Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco. Two of America’s sweethearts, and two names that went a while without appearing side by side until the introduction of the new Bronco for the 2021 model year. The first Jeep vs Bronco clash kicked off in 1966, when the Jeep CJ-5 finally had some worthy competition with the release of the first generation Bronco. Now, 56 years later, the fight is back on but now with modern electronics and reputations to uphold.
Both the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco are known for their off-the-beaten-path pedigree. Historically, both have been better to drive off of roads than on them. While both have been subdued a bit and have been trained in some city driving manners, the general off-road ethos is still a central part of the character of both.
The Jeep Wrangler is the most adherent model in their lineup to the classic Jeep formula. The no-nonsense 4-wheel drive, rigid live axle, and removable top arrangement has been a pillar of Jeep’s success in the YJ, TJ, JK, and most recent JL models. That formula isn’t likely to change anytime soon, either. The moral of the story is that you know what you’re getting from a JL Jeep Wrangler. Functional simplicity drenched in a lot of history.
On the other hand, the new Ford Bronco introduces some color into the offroad-capable SUV space. While trail-ready, it’s clear that the Bronco is slightly more road-focused than the Wrangler, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.
In this article, we’ll cover the Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco battle and discuss the similarities and differences between the two.
Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Explorer – Price
When comparing two vehicles in a similar class, price is often one of the first subjects that comes up. Value for money is always important to consider and in the Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco debate, each justifies its base MSRP in different ways.
Speaking generally, the 2022 Jeep Wrangler can be an extremely affordable car. With a base MSRP of $29,725, it is hard to beat in terms of off-road-oriented value for money. There is, however, quite the range in pricing between the Wrangler’s 12 trim levels. The primary four trim levels include the Sport, Sport S, Rubicon, and Sahara, with all but the Sahara available in either 2 or 4-door spec. All the way down to base spec, the Wrangler provides the Jeep basics like live axles, 4WD, and removable doors. Midrange options like the Unlimited Sport and Rubicon are priced at $35,640 and $43,595 respectively.
With a starting MSRP of $31,300, the 2022 Ford Bronco floats right around the entry point for the Jeep Wrangler. The base 2-door Bronco is the starting model, with the base 4-door upping the price tag a bit to $35,200. Like the Wrangler, the Bronco has a wide variety of trim levels to choose from, adding to a final tally of 8 main trims. The most premium 3.0L EcoBoost Raptor Bronco runs $68,500 before options. There are a good number of options that fall between the Base 2-door and Raptor models. A couple of these include the $43,450 Outer Banks model, available with either the 2.3L or 2.7L Ecoboost engine, and the $53,000 Everglades trim with 4 doors, a snorkel, and a 2.3L 4-cylinder Ecoboost engine.
Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco – Engine Options
One of the most significant discrepancies between the Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco is the engine options available for both. The Jeep Wrangler has two more engine options than the Bronco and more versatility in the engines that they offer. While the Bronco might lack the variety of powertrain choices that the Wrangler provides, the three that Ford offers are all very strong candidates.
2022 JL Jeep Wrangler Engine Options
The Wrangler has so many engine options that it is hard to keep them all straight. In terms of layout, everything between a 2.0L inline 4-cylinder turbo hybrid and a 6.4L V8 is available. In total, there are five engine options available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown of the engines available in the JL Wrangler:
|Engine||3.6L V6 VVT eTorque||2.0L Inline-4 Turbo||3.0L EcoDiesel||6.4L HEMI V8|
|Towing Capacity||3,500 lbs||3,500 lbs||3,500 lbs||3,500 lbs|
The tried and true 3.6L Pentastar V6 with VVT makes a return in the 2022 JL Wrangler as the standard engine. Producing 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, it’ll get the job done in terms of both on and off-road duty. It is also the only engine offered with a 6-speed manual, which takes the guesswork out of the equation if a manual is a must. The 3.6L Pentastar has proven to be one of the most reliable engines in the Jeep catalog. If you want to learn more about it before making your decision, take a look at our Jeep Wrangler Reliability and Problems guide.
