After weeks in various new Broncos and Bronco Sports, I have to say I still don’t get the mad lust people feel for them. A few days ago, I parked this one in town and, as I got out, a passerby—male, middle-aged, reasonably well-dressed—stopped in his tracks and asked, a bit breathlessly, “How long did you have wait for it?”
(Oh, the angst and societal ills wrapped up in this sentence: Microchip shortages, supply-chain breakdowns, labor problems, production delays, the pandemic, war in Europe, inflation, unrequited desires . . .)
Admittedly, in Race Red over black, it’s handsome thing, for a squared-off stone axe. A digital stone axe, of course, with a touchscreen, GPS, Bluetooth, adaptive cruise control, a top-down 360-degree camera, a 4G modem, LED lights and one of the best electronic lane-keeping systems yet. It’s also a surprisingly comfortable stone axe, with a heated steering wheel and seats, automatic climate control, a phone charging pad and—although manually adjustable and only in four ways—outstanding front seats.
The Bronco is a high-tech microtome masquerading as a stone axe. Evidently that’s what we want: Modern comfort and convenience in a cozily retro package. “I’ve still got Granddaddy’s axe. It’s had the handle replaced three times and the head twice, but it’s Grandaddy’s axe!”
But even with all the upgrades, a Bronco (as opposed to a Bronco Sport) is not truly a road vehicle. It rides like the pickup truck it’s based upon and will jitterbug madly across a washboard surface. It’s fairly noisy, too. These 35-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires have a deep, knobby tread that hums at highway speeds. The windows don’t always seat properly into their gaskets either, so wind noise is a possibility. But the worst offender is the tailgate.
Last November, about a two-door Sasquatch I wrote: “The [tailgate] is heavy and awkward and.... I wonder how long before that rear window begins to rattle or let dust in. Surely the company that came up with the F-150’s MultiPro tailgate can do better than this.”
That was a new, low-mileage vehicle; this week’s Bronco (a leftover ’21) has almost 13,000 miles on it and, sure enough, the tailgate and/or rear window squirms and squeaks on rough surfaces. The removable roof panels, on the other hand, do not rattle, squeak or leak.
Otherwise, the standard 300-horsepower 2.3-liter Ecoboost turbo Four, the 10-speed automatic transmission and the G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Terrain) drive-mode system plus the Badlands suspension and locking front and rear differentials offer plenty of performance both on and off pavement. At less than 19 MPG, the highway fuel efficiency is dismal, but Ford will undoubtedly offer a battery-electric “Lightning” Bronco, just as it is an F-150 pickup truck.
The sticker price of this Badlands model, with $11,345 worth of options and $1,495 in destination & delivery fees, is $57,430. Suggested prices range from $30,800 for the Base Bronco to $68,500 for the coming hot-rod Raptor version, but the law of supply and demand is in control here.
From Ford’s consumer website: “Due to high demand, the current model year is no longer available for retail order.” And this: “Due to a combination of high demand and global supply-chain constraints, not all models and trims or features are available to order.”
So it's a free-for-all in the Bronco corral. Stories of outrageous dealer markups are all over the Internet, and speculators are trolling Broncos on various auto-auction websites. Yesterday, a 2021 Bronco Wildtrak with the V-6 engine, 28 miles on the clock and an MSRP of $58,430 sold for $75,000 on BringaTrailer.com. Buyer beware.