Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco

Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco

Last Updated August 5, 2020 | Meghan Drummond
Contents

The Jeep Wrangler has been the undisputed ruler of the off-road space for many years. But it’s about to face a true competitor in Ford’s new Bronco.

Far from being a copycat, the Bronco brings a new set of features that raise the bar for off-roading. Both the Wrangler and Bronco are worthy off-roaders. Which is right for you will boil down to what you need in an off-road vehicle.

Exterior Comparison

Both the Wrangler and Bronco will be available in two-door and four-door models. While the two-door models have better off-roading specs, the four-door models allow for more passengers to travel in comfort.

Top image of a light blue Bronco with doors off, bottom image of a lime green Jeep

In addition to passenger space, four-door models have more storage and a better on-road ride. This is especially important since many use their off-road vehicle as a daily driver. Due to their longer wheelbase, four-door models have slightly worse performance off-road.

The Bronco is also slightly larger than the Wrangler across all dimensions. This is necessary because of the additional storage needed for the doors and roof.

Wrangler vs Bronco Exterior Dimensions
Dimension2-Door Bronco2-Door Wrangler4-Door Bronco4-Door Wrangler
Length 173.7 Inches 166.8 Inches 189.4 Inches 188.4 Inches
Width 75.9 Inches 73.9 Inches 75.9 Inches 73.9 Inches
Height 71.9 Inches 73.6 Inches 73 Inches 73.6 Inches
Wheelbase 100.4 Inches 96.8 Inches 116.1 Inches 118.4 Inches

Spare Tire and Gates

A full-size spare tire fits neatly on the rear of the Bronco and the Wrangler, and both have swing-out gates. There are some differences here though. The Bronco’s fifth-door is higher than the Jeep’s. This puts it at the perfect height for serving as a workstation. You can also option the Bronco with a pull-out tailgate table. This should make camping and tailgating considerably easier.

Removable Roof and Doors

The Bronco has copied, and improved on, some of the Wrangler’s best features. Among them is the ability to remove its doors and roof. Where the Bronco differs is that most of its removed parts (doors and roof panels) can be stored in the back. If you get the base hard top then the third roof panel will not fit in the back. A premium upgrade is available that will split the third roof panel into two, for a total of four roof panels.

While the Wrangler’s open air capability is wonderful, it lacks flexibility. Not only are the doors hard to remove on the go, but they also can’t be stored inside the Wrangler. In the event of bad weather, a topless Wrangler will result in a drenched passenger. A Bronco owner can easily reattach their top and doors on the go for a dry driving experience.

When the doors are removed, the Bronco’s sideview mirrors stay in place. Since they’re mounted to the A-pillars, you don’t have to pick between visibility and the open air. This is different from the Jeep’s mirrors, which are attached to the doors. There are some aftermarket kits that will change the Jeep’s mirror location, but it’s not standard.

Like the Wrangler, the Bronco will be available with both a hard top and a soft top.

Trims and Features

There are some major differences between the Wrangler and Bronco exteriors. Even on the base model, the Bronco comes equipped with LED headlights, while the base Wranglers instead have halogen lights.

The trim packages are also a major difference. The JL Jeep Wrangler has an abundance of trim packages. The top-of-the-line, and the best for off-roading, is the Wrangler Rubicon.

The Bronco also has several trim packages, each with its own unique features. However, the Bronco really excels by offering its best off-roading features in the “Sasquatch” package. This separate package can be added to any trim level, which gives buyers lots of flexibility on price.

JL Wrangler Trim Details

Bronco Trim Details

Interior Differences

The Wrangler falls way behind when we compare its interior to the Bronco’s. The inside of the Bronco is full of thoughtful features like waterproof fabric and conveniently placed grab handles. Despite the Bronco’s larger exterior dimensions, the two are similar in terms of interior dimensions.

