and Badland trims offer a more luxurious feel by replacing the 8.0-inch screen with a larger 12.0-inch unit.
The Jeep Wrangler comes with a UConnect and an infotainment system that’s only 5-inch as standard, although it can be upgraded to a 7 inch or 8.4-inch unit in the highest-end trims.
Whichever way you look at it, there’s no denying that the new Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler offer one another some stiff competition. While the Ford Bronco is a welcome addition to the off-roader category and the lower priced of the two options, the Jeep Wrangler remains a solid choice. With a long history behind it that has won it a legion of loyal fans along the way, and with trims that just keep getting better, it’s little wonder it’s still one of the most popular SUVs on the market.
Nevertheless, the Ford Bronco is a formidable opponent for the Jeep Wrangler and one well worth considering. Our advice? Take them both for a test drive and see which you like the best.