What to Buy When You Can't Get Your Hands on a 2022 Ford Bronco
These days, the best off-roader is one you can get your hands on. Instead of waiting months for a 2022 Ford Bronco, consider these capable and rugged rides.
It would be an understatement to say that the new Ford Bronco was one of the most anticipated vehicles of 2021. Demand for the four-wheel drive off-road warrior has been through the roof ever since the Bronco was first revealed in 2020 in two-door, four-passenger and four-door, five passenger body styles. Production started in mid-2021, but anyone looking to buy or lease the popular midsize SUV faces a long wait. The chip shortage and quality issues have slowed down the Bronco’s launch, and Ford is still catching up with a backlog of pre-orders.
Whether you’re an early reservation holder tired of waiting for your Bronco or you’ve recently decided to get in line, there are several ways to fill that Bronco-sized hole in your life on the new and used vehicle market right now. Here are a few suggestions:
2018-2022 Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler is the direct rival for the Ford Bronco and is available in many configurations to accommodate almost any kind of buyer. Whether you’re after a two-door or four-door mid-size SUV, the Wrangler will meet your demands. It’s available with a naturally aspirated V6 or a thirstier Hemi V8, though some shoppers may be in the mood for a more fuel-efficient ride. The turbocharged four-cylinder or turbo-diesel six-cylinder Wrangler will surely help you save at the pump, and a new gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid model even allows for 21 miles of all-electric driving without using a drop of fuel.
Before the Bronco came along, the four-wheel drive (4WD) Wrangler was the off-roading benchmark—thanks to a packed utility belt of optional gadgets, including a low-range transfer case, stout Dana 44 axles, front and rear locking differentials, and massive all-terrain tires. Furthermore, according to automotive research firm iSeeCars, Wrangler buyers will enjoy high resale values. If you still have your heart set on a Bronco, you can turn the Jeep around without a significant hit once the Ford becomes available.
2021 Land Rover Defender
If you love the high-tech off-roading goodies of the Bronco, then the new Land Rover Defender will surely impress. The boxy British mid-size SUV comes in a two-door 90 model or a four-door 110 model. Both feature a full-time 4WD system, including a two-speed transfer case to tackle grueling off-road conditions. The Defender also features automatic locking center and rear differentials with a limited-slip function for better power delivery. The Defender doesn’t offer a locking front differential, but it can be equipped with air springs that raise the body to conquer tall obstacles or wade through water up to 35.4 inches deep.
Be aware, though, that the Land Rover has a lackluster reputation when it comes to reliability, landing dead last in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study with 244 problems per 100 vehicles (double the SUV segment’s 122 problems per 100 vehicles). Shoppers should keep that in mind if they’re considering a Defender for long-term ownership.
2019-2022 Toyota 4Runner
Toyota’s 4Runner mid-size SUV is less high-tech than the Defender but every bit as delightfully rugged. Some models, especially the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims, are outfitted with the right gear to tackle the most demanding trails. For example, the Off-Road model features four-wheel drive instead of standard rear-wheel drive and a locking rear differential, multiple traction modes, a low-speed off-road cruise control system, and hill descent control. The TRD Pro model, which debuted in 2019, takes ride quality a step further with a Fox suspension system and under body skid plates for protection. The 4Runner also features the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which increases wheel articulation to help conquer uneven terrain.
While it may not be as fancy or fresh as a Bronco, the five or seven passenger Toyota SUV has a fantastic reputation for reliability. The automaker was rated fourth overall in the latest J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study. Additionally, the 4Runner was ranked tenth overall by iSeeCars for the lowest average five-year depreciation, giving it a lower overall cost of ownership than some of the other vehicles on this list. The only significant downside to the Toyota 4Runner is that it isn’t very fuel-friendly, with a thirsty V6 engine returning an eye-watering 17 mpg combined city/highway fuel-economy estimate.
2006-2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser
With the ongoing chip shortage, it may be tough to find the new vehicle you want right now. One option on used car lots is the Toyota FJ Cruiser mid-size SUV, which has been on sale for the 2007 to 2014 model years. The five-passenger FJ channels the spirit of the iconic Toyota Land Cruiser, which carries through to its utilitarian interior. The FJ was designed to tackle the trail straight from the factory. Automatic-transmission models feature a part-time 4WD system with an available rear locking differential, while manual models use full-time 4WD with a limited-slip center differential, a locking rear differential, and a two-speed transfer case.
Like other Toyota trucks, the FJ Cruiser has a strong reputation for reliability. It was awarded Top Compact SUV honors from the 2014 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study. It also holds its resale value, winning the 2014 ALG Residual Value Awards for best Off-Road Utility Vehicle.
2010-2021 Ford F-150 Raptor
If you want to stay in the Ford family with your next off-roader, then there are plenty of Ford F-150 Raptors waiting for you out in the used market. The 4WD Raptor was engineered for high-speed desert running, dune jumping thrills with the convenience of a full-size pickup truck bed to haul stuff around when the real world kicks in.
Older models use V8s and newer models pack a turbocharged V6. Either way, you can expect ample power and performance from the five passenger F-150 Raptor. Some even peg the Raptor as a future classic. Low mileage and tastefully modified examples command surprisingly high prices. While that means you might have to pay a premium for the Raptor you want, it also means that your truck should hold its value over time.