Another standout option is the new inline-4 cylinder turbo hybrid powertrain found in the Wrangler 4xe. As the most sophisticated Wrangler to date, the 4xe combines traditional gas power with two electric motors. In combination, the 4xe produces 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, making it the second most powerful engine offered in the Wrangler.
If reliability and smooth power delivery are paramount, the 3.6L Pentastar and 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder are your best bet. However, if you are looking for a more modern option that introduces a bit of EV tech into the mix, the Wrangler 4xe might be for you.
2022 Ford Bronco Engine Options
Unlike the JL Wrangler, the 2022 Ford Bronco keeps the engine options simple with only three to choose from. On standard models, you have the option of either the 2.3L Ecoboost 4-cylinder or the 2.7L Ecoboost twin-turbo V6. Additionally, if you spring for the bad boy of the group, the Raptor Bronco, you’ll get a 3.0L Ecoboost twin-turbo V6. Here are the Ford Bronco engine options:
|Engine||2.3L EcoBoost I4||2.7L EcoBoost V6||3.0L EcoBoost V6|
|Towing Capacity||3,500 lbs||3,500 lbs||4,500 lbs|
As you can see, even the base model 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder puts out some pretty impressive figures. In base trim, the Ford Bronco comfortably gaps the Wrangler’s base 3.6L V6 by a comfortable margin. In fact, both of the standard EcoBoost engines outshine all of the options in the Wrangler outside of the 6.4L Hemi. Beyond just being powerful stock engines, Ford’s entire EcoBoost line is known for fantastic reliability as well. Both the 2.3L and 2.7L EcoBoost engines are extremely efficient and have tremendous power potential.
While both the 2.3L and 2.7L EcoBoost engines are solid, the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 is in another league. While it might be a departure from the Ford V8s that we’re used to, you’re still getting V8 power from the twin-turbocharged V6. In a statement from Ford, they noted that a 5.0L Coyote V8 was considered for the Bronco, but it wasn’t a good fit in the engine bay. Additionally, the Coyote wouldn’t provide the same all-around torque characteristics that the 3.0L EcoBoost provides.
Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco – Off-Road Capabilities
At the end of the day, most, if not all, of the people considering purchasing a JL Wrangler or Ford Bronco have at least a bit of an off-road itch. If that isn’t the case, you’re looking at the wrong SUVs. In fact, a major part of the Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco debate hinges on off-road performance. If we’re being honest, the JL Wrangler doesn’t have anything to prove. With Jeep’s longstanding reputation in the off-road space and the Wrangler’s proven off-road technology, the JL really is the benchmark.
As the new kid on the block, the 2022 Ford Bronco has much more to prove as far as all-terrain adventures are concerned. With that being said, on paper, the Bronco is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to conquering steep inclines and clearing obstacles. Without the pedigree of the Wrangler, the Bronco certainly is the underdog, though.
Jeep Wrangler JL Off-Road Abilities
Since the Wrangler still holds the off-road crown, we’ll start with it first. There are a few standout features that make the Wrangler a go-to choice for off-road enthusiasts. We’ll start with a discussion about axles, as there’s a significant difference in the way that the Wrangler chooses to do things. Unlike the Bronco which uses independent, control-arm front suspension, the Wrangler sticks to its roots with a solid front axle. The Wrangler’s argument is reliability, ease of replacement, and better articulation. While it is a terrible option for the street, it is a solid option for the trail.
Beyond axle configuration, the 2022 Wrangler comes with an assortment of 4WD system options depending on spec. In ascending order in terms of complexity and performance, Jeep offers a part-time 4WD system called Command-Trac, Selec-Trac system providing automatic 4WD, and the Rock-Trac system that is limited to Rubicon and hybrid 4xe Rubicon models. The Rock-Trac 4WD system is unquestionably the most badass for off-road activities. Equipped as standard with electronic locking differentials and a front sway-bar disconnect feature, it is the top of the line for off-road junkies.
