What is the Most Capable Version of the Ford Bronco?
Ford's retro-style Bronco offers serious capability in some configurations.
Which is “the best” Ford Bronco? It all depends on what you want to do. Here’s a primer.
All Bronco SUVs are four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case. Drivers get their choice of a 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine or a 2.7L EcoBoost V6. Both engines can be mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, while the smaller powerplant has the option of a seven-speed manual transmission. The Raptor goes bigger with a 3.0L, twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 and a 10-speed automatic.
Now, don’t confuse the Bronco with the Bronco Sport, either, the “little sibling” of the big Bronco lineup. Though capable, the Bronco Sport is based on the same platform as the Ford Escape, meaning it’s more of a soft-roader than the Bronco, which takes the fight straight to the off-roader that leads the segment: the Jeep Wrangler.
Here’s what sets a few of the Bronco’s best versions apart from the rest.
Ford offers the Sasquatch package on nearly all Bronco trims, so even the base model is capable off the highway. Tick that box and you’ll get front and rear lockers, 35-inch mud terrain tires with 17-inch wheels, a lower crawl ratio, and uniquely tuned Bilstein shocks. Thanks to the tires, ground clearance, approach, departure and breakover angles improve on Bronco examples equipped with the Sasquatch package.
Lower trims don’t get underbody protection and are limited in drive modes. The fun really starts at the upper trims.
Bad to the Bone
With standard front and rear lockers, a 4.7:1 final drive, and the upgraded suspension, the Badlands trim is almost Sasquatch-ready. The 35-inch tires are still available, and drive modes here are Normal, Eco, Slippery, Mud/Ruts, Sand, Rock Crawl, and Baja. The Badlands also has a disconnecting front sway bar for more articulation in the rocks. If you know you’ll be climbing every mountain, the Badlands is the trim for you.
Go Fast Fun
The Wildtrak trim makes the Sasquatch package standard and is only available with the 2.7L engine. The Wildtrak is a beast when equipped with the optional 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks. These shocks help smooth out the whoops, and drivers can carry much more speed than with the standard suspension setup. There is no Rock Crawl mode or disconnecting sway bar on this bad boy, but it can still climb just fine, thanks to the front and rear lockers.
If you live where mud abounds, you’ll want to look at the Bronco Everglades. This trim level includes the Sasquatch package as standard equipment, but adds a heavy-duty front bumper and Warn winch. You’ll also get a nifty snorkel and about 3 inches more water fording capability, a whopping 36.4 inches. If you know you’ll encounter more than a trickle across the trail, the Everglades is the Bronco to look at.
But for those who need the ultimate, it’s all about the Bronco Raptor. The Raptor includes everything in the Sasquatch package, but it ups the tires to a massive 37 inches and goes big with 3.1-inch Fox internal bypass shocks with live valving. The Raptor serves up a ridiculous amount of wheel travel and features more ground clearance and better geometry than any other model. Heck, it even beats the Everglades’ water-fording capabilities.
You get all the drive modes you could want here. The Raptor can rock-crawl like a boss and then hit 70 miles an hour on a whooped-out desert floor. If you want the most capable version of the Ford Bronco, the Raptor is it.