When the Bronco made its triumphant return to the market, Ford made a serious effort to design distinct offerings within the lineup. Whether you intend to drive your 4x4 up a mountain or down a mall parking lot, the Blue Oval has a Bronco tailored to your needs. With the debut of the all-new Bronco Everglades, Ford has expanded the lineup to focus on one of off-roading’s fastest-growing segments: overlanding. Road & Track spoke with Bronco engineering manager Jamie Groves to discuss the automaker’s approach to such an undertaking.
Overlanding has grown in popularity in recent years, with folks consistently plunging deep into the untamed wilderness with their home-built rigs. Along with this rise, we’ve seen quite a few companies try and capitalize on the fun. Ford knows the off-road community well, and was well poised to do just that with a dedicated variant of the much-desired Bronco. The company didn’t do this in a vacuum however, as the Everglades was designed with the wants of overlanding customers in mind, according to Groves.
“Overlanding customers are looking for self-reliance, great load carrying capabilities, and efficiency off-road,” said Groves.
In order to meet those goals, Ford started with a Bronco powered by the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. The four-pot is the sole powertrain available in Everglades trim, and comes exclusively mated to the 10-speed automatic. And while you might have understandably wanted to see the larger 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 under the hood, Groves notes that omission was purposeful. In order to allow customers to get as far away from civilization as possible, the Blue Oval decided to opt for the more efficient and much lighter 2.3-liter. The whole point of the activity is to separate oneself from modern conveniences like gas stations, so that isn’t something to be disappointed about. When you have to bring all of your equipment and sustenance with you, cutting down on jerry cans has to be welcomed. Besides, 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque should be sufficient for almost every off-road scenario.
The weight savings on the nose also allowed Ford to stick a 10,000-pound-capable Warn winch up front, which will bolster an owner’s ability to get out of any sort of tricky situation. The winch has also undergone Built Ford Tough testing, as well as the automaker’s own corrosion verification process. Should you encounter any deep water during your adventures, the factory-installed snorkel system will do its best to prevent hydrolocking. Interestingly, Ford’s powertrain engineers were able to keep the pressure within the intake system nearly unchanged despite the reworked air path, negating the need for a unique engine calibration.
While the Bronco Everglades is focused on the overlanding experience, the 4x4 is still a well-rounded off-roader. Thanks to the Sasquatch Package being included on all Everglades models, the SUV should be able to hang with its more powerful siblings on the trails.
“If you look at Everglades, the Wildtrak is kinda at the other end of the spectrum so to speak,” said Groves. “That vehicle is aimed at high-speed open desert driving. In that application, the larger engine makes a bit more sense, whereas the heavy winch on the nose of the Everglades might not. That’s not to say the Everglades couldn’t do that, as the two trucks do ride on the same Sasquatch Package suspension.”
If you are looking to purchase a new SUV with the intention of going overlanding, Ford clearly wants your attention. That said, you’d likely be happy with any of the offerings in the Bronco stable. That’s especially true when you remember that Ford sells a ton of different accessories for these trucks, many of which are aimed for this sort of activity. Regardless, you can pick yourself up the factory’s take on a rig for $53,000 plus a $1495 destination fee. That’s a lot more affordable than some of the crazy builds coming out of the aftermarket right now.