2021 Ford Bronco vs Jeep Wrangler Off-Road Capability

The announcement that Ford were reincarnating the Bronco after almost 25 years caught many of us by surprise. Then the excitement set in. This news meant that the battle for America’s avid off-roader’s hearts had heated up.

The Jeep Wrangler is hands down the leader in the rugged, off-road-ready SUV market so Bronco already has its work cut out. Is Bronco a worthy competitor for the Wrangler? Will the newly designed 2021 Ford Bronco win over hearts and give the Wrangler a run for its money?

How do these two beasts stack up against each other when it comes to their off-roading prowess? Let’s find out.

Body Style & Design

One of the reasons why Jeep Wranglers are so popular is because they have endless customization options. This makes it easy to craft custom Jeep builds as well as add on some Jeep modifications and upgrades.

When it comes to the overall design and style, the 2020 Jeep Wrangler has pretty much stayed true to its original roots with the round headlights, vertically slotted grille, flat front fenders, boxy shape, and large windows for maximum off-road visibility.

From what we have seen, the 2021 Bronco is also inspired by the 1st generation Bronco. This is obvious from the front and rear overhangs, bold fender flares, and the round headlights.

For those wishing to customize their Broncos, there will be more than 200 dealer-installed accessories available.

Open-Air Driving

Many of us love having the option of open-air driving when hitting the trails. Jeep has maximized on this and the 2020 Wrangler is no different and comes with the standard soft top and removable hardtops.

Ford has also made it easy to change the Bronco to a convertible with minimal hassle. There is a three-piece removable hardtop that comes standard with the two-door 2021 Bronco while the four-door models come standard with a soft-top. There’s also a four-piece removable hardtop available for the four-door or you could get a package that includes both options.

The doors on the new Bronco are frameless so they’re less clumsy to remove when compared to the Wrangler’s. Another key difference is that the Bronco’s side-mirrors are mounted onto the body so you can still use them when you remove the doors.

However, the Bronco’s windshield can’t be folded forward onto the hood so Jeep wins on that.


When it comes to engines the Wrangler comes with a standard 3.6-liter V6 with 260 lb-ft of torque or an optional 3.0-liter V6 diesel or a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4. The Bronco on the other hand gets a standard 2.3-liter turbo I4 with 310 lb-ft of torque or an optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. It’s worth noting that the smaller Bronco engine beats out the best torque number on the Wrangler and the optional Bronco engine is also a powerhouse churning out 400 lb-ft of torque and 310 horsepower. We don’t know about you but we sure would love to have that much power on our side when taking the rigs off-road.

Axles and Differentials

The axles and differentials on both vehicles also differ significantly. The Jeep Wrangler comes equipped with a trusty set of solid Dana axles both in the front and rear.

The 2021 Ford Bronco opts or an independent front suspension (IFS) with coilover springs. This can provide a smoother ride if you intend to go at more than crawl-speed. It also gives you better ground clearance as well as allow for more independent movement of each front wheel.

General Off-roading Capabilities

i)      Ground Clearance

Ground clearance allows a vehicle to easily navigate obstacles when going off-road. The new two-door Ford Bronco comes with 8.4 inches of clearance while the four-door version comes with 8.3 inches. This isn’t as high as the Wrangler which gives a massive 9.7 inches of ground clearance. However, when equipped with 35” wheels, the Bronco will ride much higher at 11.6 inches compared to the 10.8 inches cleared by the Jeep.

ii)    Water Fording Depth

If you’re planning on driving through water, then you need to pay attention to your vehicle’s fording depth. The Bronco’s maximum fording depth is an impressive 33.5 inches beating out Wrangler’s 30 inches when both rigs are well equipped.

iii)   4WD Systems

A vehicle’s 4WD systems are also critical in determining off-roading performance. Jeep decided to reward the driver’s skill, preferring to equip their Wranglers with one of 3 available 4WD systems with two-speed transfer cases for low-range capability. Ford followed an almost similar route, giving all Bronco models four-wheel-drive systems as standard. The base 4WD package comes with a two-speed electronic transfer case.

The biggest difference between the two is that the Bronco’s 4WD system comes with shift-on-the-fly capability and automatic on-demand 4WD mode. By contrast, the Wrangler’s 4WD systems are shift-on-the-fly only part of the time and have to be manually engaged by the driver.

We also can’t fail to mention Bronco’s G.O.A.T (Go Over Any Terrain) traction management system that makes life so much easier for off-roaders. This system features terrain-specific modes including Sport, Eco, Normal, Baja, Sand, Rock Crawling, etc. You can toggle through these different driving modes ensuring that your ride can comfortably handle just about any terrain you throw at it.

Whether you are a hardcore Jeep fanatic or you prefer the retro-stylish looks of the Bronco, one thing is certain, these two beasts are going to keep us entertained on the trails next year. We are already looking forward to trying our hand on the new 2021 Ford Bronco as soon as it hits the shops to see what modifications and upgrades we can add to boost its off-roading prowess and create a custom rig.

Regardless of the 4WD you drive, make sure to bring it to the Dixie 4 Wheel Drive auto shops in either Moab or St. George, Utah both before and after hitting the trails. We offer a variety of trail prep and safety packages to ensure your rig performs at its best.

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