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2024 Ford Bronco: Your off-road magic carpet

2024 Ford Bronco: Your off-road magic carpet


If you look at the family tree of the sport-utility vehicle (SUV), one of its roots is the military off-roader. The Willys Jeep and the Humvee come to mind – vehicles designed to survive the rough-and-tumble conditions of arid deserts and icy tundras, all while surviving the brutality of war. These two eventually sprouted civilian versions, which include the Jeep Wrangler (still in production today) and dearly departed Hummer H1.

Nowadays, SUVs are extremely popular worldwide, not because they can go off the pavement, but because owners believe that they can. That feeling of invincibility, along with the cavernous space, towering ride height and commanding road presence, is what make these leviathans so popular, even if they never see mud under their fenders.

The latest Ford Bronco is a revival of a well-renowned marque from the American carmaker. After its local launch last month, Ford Philippines took us to the Sacobia River in Pampanga to let us drive it through conditions that the majority of its excited owners will likely never go.

Looks like no other

SUVs may seem a dime a dozen here in the Philippines, especially the seven-seater variety.

But the Bronco truly and easily stands out – the round LED headlights and the huge “BRONCO” lettering that runs along the center tell people that this is no fair-faced ride. Adding to the muscularity of the front end are the small front bumper (to help clear obstacles more easily) and the handles on the hood that look strong enough to lash a tree onto.

The boxy side profile is even more unmistakable, accentuated by the detachable black hardtop and the huge black overfenders. The latter accommodates 35-inch mud-terrain tires wrapped around black, 17-inch alloy wheels.

At the rear, the pert rear bumper, simple LED taillights and the huge spare tire hanging off the tailgate directly contravene the trend of derrieres that are fighting for a spot on sexy magazines. The Bronco is a traditional SUV through and through, sporting a design that will help it last through the decades.

Goes like no other

Inside, the Bronco departs from its more Spartan predecessors by sporting full leather upholstery, climate control and a comprehensive touchscreen infotainment system.

In fact, this big Ford is a much nicer place to sit in than the current-generation Jeep Wrangler – the latter’s upright dashboard and high floor mean a driving position that harkens back to the rise and fall of fascism 80 years ago.

The Bronco also packs a larger punch than its American rival. Under the hood is a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter, twin-cam, 24-valve V6 gasoline engine pumping out 330 horsepower and 555 Newton-meters of torque, which is mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox.

All this seems too much, given that a lot of off-road driving requires very delicate throttle control and car placement. But combined with its all-wheel-drive system, electronic locking differentials and 4.7 final drive ratio, the Bronco had all the tools to easily scale everything from 60-degree uphill climbs to knee-high rivers that would leave most SUVs stuck.

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Other handy off-road features include the 360-degree camera system that helps you negotiate narrow paths with ease, the off-road cruise control system that lets you set the speed you want to go down a steep hill and the Turn Assist system that locks the inner rear wheel to help you negotiate tight maneuvers that would make even Toyota Wigo drivers back up.

But perhaps the finest part of this brawny Bronco is the High Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension system with Bilstein shocks. Even the largest imperfections are smoothed out and the SUV feels planted in sand, mud, water or whatever you drive it through.

Put another way, the Bronco makes rough terrain feel like you’re just going to the grocery store. It gives you real confidence off-road, without sacrificing the finer things of motoring.

King of the SUVs?

These are, of course, things you could dictate verbatim to your friends and family, especially if you plan to keep your Bronco on the pavement.

The off-road capabilities are just the cherry on top of a compelling amalgam of style, power, space and practicality that make its rivals feel like they’re made of floorboards. At P4,998,000, the all-new Ford Bronco is a huge step up from a Suzuki Jimny or the dear, old Toyota FJ Cruiser.

But given that it feels almost as good as a Land Rover Defender in the rough stuff (a remarkable feat in itself), the Blue Oval seems to have hit its mark in its move to penetrate the premium SUV market.