Wrangler vs Bronco Interior Dimensions
Dimension2-Door Bronco2-Door Wrangler4-Door Bronco4-Door Wrangler
Front Headroom 41 Inches 42.6 Inches Hard Top: 40.8 Inches
Soft Top: 43.3 Inches
42.6 Inches
Front Legroom 43.1 Inches 41.2 Inches 43.1 Inches 41.2 Inches
Rear Headroom 39.8 Inches 41.7 Inches Hard Top: 40.1 Inches
Soft Top: 41.1 Inches
41.7 Inches
Rear Legroom 36.3 Inches 35.7 Inches 36.3 Inches 38.3 Inches

Technology

Where the Bronco really stands out is its standard SYNC 4infotainment system. Ford prioritized the “info” part of infotainment to make this a legitimate off-road feature. The Bronco’s system has an 8” standard screen, with a 12” available. If you opt to get the “High Package” you’ll also get a 360-degree camera, perfect for spotting obstacles while off-roading. The FordPass system will download trail maps and allow you to capture and share your adventures digitally.

The Wrangler’s system is a Uconnect. The Sahara and Rubicon trims both get the Uconnect 4, which allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All others come standard with Uconnect 3 which does not have these features (though you can upgrade for it). The largest screen available is an 8.4” though most Jeeps come with a 5-inch screen. Although the Gladiator has an optional trail cam, that feature has not yet been added as a Wrangler option.

Top image shows a large infotainment screen for Bronco, bottom image shows significantly smaller one and old fashioned dials for the Wrangler

Base Model Features

It’s really on the base trims that the differences between the Wrangler and the Bronco feel the most stark. Those who purchase a Wrangler Sport have manual windows. They also have to pay extra for air conditioning.

Not only does the Base Bronco have power windows and AC, but it also has keyless entry and many other features reserved for “premium” Wrangler trims. It also means that the miniscule price difference between the two vehicles favors the Bronco.

Engine and Transmission Specs

Until the Bronco actually comes out, most of the values attributed to its engines are presumed. Likewise, our understanding of the Bronco’s overall performance is based on stated equipment and performance specs. When it comes to engines and transmission options, the Wrangler and Bronco appear to be evenly matched.

Engines

Everyone was hoping to see a V8 in the 2021 Bronco. As of late 2020, neither the Wrangler nor the Bronco has a V8. But either has more than enough horsepower and low-end torque to get you up to speed on the highway and help you successfully send your next off-roading route.

The current trend in serious off-roaders is to top out at a V6, since low-end torque is more important than horsepower for off-roading. Many off-roaders don’t have V8 engines because they’re heavy, which can disrupt the front-rear weight balance.

Wrangler and Bronco Standard Engine Comparison
EngineHorsepowerTorqueNotes
Pentastar 3.6L V6 285 hp @ 6,400 RPM 260 lb-ft @ 4,800 RPM Jeep’s baseline engine
2.3L EcoBoost I4 270 hp (Estimated) 310 lb-ft (Estimated> Bronco’s baseline engine

Optional Engines

The Wrangler started with one optional engine, and recently added a second. The EcoDiesel 3.0L was new for 2020. The Bronco will debut with two engines. Though the 2.7L EcoBoost is an optional upgrade for most trims, it is standard on First Edition, Wildtrak, and Badlands trims.

Bronco and Wrangler Optional Engines
EngineHorsepowerTorqueNotes
2.7L EcoBoost V6 310 hp (Estimated) 400 lb-ft (Estimated) Bronco’s optional upgrade
Standard on top three trim levels
Turbo 2.0L I4 270 hp @ 5,250 RPM 295 lb-ft @ 3,000 RPM Optional Wrangler engine
3.0L EcoDiesel 260 hp @ 3,600 RPM 442 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM Optional Wrangler engine

Transmissions

The Ford Bronco comes with a standard seven-speed manual on most of its lower level trims. Any Bronco can opt to get a ten-speed automatic instead, but it does come standard on several trims.

Wranglers also have a manual transmission, and it’s also only available with their base engine. The Wrangler’s manual is a six-speed, and the automatic is an eight-speed.