When it comes to approach and departure angles, things get a bit more tricky. The Wrangler unquestionably has the Bronco beat, providing 44 degrees of clearance when equipped with 33-inch tires. In terms of departure angles, the Wrangler varies in performance between 35.9 degrees and 37 degrees depending on the trim and configuration. Ground clearance is impressive too, with the Wrangler clearing 10.8 inches.
Ford Bronco Off-Road Abilities
We’ve already established that the Jeep Wrangler is hard to beat when it comes to off-road excursions. While the Bronco might not be quite able to go head-to-head with the Wrangler, it certainly comes close. In fact, there are areas where the Bronco can outperform the Wrangler despite being the less desirable off-road option overall.
Like the Wrangler, the 2022 Bronco is a body-on-frame SUV. That means that the body is bolted to an underlying steel frame that contains the engine, wheels, and suspension. This makes the Bronco, and Wrangler, extra-rugged and able to withstand heavy abuse. While the Bronco ditches a live front axle in favor of a control arm setup, it still retains a live rear axle. As a result, it is focused more towards on-street driving in that respect.
The 2022 Ford Bronco can be ordered with two different 4WD systems. The first is a two-speed, shift-on-the-fly system with a 2.72:1 low ratio. The other optional system is a two-speed electromechanical option that allows for quick switching from 2H to 4H and drops the low-range ratio to 3.06:1.
In terms of numbers that matter, the Bronco beats out the Wrangler in a surprising amount of off-road metrics. Revisiting approach and departure angles, and ground clearance, the Bronco takes the victory in two of the three. While the Wrangler provides a better approach angle, maxed-out Bronco Wildtraks with Sasquatch 35” tires have a departure angle of 37.2 degrees. Compared to the Wrangler’s maximum departure angle of 35.9 degrees, it’s an easy win for the Bronco. The same can be said for the Bronco’s ground clearance. In a similar spec as listed above, the Bronco puts 11.6 inches between its belly and the ground. That’s nearly an inch more than the Wrangler.
While both the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco are more than capable off-road SUVs, pavement isn’t really their strong suit. There’s a stronger case to be made for the Bronco, but only marginally so, as neither is anything to write home about from an on-street perspective.
Most of the issues that plague both the Wrangler and Bronco from a daily-driven perspective arise from their off-road pedigree. The Wrangler, for example, struggles in the steering department, with most drivers saying that the steering feels completely disconnected and floaty at the front end. Once again revisiting the topic of the Wrangler’s live front axle, it presents a significant and noticeable disconnect between the driver and the road compared to a vehicle with a modern independent control-arm setup.
The Bronco is a good example of that, as it has an independent front control arm setup with rack-and-pinion steering. That makes the Bronco feel more controllable and stable under high speeds. The general consensus is that the Bronco still gets unsettled in the rear when you encounter potholes, road imperfections, and broken pavement. Axle hop and lateral movement are still present, but with the front always planted control is much better.
Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco – Interior and Technology
If we’re being honest, Jeep has never been known for lavish interiors. That is okay to a point, but previous generation Jeep Wranglers always felt like they were lagging a decade behind in terms of fit, finish, and overall comfort. Of course, luxury is miles from the intended purpose of the Wrangler, but some modern amenities are always welcome.
While Ford isn’t the cream of the crop as far as technology and polished interior design are concerned, they have historically done a better job than Jeep of staying somewhat current. Some of Ford’s more premium SUV models, like the Explorer and Expedition, have shown an effort by Ford to dip their toe into the luxury segment without jacking up costs. In doing so, their infotainment solutions and passenger accommodation options have improved substantially.
