How good is the new Ford Bronco off-road?
The new Ford Bronco is touted by Ford as its most capable SUV ever, but how does it stack up to say the Jeep Wrangler? This is a short and sweet summation of what we think about this subject from a suspension and off-road perspective. We will not be discussing horsepower, torque, or any of the other run of the mill numbers often used to compare vehicles.
Instead we will be writing based off of years of off-road experience with many different vehicle makes and models.
After taking our Bronco to some pretty wild places we've found that it is a much more comfortable vehicle to travel in both on and off road. The independent front suspension coupled with struts on all 4 corners make for a much more pliable and controlled ride than most of the Ford Bronco's competitors. This is because many off-road vehicles either have leaf springs in the rear or a solid axle in the front. Both make for a lot more bouncing and re-settling of the suspension over obstacles. The Bronco seems to "shrug-off" bumps and ruts that others will toss driver and passengers around over at low and high speeds.
While traversing difficult obstacles there are often times that a good amount of flex is needed in the suspension. Flex is something that solid axle vehicles excel at because as one side of the axle goes up, the other naturally gets pushed down. We've all seen photos of Jeeps perched on rocks with the drivers side front tire high on a rock and the passenger side rear doing the same while the other side of each respective axle is doing the opposite. This is flex and it is essential in certain driving scenarios. We were skeptical when we first encountered a situation like this in our Bronco but found with the sway-bar disconnected the Bronco has very respectable flex for an independent front suspension vehicle.
However even with impressive flex the Bronco can not achieve what a solid axle vehicle will while slowly traversing rocks and boulders. This can be partially overcome by approaching obstacles at less of an angle and trying to keep the vehicle as level as possible with the line that the driver chooses. But what the Bronco lacks in flex it more than makes up for when the trail opens up and higher speed driving is possible. Where solid axle vehicles shine with their ability to flex the same principles are a pitfall when absorbing impacts since both sides of the vehicle are effected. Independent front suspension vehicles absorb impacts in a much more isolated fashion because there is nothing but the sway-bar linking them together.
In conclusion the Bronco is a formidable off-roader that will be more than capable enough for the average enthusiast. As driver skill and trail difficulty increases many of these weaknesses can also be mitigated with aftermarket long travel suspension components. We believe that the Bronco's strengths outweigh its weaknesses and it will be our vehicle of choice for the foreseeable future on any trail we tackle.