The official launch of the 2021 Ford Bronco and Ford Bronco Sport drew in millions of Ford fanatics and the curious from the Jeep Wrangler set. The blue oval took $100 deposits from more than 165,000 people for the new SUV. And all this for an off-roader no one has ever driven unless they’re a Ford employee. Whether the Bronco lives up to the hype, there’s no question that the media onslaught from Ford was pitch perfect. But is it too much, too soon? Tommy says it is. Roman says no way.
Yes, the Bronco is the real deal
On paper, Ford’s off-roader is a sure-fire winner, when lining up bolt-by-bolt against the Jeep Wrangler. The Bronco’s design is a smash and an instant icon. Off-road capability should match the Wrangler — it has to if it wants to be legit. Like Jeep, Ford has plans for a never-ending array of add-ons, accessories, and whatnot, so owners can customize their Broncos as they see fit.
Helping Ford’s case is their social media, specifically “Bronco Nation,” which claims to be an outlet by and for Bronco enthusiasts where they can show off all their Broncos can do. Seeing as no one from the public or press has driven a Bronco, the feeds are slowly filling up with Ford PR and engineers taking the Bronco and Bronco Sport to some of America’s most legendary off-roading spots (the Rubicon Trail in Tahoe and Moab, for example) to make them look amazing.
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Between the design, stats, and pent up demand for a competitor to the Jeep, Ford has already sold out the initial Launch Edition of the Bronco, priced at an eye-popping $65,000. With demand like that expect the first month or two’s allotment of Broncos to hit dealers with equally prohibitive markups. In business terms, the whole reveal and teasing launch is a win. And no independent testing or reviews were necessary.
The Ford Bronco release follows another car company hell-bent on controlling its brand messaging and selling cars to buyers years before they deliver them: Tesla.
Ford blew it by forcing buyers to wait so long for the Bronco
Tommy makes the case that while the new Bronco looks and sounds incredible, there have been zero independent reviews of it. At best, some car journalists were given the chance to sit it in while it was driven. For a vehicle with so much amazing b-roll imagery and demonstrated experience off-road, this strikes us as somewhat fishy. Like they’re not done building and spec’ing the Bronco and anything could still change.
There’s also the wait. Ford introduced the world to the Bronco in mid-July, but won’t deliver the Bronco Sport until the end of the year, and the full-size Bronco until summer 2021–and that’s only for those willing to pay-up for the premium launch edition and the severely marked-up units that come after. It could be mid-summer to next fall before you start to see any Broncos on the streets.
The problem with the long wait, as Tommy sees it, is this: One year gives Jeep plenty of time to come up with a new-and-improved Wrangler that one-ups the Bronco. A year gives Toyota time to develop a Bronco fighter (return of the FJ? Or news of the next-gen 4Runner?) and reveal it just as the new Bronco finally becomes available to anyone walking into a dealership. We’ve seen this happen before. For the first half of this year, each couple of days at TFL we would get an email from a viewer asking us whether or not he or she should buy a Wrangler now or wait for the Bronco.
Tesla has repeatedly played this game and mastered it. But Musk & Co. could do it because the technology and driving experience exceeded expectations every time. (Build-quality is a different story.) One punch of the accelerator in that Tesla that took 1-2 years to get to you, and you knew instantly that it was worth the wait. Will the Bronco deliver that Wow!-factor that makes it worth the wait? We’ll have to wait until next summer to see.