Wrangler and Bronco Transmission Gear Ratios
GearJeep’s 6-Speed ManualJeep’s 8-Speed AutomaticBronco’s 7-Speed ManualBronco’s 10-Speed Automatic
First Gear 5.13 4.71 4.28 4.71
Second Gear 2.63 3.13 2.36 2.99
Third Gear 1.53 2.10 1.45 2.15
Fourth Gear 1.00 1.67 1.00 1.77
Fifth Gear 0.81 1.28 0.78 1.52
Sixth Gear 0.72 1.00 0.65 1.28
Seventh Gear N/A 0.84 6.58 (Crawler Gear) 1.00
Eighth Gear N/A 0.67 N/A 0.85
Ninth Gear N/A N/A N/A 0.69
Tenth Gear N/A N/A N/A 0.64
Reverse 4.49 3.53 5.63 4.89

Off-Road Performance Comparison

Off-road performance is challenging to measure. The specifications most relevant to you depend on your terrain choices and needs. If your primary goal is rock crawling, you may not care as much about speed.

The Wrangler and Bronco come equipped with a lot of off-roading features. Both can be further improved through trims, packages, and aftermarket modifications.

A red Bronco creates spray as it drives through the ocean

Suspension

The suspension is one area where there are massive differences between the Wrangler and the Bronco. While both vehicles have live rear axles, the Bronco has an independent front suspension.

The differences between IFS and live axles are numerous. Solid front axles are seen as desirable by purists, but the Bronco won’t be the first IFS off-roader. Plenty of vehicles with IFS have established their off-roading credentials. IFS is currently used in most of the ½ ton trucks, and almost all SUVS, including every Jeep other than the Wrangler and Gladiator. Even the Gladiator Mojave uses IFS to give it the capability it needs for desert-running.

While the solid axle continues to succeed due to its simplicity, the benefits of IFS include smoother road handling and faster speeds. Both are important factors off-road.

The Wrangler and Bronco both have Dana 44s for their rear axles, and are available with electronic locking differentials.

One off-roading feature that has always distinguished the Rubicon is its electronically disconnecting sway bar. The Rubicon is the only Wrangler it's offered on. Broncos will officially be getting their own optional electronically disconnecting sway bar.

Though no one’s seen it in action yet, the Bronco’s sway bar is more exciting. Unlike the Rubicon’s, the Bronco’s can be disconnected while under load. There are a number of off-roading scenarios that would make that a handy feature.

Drivetrain

The Jeep Wrangler offers three transfer cases. Of these, the Selec-Trac is the only full-time 4WD option, and it’s only available on the Sahara. The Command-Trac is the standard part-time 4WD and comes on all other models except for the Rubicon. The Rubicon is equipped with the Rock-Trac.

Jeep Transfer Cases
Transfer CaseLow Range Ratio
Command-Trac 2.72
Selec-Trac 2.72
Rock-Trac 4.0

The Bronco will offer two transfer cases. The standard is an electronic shift-on-the-fly part-time 4WD. An advanced 4x4 transfer case that can automatically engage is also available.

Bronco Transfer Cases
Transfer CaseLow Range Ratio
Standard 2.72
Advanced 3.06
Wrangler Final Drive Ratios
ModelFinal Drive Ratio
Standard 3.45
Rubicon 4.10
Diesel Wranglers 3.73
Bronco Final Drive Ratios
ModelFinal Drive Ratio
Broncos with Manual Transmissions 4.46
Badlands Broncos with Manual Transmissions 4.70
Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks Bronco 3.73
Optional Ratio for Big Bend and Outer Banks Broncos 4.27
Black Diamond and Badlands Broncos 4.46
Any Bronco with Sasquatch Package 4.70

Off-Road Angles

One of the most important indicators of off-road performance is how much clearance a vehicle has. Off-road angles help measure this. While the Sport Wrangler has more clearance than the base Bronco, the Sasquatch package levels the playing field with the Rubicon quickly. The Sasquatch package’s 11.6” ground clearance is set to be best-in-class.

