Before you get too excited about the 2022 Ford Bronco and read too deeply into this review, just know that popping over to the nearest Ford dealer and expecting to just buy a new Bronco off the lot is basically impossible. You’ll probably need a miracle just to see one, let alone test-drive one. Cross-shop the multitude of possible builds? Ha! Good one. Now, you should be able to place an order for some point in future (hopefully not too distant), so it’ll still be good to know that the new Bronco is every bit as enjoyable as it seems in pictures and on paper. It enjoys tangible advantages when driving on road over its chief rival, the Jeep Wrangler, while being just as capable of traveling far into the woods, over rocks and through the mud. It’s even sufficiently practical (well, at least with four doors), with a family-friendly back seat and cargo area.
At the same time, the 2022 Bronco won’t be for everyone. Yes, it’s tremendously cool and only gets cooler once you start checking boxes labeled “Badlands,” “Wildtrak” or “Sasquatch,” but just know that the Bronco is still an off-road-oriented SUV. It’s very loud, the ride can be rough, the handling is poor relative to a crossover, and the gigantic all-terrain tires that look so cool on the Badlands, etc., hurt its handling, noise and fuel economy further. Just consider yourself warned before putting your name down on that waiting list.
What’s new for 2022?
You can now pair the Sasquatch package with the standard seven-speed manual transmission, while a few dealer-installed options are added: tube doors, a body appearance kit available on all but the Badlands and Wildtrak, and a tailgate table available on all but Badlands. The heavy-duty storage bags for the doors and roof panels are no longer available, nor are a variety of dealer-installed soft-top options. Finally, Hot Pepper Red and Eruption Green are new color choices, while Rapid Red, Antimatter Blue and Lightning Blue Metallic are discontinued. The latter is pictured above on a 2021 Bronco Black Diamond, which is otherwise no different than a 2022 version.
The Ford Bronco interior delivers a suitably rugged and retro-inspired design that goes well with its exterior. Those models that get an extra splash of color here are there are standouts, but in general, it’s appropriately one of the more characterful cabins out there. There are also a number of thoughtful details well-suited for the Bronco’s rugged use: rubber-lined grips that help you climb aboard (and keep you in place), rubber-encased buttons, roof-mounted auxiliary switches, a lockable center console bin, MOLLE strap connectors on the front seatbacks and storage bags for the doors and roof panels with diagrams that explain how you properly Tetris them inside the cargo area.
There’s also no shortage of modern features available, most notably those associated with Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment system. Although the general user interface is the same, there are standard 8-inch (pictured) and optional 12-inch screens available. We still prefer the Jeep Wrangler’s Uconnect system, but Sync 4 is perfectly agreeable and easy to use. We’re not fans of the digital instrument cluster, though. There’s a too-small digital speedometer that parrots a redundant too-small analog speedometer at the left, and worst of all, a strange tachometer that consists of a vertical bar graph and the number of your revs divided by 1,000. While this isn’t an issue in an automatic-equipped Bronco, it requires too much mental recalibration when using the manual transmission. There’s also no way to change this design despite it being digital.
The biggest downside of the Bronco interior, however, is the disappointing materials quality throughout. Most of the plastics are hard and seem likely to be scratched (those in the cargo area of our low-miles test Bronco were already a bit rough). This will likely be a bigger deal in pricier Bronco trim levels. While we’re not expecting Land Rover ambiance in the Bronco, what’s present is nevertheless of a lower ilk than what you’d find in the Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner.
We had a number of people come up to us and ask whether the Bronco 4-Door was in fact the baby Bronco Sport – they were expecting it to be bigger, perhaps more like the F-150-based Bronco of O.J. infamy. It’s not quite that big, but the 4-Door is still a midsize SUV with a family-friendly back seat (a Britax rear-facing child seat easily fit without moving the front seat too much) and a cargo area that betters the Wrangler Unlimited’s. You can get an idea of how much both can carry, plus the Land Rover Defender and Toyota 4Runner, in our Bronco luggage test comparison.
As for the Bronco 2-Door, it loses a lot more than just a pair of doors. Its wheelbase and length are both 15.7 inches shorter, which is a significant amount. While the back seat only loses 0.6 of an inch of legroom, the cargo area implodes from 35.6 cubic-feet to 22.4 cubic-feet. That’s the difference between a midsize SUV and a subcompact one. Of course, its smaller dimensions are a boon when driving off-road and there will always be a certain coolness associated with opting for two doors rather than four.
There are two available engines, both of which are turbocharged. The standard 2.3-liter inline-four produces a stout 275 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a seven-speed manual transmission, which is really just a six-speed with a crawler gear offering a crawl ratio of 94.75:1 with the shortest available axle ratio; the optional 10-speed automatic can best achieve a ratio of 67.8:1, again with the optional axle. Fuel economy is the same 21 mpg combined regardless of transmission, but opting for the fat all-terrain tires of the Black Diamond, Badlands, Wildtrak or Sasquatch package will significantly drop efficiency down into the 17-18 mpg range. We saw 20 mpg in 258 miles of mostly highway driving with a manual-equipped Black Diamond.
The 2.7-liter turbo V6 is good for 315 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, which betters the 2.7 offered in the Ford F-150. The 10-speed automatic is mandatory with the V6. Fuel economy is 19 mpg combined with standard tires, but drops down to 17 mpg combined with the fat tire options.
