November 24, 2020
Is there a new sheriff in town? I’m not the only one asking that question. Ever since Ford- after such a long wait- announced the release of its 2021 Ford Bronco after a 25-year break, many off-road enthusiasts have been anticipating a Cold War between this newcomer and the King of the Off-road, the Jeep Rubicon. We are yet to take the Bronco out for a spin, but with the hard details Ford released, we can see why the air is heated up and the tracks gearing for the battle of the decade.
Off-road adventures have had a huge influence on the SUV industry for decades. People just want to have a utility vehicle that is a high performer on regular roads and a beast on off-road terrains, regardless of potholes, hills, steeps, and slopes. For many years, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon reigned supreme with its exterior beauty, stallion-driven horsepower, and unmatched durability. Its place on the off-road throne is well-deserved. With the new Ford Bronco threatening an automobile coup d’état, we compare these two SUV warriors to see how they fare against each other.
We will take the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and the Bronco Badlands.
When it comes to engines, both off roaders are high performers, depending on where you’re standing. A V-6 or turbocharged inline-four are available for both SUVs but comes as a standard fare for the Rubicon. The Rubicon standard 3.6-liter V6 engine comes power-packed with 285 hp, 260 lb-ft, 8-speed auto, and 6-speed manual engine specifications. You can also take on the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 as well or just go with the 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine. This gives the Rubicon an edge over the Bronco that comes a little short.
The Bronco has the standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost I4 is charged with 270 hp, 310 lb-ft, 10-speed auto, and 8-speed manual gear transmissions. This is supported with the optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6.
- Off-road design
It’s impossible to talk about off-roaders and what make them superior without discussing off-road geometry. This is where we analyse how well a vehicle can manoeuvre and conquer rocky terrains. It deals with the positioning of an obstacle and how it relates to the tires hitting the ground. The 33-inch standard tires of the Rubicon are not bad but falls a little short compared to the Bronco’s Sasquatch 35-inch tires. These extra inches mean larger tires for even more ground clearance.
This slight edge by Bronco is maintained when we consider breakover angles (26.3 deg against the Rubicon’s 22.6 deg). This is due to its shorter wheelbase. And for surviving in water, the Bronco can take a quite deeper plunge (at 33.3 inches) than the Rubicon (at 30 inches). Standard front and rear locks are available for both SUVs, but the differentials of the Bronco can be selected automatically, depending on the selected drive mode.
- Exterior Look and Dimensions
In terms of looks, I doubt Jeep lovers can ever get enough of the iconic Wrangler design. However, the Ford Bronco returns with the 4-door design that many say is a beauty to behold. The exterior dimensions of off-roaders show that the Bronco has a slight length advantage at 190.5 inches over the Rubicon which currently stands at 188.4 inches. This may translate to more interior room, or maybe not. The shorter wheelbase, as earlier mentioned stands at 116.1 inches against the Rubicon which has a wheelbase height of 118.4 inches. This simply means a better breakover angle for the bronco.
- Crawl Ratio
The SUV crawl ratio is such an important factor when talking about off-roading. This is a bit of a complicated process, but it has to do with the multiplications of the torque through the axles as it attempts to hit the ground. A high-torque vehicle is not always great. You may be able to slowly go over obstacles and keep your rig in check, but things may go awry fast. At 84.2:1, the Jeep Rubicon is great, especially when you consider the 295 lb-ft of torque you get on the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. You are sure to have enough pressure and force to keep the tires moving forward.
On the other hand, the Bronco’s seven-speed manual transmission is huge on crawl ratio at 94.7:1. It would take a smaller engine to achieve that much though, but even the 310 lb-ft has so much going on compared to the Rubicon. The 35-inch tires add an extra traction and weight, giving it more push. For more metrics on Jeeps and modifications are available at jeep reviews – Jeep Auto Garage.
There are several other features we may be overlooking, especially navigation, theatre and drive assistance that may further give Ford’s new entry an edge. However, it is still too early to call. And we may not be able to reach a verdict until we take the Bronco out for a spin. One thing is clear though; the Bronco will give the Jeep Rubicon a run for its money.