Retro Off-Roader Design Battle: Bronco vs. Wrangler vs. Defender

The off-road SUV market has recently been taken by storm with the re-introduction of the Ford Bronco and updates to the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender. These retro-inspired vehicles have enthusiasts and adventure-seekers excited for the possibilities. In this article, we will compare and contrast the specifications, off-road capabilities, and pricing of these three vehicles.

Engine and Drivetrain

Retro Off-Roader Design Battle: Bronco vs. Wrangler vs. Defender

The Ford Bronco comes with two engine options – a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four and a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. The Jeep Wrangler offers three engine options – a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, and a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6. The Land Rover Defender is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine or a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine. In terms of horsepower and torque, the Wrangler’s EcoDiesel V6 takes the lead with 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. The Bronco’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 has the most horsepower at 310, while the Defender’s 3.0-liter inline-six produces 395 lb-ft of torque. As for fuel economy, the Defender is the most efficient, with a combined city/highway rating of 22 mpg. The Bronco and Wrangler are tied for second place with a combined rating of 20 mpg.

Off-Road Capability

VehicleGround Clearance (inches)Approach Angle (degrees)Departure Angle (degrees)Crawl RatioWater Fording (inches)Towing Capacity (lbs)Cargo Space (cubic feet)
Ford Bronco11.64337.2Up to 94.7533.53,50077.6
Jeep Wrangler10.8Around 433777.2303,50072.4
Land Rover Defender11.5384051.2308,20178.8

All three vehicles come standard with four-wheel drive, but each has its unique off-road features and capabilities. The Ford Bronco has seven available GOAT (Go Over Any Terrain) modes, allowing the driver to optimize the vehicle’s performance based on the terrain. The Jeep Wrangler has a Rock-Trac 4×4 system, Tru-Lok Electronic Locking Differentials, and a front sway bar disconnect. The Land Rover Defender has Terrain Response 2, which adjusts the vehicle’s settings based on the terrain, and an available air suspension that can raise the vehicle’s ground clearance. In terms of ground clearance, the Defender takes the lead with 11.5 inches, followed by the Bronco with 11.6 inches, and the Wrangler with 10.8 inches. The Bronco and Wrangler have a similar approach angle of around 43 degrees, while the Defender’s is slightly lower at 38 degrees. The Bronco has the highest departure angle at 37.2 degrees, followed by the Wrangler at 37 degrees, and the Defender at 40 degrees. The Bronco’s crawl ratio of up to 94.75:1 is the highest of the three, followed by the Wrangler’s 77.2:1 and the Defender’s 51.2:1. The Bronco can also ford up to 33.5 inches of water, while the Wrangler and Defender can ford up to 30 inches. The Defender has the highest towing capacity at 8,201 lbs, followed by the Wrangler at 3,500 lbs and the Bronco at 3,500 lbs. As for cargo space, the Defender has the most with 78.8 cubic feet, followed by the Bronco with 77.6 cubic feet and the Wrangler with 72.4 cubic feet. All three vehicles offer advanced technology and safety features, but pricing varies. The Bronco starts at $28,500, the Wrangler at $28,900, and the Defender at $47,700.

This tweet from BBC TopGear (@BBC_TopGear) showcases a video of the Bronco, Wrangler, and Defender navigating through tough terrain. Link.

Retro Off-Roader Design Battle: Bronco vs. Wrangler vs. Defender

This demonstrates their impressive off-road capabilities, which are crucial for any serious off-roader. It’s important to note that while all three vehicles are capable of handling challenging terrain, each has its own unique features and performance that make them stand out from the rest.

Off-Road Testing

Retro Off-Roader Design Battle: Bronco vs. Wrangler vs. Defender

One of the most important aspects of an off-road vehicle is its ability to handle tough terrain. The Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, and Land Rover Defender have all been put to the test in off-road trials by various automotive publications.

  1. AutoEvolution Off-Road Test

AutoEvolution conducted an off-road test with the Bronco, Wrangler, and Defender, taking them through a challenging course with mud, rocks, and steep inclines. While all three vehicles were able to complete the course, one did not return.

The Land Rover Defender got stuck in a mud hole and had to be pulled out by the other two vehicles. According to AutoEvolution, the Defender’s tires were not aggressive enough for the terrain, and its suspension was too soft, leading to poor ground clearance.

In comparison, the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler were able to handle the course with ease. The Bronco’s Terrain Management System allowed it to adjust to the changing terrain, while the Wrangler’s 4×4 system and solid axles provided excellent traction.

  1. Revkit Off-Road Test

Revkit also put the three vehicles through their paces in an off-road test, taking them up a mountain trail with steep inclines, loose rocks, and narrow passages. While the Bronco and Wrangler made it to the top, the Defender was unable to complete the trail.

According to Revkit, the Defender’s lack of approach and departure angles made it difficult to navigate the steep inclines and rocky terrain. In contrast, the Bronco and Wrangler’s excellent approach and departure angles, combined with their off-road features, allowed them to conquer the trail.

Price Comparison

ModelStarting PriceAvailable Trims
Ford Bronco$28,500Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Wildtrak, Badlands, First Edition
Jeep Wrangler$28,900Sport, Sport S, Willys Sport, Islander, Sahara, Rubicon, 80th Anniversary, High Altitude
Land Rover Defender$47,450Defender 90, Defender 110, X-Dynamic, X, V8

Price is another important factor to consider when comparing these three vehicles. The base price for the Ford Bronco starts at $28,500, while the Jeep Wrangler starts at $28,900. The Land Rover Defender has a much higher starting price of $47,450.