Four-wheel drive is standard on every Bronco, but like Jeep, Ford offers different grades. The standard system features a two-speed, electronic, shift-on-the-fly transfer case with a 2.72:1 low ratio, while the optional system has a 3:06:1 low ratio and adds a 4A mode that automatically goes between 2H and 4H when needed. The differentials are produced by Dana, with the rear being a Dana 44, with standard AdvanTEK units and available Spicer Performa-TraK electronic locking units.
With two body styles, two engines, two transmissions, multiple trim levels, multiple tire choices and various roof choices, it’s impossible to come up with one specific answer to how the Bronco drives. A 2-Door Big Bend with the manual is a much different creature than a 4-Door Wildtrak. We’d love to say “go try out as many as you can at a dealership,” but given supply issues, that’s just not realistic. Here at least is what we’ve discovered with the Broncos we’ve driven.
The Bronco’s independent front suspension pays huge dividends when driving on-road. A Jeep Wrangler, which has solid axles front and rear, feels sloppy and disconnected by comparison. Keeping the Bronco straight on the highway is easier, while the rack-and-pinion steering is significantly tighter and more precise. It’s just generally more comfortable and inspires more confidence.
The same can generally be said when in comparison to a Toyota 4Runner, but don’t expect the Bronco to be rivaling midsize crossovers for civility. For starters, it’s extremely loud – louder in fact than the 4Runner and potentially even the Wrangler. The fat tire options or a soft top only turn up the volume further, and we should note that the Black Diamond tester we drove extensively on the highway had the optional sound-deadening roof panels. The ride is also quite firm, and “better than a Wrangler” is hardly a ringing endorsement for any vehicle’s handling.
Off-road? There’s only so much we can fit in here, so for the most thorough look possible, check out our Bronco first drive review where we test multiple versions at Ford’s Off-Roadeo park in Texas. We went even deeper into a 2-Door with the manual and its crawler gear there.
As for the engines, the standard 2.3-liter gets the job done. It sounds pretty buzzy at low revs, but there’s sufficient highway passing power and diesel-like low-end grunt. The manual is a treat to use and we’d happily put up with the 2.3-liter buzz to row our own gears every day. That said, the 10-speed auto is just as capable here as it is in other Fords – we just wish there were manual paddle shifters for situations when you want to stick with a specific gear. We’ve only had a chance to drive the 2.7-liter off-road, so apart from saying that it’s not a necessity given the perfectly capable 2.3, we also can fully appreciate what having all that extra power would mean, especially on the highway.
What other Ford Bronco reviews can I read?
Our first and most comprehensive review of the Bronco, including drives of as many variations as we could manage: two-door, four-door, base trim level, fancy Outer Banks, and of course, the mighty Sasquatch package.
We were one of the few outlets to drive a Bronco with the seven-speed manual, and specifically, we got to try out its crawler gear off-road.
Here we touch on everything from its all-new frame and substantial off-road clearances, to its many roof choices and the “weird” design process that came up with a bevy of unique features.
We see how the Bronco 4-Door’s cargo area compares with the luggage-carrying capabilities of the Wrangler Unlimited, 4Runner TRD Pro and Land Rover Defender 110.
Contributing engineer/writer Dan Edmunds does his usual thing by diving deeply into the new Bronco’s underpinnings … albeit from afar using pictures rather than crawling under the thing while it’s parked in his driveway.
Here are some smaller details that nevertheless help make the new Bronco pretty damn cool.
The Bronco 2-Door pricing starts at $30,515, while the 4-Door starts at $34,665. Both body styles are available in the same trim levels: the sparse Base, Big Bend (adds features and offers more options), Black Diamond (the first extra-off-road-oriented trim), Outer Banks (vaguely more luxurious and on-road-oriented), Badlands (the extreme rock-crawler) and Wildtrak (the high-speed desert runner with standard V6). Although there have been some changes since the Bronco was revealed, including the 2022 updates, this trim level breakdown still provides a very helpful deep dive into their feature content.
The most notable option is the Sasquatch package, which includes 17-inch alloy wheels (beadlock capable), 35-inch tires, high-clearance suspension and fender flares, and a 4.7:1 final drive ratio with electronic-locking front and rear axles. Pricing differs based on trim level (basically between $4,000 and $6,600), but it can be applied to any of them.
The $1,495 destination charge is applied to all of the below prices.
Bronco 2-Door Pricing
Big Bend: $35,010
Black Diamond: $37,665
Outer Banks: $40,570
Wildtrak (V6 standard): $48,995
Bronco 4-Door Pricing
Big Bend: $37,345
Black Diamond: $40,010
Outer Banks: $42,915
Every 2022 Ford Bronco includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. It also comes standard with side curtain airbags, which may be totally normal for an SUV, but not for a convertible. The Wrangler doesn’t have them. It should also be noted that the side mirrors are attached to the body rather than the removable front doors, as on the Wrangler.
Optional on the Big Bend and Black Diamond, and standard on those above, is the Co-Pilot360 package that adds blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, plus lane-keeping assist. Adaptive cruise control is added with the Lux package offered on the Outer Banks, Badlands and Wildtrak.
The Bronco received a perfect five stars for overall, frontal and side crash protection from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Even its four-star rollover score is commendable.
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