2021 Ford Bronco vs. 2021 Jeep Wrangler: Compare SUVs






The return of the 2021 Ford Bronco after a quarter-century means one thing: Jeep is in trouble. Benchmarks need to be challenged, and icons deserve to be dared. Measuring the monumental return of a classic versus a living, rock-crawling legend favors the road-friendliest in our TCC Ratings. 

The 2021 Ford Bronco charges hard at the Jeep Wrangler, and in on-road manners and off-road technology, it eclipses the venerable Wrangler with a TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10, compared to the 2021 Jeep Wrangler’s 5.4. But the Wrangler has nearly 80 years of development and loyalty, factoring in the CJ civilian jeeps that rumbled over American shores after WWII. 

In a nod to that time when Ford stamped its bolts with an “F” to differentiate its jeeps from Willys’, Ford has stamped “Bronco” on all visible bolts on the 2021 Bronco. There’s no mistaking the bolts or the SUVs now, despite their shared two-door or four-door body-on frame construction with hardtop and soft-top convertible options.

For now, Jeep has Ford beat with the hardtops, which are delayed until 2022 except for the gray ones. Each vehicle’s doors come with two removable bolts and an electric connection, and they can be stored in the rear cargo area. The Wrangler’s doors weigh 47 pounds and 34 lb in back, compared to 55-lb fronts, 44-lb rears on the Bronco. Hand holds and durable storage bags ease the load and one person can handle it. That’s not the case with a Wrangler hardtop, which requires at least one other person or a pulley system to remove the rear. The Bronco’s roof breaks down into four components easily removed and stowed by one person. Jeep has a power retractable cloth top, but the Bronco lacks a crossmember overhead between the front and second row, so it’s wide open roading. The convertible question is a draw. 

2021 Ford Bronco

2021 Ford Bronco

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

So are the looks. The Wrangler, iconically, unquestionably, irrevocably, is a Jeep: seven-slot grille, round headlights, upright two-box body and all. Nothing says icon more clearly than the Wrangler’s face. The Bronco honors its past with a broad, flat grille and a brick-like profile that looks like a bulldog riding on available 17-inch wheels studded with 35-inch Mud Terrain tires pushed to the corners. 

The interiors reflect the exteriors, with the Bronco flexing an available 12.0-inch touchscreen flanked by tall boxy vents and a horizontal dash stamped with Bronco. The Wrangler wears its hard rubber better, with dials, switches, and knobs that feel more durable, and a mechanical parking brake that eats up console space but carries out that rugged vibe. 

The 2021 Ford Bronco eclipses the benchmark it’s pursuing. The two-door Bronco is six inches longer than the Wrangler, but the four-door is only an inch longer at 189.4 inches. Wider and longer, the Bronco benefits from 4.0 cubic feet more of space and more passenger volume with the soft top. The Wrangler’s seats lean to the stiffer side of supportive, but the Bronco’s seat cushions feel shorter. Cloth comes standard on both as do carpeted floors, but Ford equips the Bronco with power seats and windows from the start. 

2021 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

2021 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco

Better technology and a slightly roomier interior give the Bronco an edge over the Wrangler that is extended by the Bronco’s superior on-road manners. A double-wishbone front suspension with HOSS heavy-duty dampers and electric-assist rack-and-pinion steering steady the Bronco on the highway. The suspension and seven-mode drive setting allows for plenty of wheel travel off-road that lessens the advantage of the Wrangler’s live front axle and recirculating ball steering. Both models have a solid rear axle, a choice of standard four-wheel-drive systems, two-speed transfer cases, and the ability to climb most anywhere right out of the factory.

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

2021 Jeep Wrangler Sport S Unlimited 4×4 Temperature Controls

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

The Bronco gets the edge on pavement, it’s a toss up off-road, but the Wrangler comes with more powertrain choices that veer from the efficient to the absurd. Jeep sniffed some of that Dodge glue and dropped a 6.4-liter V-8 that makes 470 hp and 470 lb-ft in the Wrangler Rubicon 392. It’s awesome and absurd to drive such a top-heavy vehicle with a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. On the other end of the spectrum, Jeep offers a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the 4xe that makes the same torque as the 392 and has 22 miles of electric range. It’s the fuel efficiency champ, with an equivalent of 49 mpg that more than doubles the EPA rating of the most efficient Bronco. Jeep also offers a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, a 270-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4, and a volume 285-hp 3.6-liter V-6 with either a standard 6-speed manual or seamless 8-speed automatic transmission.

2021 Ford Bronco

2021 Ford Bronco

2021 Ford Bronco

2021 Ford Bronco

Ford employs its 2.3-liter turbo-4 to the tune of 275 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque with 87 octane; output improves with premium gas. It pairs with a 7-speed manual transmission that’s a 6-speed with a low crawler gear. An available 10-speed automatic used in the F-150 can be had with the 2.3-liter, or can be paired with the F-150’s 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6. It makes 315 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque with quick acceleration and a lightness to the Bronco’s 4,500-pound average weight. 

Choice favors the Jeep, but there’s no shortage of trim combinations, available packages, and factory-installed accessories on either model. In either base or higher trim levels, however, the Bronco comes standard with key features such as automatic emergency braking and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility. The base Jeep doesn’t have any of that, or power windows or air conditioning. Since they both start just below $30,000, the 2021 Ford Bronco dusts the Jeep Wrangler on modern amenities. 

It took more than 25 years, but the Bronco knocked the Wrangler off its perch for now, where it has ruled unquestioned for so long. But Wranglers don’t stay down for long.

Summary

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Performance

Comfort & Quality

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Fuel Economy – Combined City and Highway

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