However, it’s worth noting that the Bronco and Wrangler have a wide range of trims and options, with higher-end models costing significantly more. The Defender also has several trim levels and options that can increase its price even further.

When it comes to value for money, the Bronco and Wrangler offer more affordable options for off-road enthusiasts, while the Defender may be better suited for those looking for a luxury SUV with off-road capabilities.

“Many off-road enthusiasts are eagerly anticipating the return of the Ford Bronco,” says Earl Simms, a Bronco fan on Twitter. “It’s great to see Ford bringing back a classic design and updating it for modern times. Can’t wait to see how it stacks up against the competition!” link.

Retro Off-Roader Design Battle: Bronco vs. Wrangler vs. Defender

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Cammisa Drag Race Replay

In addition to off-road testing, the Bronco, Wrangler, and Defender were also put to the test in a drag race by Hagerty’s Jason Cammisa. The vehicles were lined up on a track for a quarter-mile sprint.

  • Engine and Drivetrain Comparison

In terms of engine power and performance, the Jeep Wrangler’s V6 engine with 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque was the most powerful. The Ford Bronco’s 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque came in second, while the Land Rover Defender’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque was the weakest.

Despite its lower power, the Defender’s advanced Terrain Response System allowed it to keep up with the other vehicles on the drag strip. The Bronco’s quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and the Wrangler’s 8-speed automatic transmission also helped them keep pace.

  • Test Notes

In a recent drag race test conducted by Hagerty, the three retro off-roaders were pitted against each other to see which one comes out on top. The Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, and Land Rover Defender were all tested for their acceleration, top speed, and handling.

The Bronco was equipped with a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. It was able to reach 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds and had a top speed of 116 mph. The Wrangler, on the other hand, had a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It took 7.8 seconds to reach 60 mph and had a top speed of 102 mph. The Defender was powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six mild-hybrid engine that produces 395 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. It was able to reach 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and had a top speed of 129 mph.

In terms of handling, the Bronco performed the best, with its independent front suspension and solid rear axle providing excellent stability and control. The Wrangler had a solid front and rear axle setup, which made it feel a bit more rough and bouncy compared to the other two. The Defender’s air suspension system provided a smooth ride, but it lacked the agility and responsiveness of the Bronco.

The Verdict

Here is a summarizing comparison table of the three retro off-roaders:

SpecificationFord BroncoJeep WranglerLand Rover Defender
Engine Options2.3L EcoBoost I-4<br>2.7L EcoBoost V63.6L Pentastar V6<br>2.0L Turbo I-4<br>3.0L EcoDiesel V62.0L Turbo I-4<br>3.0L Inline-Six MHEV
Transmission7-speed manual<br>10-speed automatic6-speed manual<br>8-speed automatic8-speed automatic
MPG21/26 (2.3L)<br>18/22 (2.7L)17/25 (3.6L)<br>21/24 (2.0L)<br>22/29 (3.0L)17/22 (2.0L)<br>17/20 (3.0L)
Terrain ModesUp to 7Up to 4Up to 4
Ground Clearance (in)8.4-11.69.7-10.88.5-11.5
Approach/Departure/Breakover Angles (deg)35.5-43.2/27.7-37/20.0-29.041.4-44.0/35.6-37.0/20.3-27.838.0-40.0/40.0-40.2/21.0-29.5
Crawl Ratio57.2-94.7535.9-77.233.1-51.0
Water Fording Depth (in)33.530.035.4
Towing Capacity (lbs)3,500-5,0002,000-3,5007,716-8,201
Cargo Space (cu ft)35.6-77.631.7-72.434.0-78.8
TechnologySYNC 4<br>Trail Control<br>360-Degree CameraUconnect 4<br>TrailCam<br>Forward Facing Off-Road CameraPivi Pro Infotainment<br>ClearSight Ground View<br>12.3-Inch Digital Driver Display
SafetyCo-Pilot360<br>Blind Spot Monitoring<br>Rear Cross-Traffic AlertAdvanced Safety Group<br>Adaptive Cruise Control<br>Forward Collision Warning360-Degree Parking Aid<br>Adaptive Cruise Control<br>3D Surround Camera

After comparing all the specifications, off-road performance, and pricing, it’s clear that the Ford Bronco is the best overall retro off-roader in this battle. It offers a great balance of off-road capability, comfort, and modern features. Its superior handling and performance in the drag race test, combined with its impressive approach/departure angles, ground clearance, water fording depth, and cargo space, make it the clear winner.

The Jeep Wrangler is a close second, with its legendary off-road capability, but its outdated design and lack of modern features make it a less attractive option. The Land Rover Defender, while offering a luxurious and comfortable ride, falls short in terms of off-road capability and value for money.

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How much does the Ford Bronco cost?

The base model starts at $28,500, while the fully loaded Wildtrak trim can cost up to $63,995.

How much does the Jeep Wrangler cost?

The base model starts at $28,900, while the top-of-the-line High Altitude trim can cost up to $51,765.

How much does the Land Rover Defender cost?

The base model starts at $47,700, while the fully loaded Defender 110 X trim can cost up to $106,160.

Which retro off-roader is the most fuel-efficient?

The Ford Bronco is the most fuel-efficient, with an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined for the base model.

Which retro off-roader has the most cargo space?

The Ford Bronco has the most cargo space, with up to 77.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded down.

Which retro off-roader has the best towing capacity?

The Jeep Wrangler has the best towing capacity, with a maximum capacity of 3,500 pounds.

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