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Off-Road Spec Sheet Shootout: Ford Bronco vs. Jeep Wrangler

Bronco comes packing, but Wrangler isn’t giving up its spurs in this virtual head-to-head.

We haven't driven the Bronco yet, so we thought we'd have a little fun with spec charts to see how the Bronco and Wrangler stack up against each other on paper. To keep things fair, we'll look at both the two-door and the four-door version of the 2021 Ford Bronco with the Sasquatch package and 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Rubicon Unlimited models.

Available on all models, the Bronco's Sasquatch option is a comprehensive equipment group that adds aggressive 35-inch (315/70R17) Goodyear Territory tires, front and rear lockers, the High-performance Off-road Stability Suspension (H.O.S.S.) system, and 17-inch bead-lock-capable forged aluminum wheels. It is worth noting that Sasquatch-equipped Broncos do see a small decrease in up-travel for packaging reasons. An electro-hydraulic sway bar is option on high capability models.

Unlike the Sasquatch package that can be added to any trim, the Rubicon is a model within Jeep's lineup. The Rubicon adds 33-inch tires, a 4:1 transfer case, monotube shocks, electronically disconnecting sway bar, and front and rear lockers.

Each of these enthusiast vehicles are aimed at people who are looking for an adventure away from the road and out on the trail. Categories were chosen based on parity between the two manufacturers' published specifications. Let's drill down in an unscientific look at which vehicle owns the virtual dirt road.

 

Angles

Ford is claiming best-in-class breakover angle and departure angles, but Jeep wins on the arguably more important approach angle. It's also worth noting that the Bronco's rear departure angle advantage is a meaningless 2/10 of a degree, well within the margin of error for tire pressure or load. Ford's larger tires give it a clearer advantage in breakover.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
Approach (deg. ) 43.2 43.2 44 43.9
Breakover (deg. ) 29.0 26.3 27.8 22.6
Departure (deg. ) 37.2 37 37 37

 

Two-door Winner: Tie
Four-door Winner: Tie

 

Engines

So, this is a tough one. Although the Bronco offers two extremely competent and powerful turbocharged engines, the 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder with a rating of 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque and the 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, the Wrangler has more engine options. That ranges from the 2.0L turbo four with 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and the normally aspirated 3.6L Pentastar V-6 with 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, to the sole diesel option in the class, the turbocharged 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 with 260 horsepower segment-leading 442 lb-ft of torque. Jeep also offers a mild eTorque V-6 in the Sahara and has their line of plug-in 4xe drivetrains coming soon. Although the Bronco's gas offerings are better on paper, they don't have an answer to Jeep's diesel.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
2.0L Turbo Gas I4 X X
2.3L Turbo Gas I4 X X
2.7L Turbo Gas V-6 X X
3.0L Turbo Diesel V-6 X
3.6L Gas V-6 X X

 

Two-door Winner: Tie
Four-door Winner: Wrangler

 

Gearing

Ford claims a best-in-class crawl ratio of 94.7:1, but it only exists on 2.3L manual-equipped Broncos with the premium electromechanical 3.06:1 transfer case and this setup is not offered on the Sasquatch package. When you consider Ford's deepest setup with an automatic and 35s, that crawl ratio drops to 67.8:1. Jeep on the other hand, thanks to a 4:1 transfer case on the Rubicon, has a max crawl ratio of 84.2:1 on the manual-equipped 3.6L V-6. Looking at automatic-equipped Wranglers, the max crawl ratio becomes a Bronco-busting 77.2:1. Even the EcoDiesel-equipped JL with slightly taller gearing has a crawl ratio of 70.3:1. Since were are only looking at the Bronco Sasquatch package for this exercise, and it is not available with the manual, this category easily goes to the brand that offers their lowest crawl ratio and largest tire size in the same vehicle.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
Manual Crawl Ratio 94.75:1 (N/A w/35s) 94.75:1 (N/A w/35s) 84.2:1 84.2:1
Auto. Crawl Ratio 67.8:1 67.8:1 77.2:1 77.2:1

 

Two-door Winner: Wrangler
Four-door Winner: Wrangler

 

Ground Clearance

Jeep lists the Wrangler Rubicon's ground clearance at 10.8 inches on 33-inch tires. Considering the rear axles appear to be the same M220 Dana AdvanTEK on both vehicles, it is no surprise that 35-inch-equipped Broncos get the nod at 11.6 inches on the two-door and 11.5 inches on the four-door.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
Ground Clearance (in. ) 11.6 11.5 10.8 10.8

 

Two-door Winner: Bronco
Four-door Winner: Bronco

 

Payload

With the explosion in popularity of overlanding, payload has become an increasingly important metric for enthusiast. Buyers are realizing that they need to be able load their rig of choice up for the weekend without having to choose between their friends and their gear. Here is another spec where the vehicles are so close to each other that the difference is inconsequential.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
Payload (lbs. ) 1,170 1,370 1,190 1,351

 

Two-door Winner: Tie
Four-door Winner: Tie

 

Suspension

So which suspension is better? The Wrangler uses a tried and true solid axle setup with coil springs and monotube shocks on the Rubicon. Bronco counters with a tough independent front suspension and solid rear axle with coilovers, as well as the optional High-performance Off-road Stability Suspension (H.O.S.S.) system that includes monotube Bilstein reservoir shocks with end-stop control valves at each corner.