Jeep Wrangler Interior and Features
While historically Jeep might have been lacking in the interior comfort and features department, the JL Wrangler is certainly a step in the right direction. With that being said, you’ll have to move up the trim levels a bit if you are expecting more than the bare minimum.
If power windows and door locks are a must, the base Sport trim isn’t for you. It isn’t until you opt for the $33,340 Sport S model that powered amenities are included. That is also the trim level where you’ll receive the larger 7” infotainment screen with Jeep’s UConnect software. By most accounts, it is a pretty intuitive system if not a bit basic. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are also part of the package.
In terms of actual luxury enhancements, internal features don’t improve much past that point. Dual-zone climate control is introduced with the Sahara Wrangler and the High-Altitude model gets Nappa leather seats. All Wrangler models also get a rear backup camera and an 8-speaker audio system.
While it still doesn’t exude luxury, the JL Wrangler has all of the features that you need in an off-road SUV. The interior truly isn’t a bad place to be. All of the controls and buttons are centrally located below the infotainment screen for easy access. With 12.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, there is just enough for a long weekend excursion to whatever off-the-grid destination that you choose.
Ford Bronco Interior and Features
A few paragraphs ago, we spent a bit of screen real estate building up Ford’s recent endeavor into sprucing up their interiors. Well, in a similar way to how Jeep broke the mold a bit with the JL Wrangler, Ford did the same with the Bronco. Except they went in the opposite direction. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some redeeming characteristics to the Bronco’s interior, but overall it isn’t stellar.
With that being said, one of the things that the Bronco interior has going for it is the infotainment screen. In many ways, everything else in the Bronco’s interior is built around the either 8” or 12” touchscreen display. The screen itself runs Ford’s SYNC 4 software which is said to be very intuitive and quick to respond. As with the infotainment system in the Wrangler, the Bronco’s screen also features Apple Car Play and Android Auto as standard. Pretty much everything is either monitored or controlled through the central screen, and a few adjustments can be made via the digital dash.
In terms of other notable features, there really aren’t any. One of the most glaring controls is the console-mounted G.O.A.T. controller which is a hefty piece of equipment. It is the dial used to control the terrain settings for the 4WD and differential. Other than that, there aren’t any seriously important features of interest.
It is pretty clear that most of the cost savings needed for the Bronco to be a competitive price were stripped from the interior. Like the Wrangler, some Bronco models feature a floor drain and have washable interiors. However, that isn’t a good enough excuse to forgive how non-premium the materials look and feel.
Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco Summary
In many ways, the Wrangler versus Bronco showdown is a master against apprentice type situation. The JL Wrangler abides by the same strategy that Jeep has employed for the past 36 years. It truly is an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality from Jeep and one that continues to pay off to this day. While Ford is just now reentering the off-road SUV space, they hit the ground running with the Bronco. Ultimately, they have found a way to nearly match the Wrangler’s capabilities at a similar price point.
In terms of variety and versatility, Jeep has a leg up due to the fact that the Wrangler range has had time to expand. With five different engine options and three different 4WD systems, there is more diversity in the Wrangler lineup. With that being said, the EcoBoost engine options and two 4WD systems offered in the Bronco are solid and proven.
At the end of the day, there’s no question that the Jeep Wrangler is the better off-road vehicle. With the live front and rear suspension in combination with its electronically locking differentials and front sway bar disconnect feature, the Wrangler truly is a no-compromise trail-crusher. The Bronco shouldn’t be written off either, with capable off-road systems on board as well.
However, where the Wrangler is the no-compromise option, the Bronco makes some civilian concessions. With independent front suspension, the Bronco sacrifices some off-road performance for on-street driving characteristics. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, especially if you spend more time on the road than on the trail. The Wrangler could probably benefit from better on-street handling characteristics, but that would contradict its DNA.
Both the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco achieved what they set out to accomplish. If off-road performance is the end-all-be-all, choose the Wrangler. If you are looking for a daily driver that can get you down a tricky dirt road every now and again, the Bronco might be your best bet.