Off-Road Angles
Measurement2-Door Bronco2-Door Wrangler4-Door Bronco4-Door Wrangler
Approach Angle Base: 35.5 Degrees
Sasquatch Package: 43.2 Degrees
Base: 41.14 Degrees
Rubicon: 44 Degrees
Base: 35.5 Degrees
Sasquatch Package: 43.2 Degrees
Base: 41.14 Degrees
Rubicon: 44 Degrees
Breakover Angle Base: 21.1 Degrees
Sasquatch Package: 29 Degrees
Base: 25 Degrees
Rubicon: 27.8 Degrees
Base: 20 Degrees
Sasquatch Package: 26.3 Degrees
Base: 20.3 Degrees
Rubicon: 22.6 Degrees
Departure Angle Base: 29.8 Degrees
Sasquatch Package 37.2 Degrees
Base:35.9 Degrees
Rubicon: 37 Degrees
Base:29.7 Degrees
Sasquatch Package: 37 Degrees
Base: 36.1 Degrees
Rubicon: 37 Degrees
Ground Clearance Base: 8.4 Inches
Sasquatch Package: 11.6 Inches
Base: 9.7 Inches
Rubicon: 10.8 Inches
Base: 8.3 Inches
Sasquatch Package: 11.5 Inches
Base: 9.7 Inches
Rubicon: 10.8 Inches

Terrain Selection

Both the Jeep and the Bronco offer terrain selection modes. These driving modes are designed to automatically optimize your vehicle for the terrain you’re navigating.

Lime green Jeep crawling through the woods

Jeep’s is called “Selec-Terrain” and it features four modes: Auto, Snow, Sport, and Sand/Mud. The uses for these are pretty obvious. Auto’s what you’ll use when picking up groceries. Sport’s what you’ll pick for your cruise through the mountains. Snow and Sand/Mud are designed to help with traction loss.

The Bronco’s require a little more explanation. Ford is calling the Bronco’s modes “G.O.A.T.” an acronym for “Goes Over Any Type of Terrain.” The modes include normal, Mud/Ruts, Rock Crawling, Slippery, Sand, Baja, and Eco. If you aren’t sure when to use these you can refer to the FordPass Performance App on your SYNC 4 system. This app offers off-roading suggestions and trail maps as well as mode options.

Towing

Neither the Bronco or the Wrangler is going to be the vehicle of choice for serious towing. The four-door Wrangler and both Bronco sizes are capable of towing 3,500 pounds. The two-door Wrangler can only tow 2,000 pounds. This is more than enough for a small fishing boat, but not really enough for a camper.

Which Is Right for You?

After the Ford Bronco reveal, a lot of people are wondering if they should buy a Jeep or wait for a Bronco. The answer is that it depends. Both of these vehicles have a lot to offer. There are certain people the Wrangler will be better suited for, and people who really should hold out for a Bronco.

Who Is the Jeep Wrangler Right For?

The Jeep Wrangler has been around since the ‘80s. In that time, a true Jeep community has formed. If you’re all about Camp Jeep, Jeep Waves, and telling people that it’s a Jeep thing, you should probably get a Jeep.

The unique styling of the Wrangler is also something that many find appealing. Its military-inspired look goes from the exterior to the relatively spartan interior.

Another important feature of course is that the Wrangler is out now, and is available used. There won’t be used Broncos hitting the market for a long time, and it’ll be a while before you can even buy a Bronco. This will also affect the availability of aftermarket parts.

While the Jeep Wrangler already has an extensive inventory of parts, it will take the Bronco a while to get there. If you really love to personalize your off-roader immediately, the Wrangler will have more options for you. The Bronco will have over 200 dealer accessories, but it’s hard to compare that to the thousands of options the Wrangler already has available.

Who Is the Ford Bronco Right For?

If you value cargo space, plan to take the family on your off-roading adventures, or like the latest in tech, the Bronco is the right off-roader for you. The 2021 Bronco is feature-rich and, even in its base trim, offers a premium experience.

The off-roading performance of the Bronco hasn’t been truly tested yet. All performance indicators tell us that it’ll be a more than competent off-roader.

These are both great off-roaders that offer very comparable features. Either would be capable of taking you to your dream off-roading destination. The choice ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco

Now that we have the details and specifications for the 2021 Bronco, it's time to compare them to the Jeep Wrangler. Though the Wrangler has been the undisputed off-roading vehicle of choice for several years, the Bronco's new features may give it the competitive edge. Here's how these two off-roaders compare.