Both vehicles can be had with disconnecting sway bars, though the Bronco bar can be engaged and disengaged even when the suspension is articulated. We'll save the IFS vs. solid axle debate for another story, but one could argue that the Bronco's 17 percent improvement in front wheel travel and 10 percent improvement in rear wheel travel over the Wrangler—and better factory shock offerings—makes the Bronco a clear winner. However, there are die-hard solid axle guys out there who appreciate the toughness and simplicity. It also depends on what type of terrain and wheeling you enjoy doing; with so many variables and no seat time yet, we aren't touching this one.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
IFS X X
Solid Front Axle X X
Solid Rear Axle X X X X
Monotube Shocks X X
Monotube Reservoir Shocks X X
Coil Springs X X X X

 

Two-door Winner: Tie
Four-door Winner: Tie

 

Technology for The Trail

The Bronco is packed full of technology Ford calls the Trail Toolbox. This suite of features is aimed at making the off-road experience more approachable for the average customer. Consisting of Trail Control (think off-road cruise control), Trail Turn Assist (drags the Bronco's inside rear brake to shorten the turning radius), and Trail One-Pedal Drive (operates like an electric vehicle so novice wheelers only need to concentrate on the accelerator in tricky terrain), the Bronco should be as sure-footed as its namesake. The Bronco also gets G.O.A.T. mode with up to eight settings that include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Baja, Mud/Ruts, and Rock Crawl. With a simple turn of the dial, G.O.A.T. mode will automatically configure the vehicle for the terrain the driver wants to traverse. Thankfully, the driver still can override things like sway bar, traction control, and lockers. Lastly, Ford partnered with Neo Treks, Trail Offroad, and FunTreks to preload the Bronco with over 250,000 trails—more than 1,000 of them curated—and an advanced topographical base map. These maps work offline and work with either the 8-inch or 12-inch navigational capable SYNC systems. With the navigation app, owners will be able to plan, navigate, and share their adventures with friends. Some will debate the need and merit of tech and probably call it gimmicky, but until we use it, we'll give the benefit of the doubt to Ford. Jeep definitely has some catching up to do in this area.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
G.O.AT. Modes X X
Trail Maps X X
Trail Control X X
Trail Turn Assist X X
Trail One-Pedal Drive X X
Trail Turn Assist X X
360-degree Cameras X X
Hill Decent Control X X X X
Hill Start Assist X X
Brake Traction Control X X X X
Off Road Screen X X X X

 

Two-door Winner: Bronco
Four-door Winner: Bronco

 

Tire Size

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is equipped with 285/70R17 BF Goodrich or Falken tires, which work out to be about 33 inches. The Ford Bronco on the other hand rocks aggressively sized 315/70R17, or 35-inch, Goodyear tires. This one is easy.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
285/70R17 (33-in) X X
315/70R17 (35-in) X X

 

Two-door Winner: Bronco
Four-door Winner: Bronco

 

Towing

None of the vehicles are designed to be tow champs, but they do have enough towing capacity built in to pull a small teardrop or overland trailer, or a couple of jet skis to the lake for a weekend. Both vehicles offer four- and seven-pin trailer wiring and have the added benefit of Trailer Sway Control baked into their standard stability programs.

 

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
Towing (lbs. ) 3,500 3,500 2,000 3,500

 

Two-door Winner: Bronco
Four-door Winner: Tie

 

Visibility

Without having sat in the new Bronco yet, it's hard to judge which vehicle will offer better outward visibility. With the doors in, tops on, the seemingly taller glass and lower beltline, along with a tapered hood, would have us giving our nod to the Jeep. However, the Bronco has those cool "Trail Sights" at the leading edge of the hood and an available 360-degree camera system with a spotter's mode. With the doors off, Bronco still has those massive mirrors attached, and unlike the Wrangler, the windshield doesn't fold down out of the way. Until we know more from the driver's seat, we are calling this one a draw.

Two-door Winner: Tie
Four-door Winner: Tie

 

Water Fording

Water Fording isn't important to most buyers until it is. Although you might not be attempting river crossings while traversing a distant continent on a daily basis, you still never know when water fording is going to suddenly become a top priority. Whether you are prowling the desert in a downpour or find yourself negotiating flooded intersections during a particularly stormy commute home, water fording ability could be the thing that makes or breaks your trip.

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
Water Fording (in. ) 34 34 30 30

 

Two-door Winner: Bronco
Four-door Winner: Bronco

 

Wheelbase

The two-door Bronco is 6.9 inches longer than the 166-inch-long two-door Wrangler and rides on 3.6-inch longer wheelbase (100.4 inches). The four-door is an inch longer than the 188.4-inch Wrangler Unlimited, but with a shorter 2.3-inch wheelbase (116.1 inches on Bronco). So, which is better? We'd err on the side of longer wheelbase for increased stability.

Bronco 2-dr Bronco 4-dr Wrangler Wrangler Unlimited
Wheelbase (in. ) 100.4 116.4 96.8 118.4

 

Two-door Winner: Bronco
Four-door Winner: Wrangler

There it is: our informed and virtual take on Bronco vs. Wrangler, straight from the spec sheets. The Bronco takes more categories on paper, but nothing beats a real hands-on, head-to-head, evaluation. As soon as we can get a new 2021 Bronco in the stable to pit against a comparable Wrangler (can you say Four Wheeler SUV of the Year?) you can be sure we'll put both vehicles through their paces in as many different on- and off-road scenarios as possible. The Bronco will hit dealerships in spring 2021, with reservations currently being accepted at ford.com.

To learn more, check out this comprehensive first look on the new Bronco HERE.