Off-roading has become a hot trend these days, reflected in the emergence of so many new products and sub-brands, like Honda’s TrailSport and Subaru’s Wilderness models. But for those who want to take things to new extremes, Ford has a special-edition Bronco ready to take out to the badlands.
At the SEMA Show today, the Detroit automaker revealed the Ford Bronco DR. While automakers are fond of showing off concept vehicles at the annual Las Vegas event, this modified version of the Bronco will actually be produced — in limited numbers.
In case you’re wondering, the DR stands for “Desert Runner,” and it’s precisely the sort of vehicle you’d want for a hard run down the Baja Peninsula. Ford describes it as a “turnkey racing solution for serious off-road competitors.”
Making the rubber meet the … sand?
Building a race-ready vehicle at the factory and then offering it for sale to retail customers “is a bit unique in itself,” said Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports global director. “At the heart of what we did here was capture the enthusiasm surrounding Bronco, and then build on it by creating a desert racer that is competition-ready coming out of the factory — something Ford has never done before.”
The Bronco DR is the result of a project teaming up Ford and Multimatic — the same Canadian company that builds the Ford GT supercar. (Multimatic also provides off-road components to Chevrolet and other companies.)
An initial look reveals something is different about the Bronco DR. Though it starts out with the SUV’s four-door body, it changes out a number of steel body panels for lighter fiberglass. Even so, that won’t be able to offset all the modifications Ford and Multimatic are making. The final truck weighs about 6,200 pounds.
Power and performance parts
The transformation of the Bronco begins by stuffing Ford’s 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 under the hood. The partners aren’t yet releasing final specs, but they’ve confirmed the SUV will make more than 400 horsepower when it goes on sale.
The engine is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and transfer case lifted from the Ford F-150, and power goes to all four wheels through electronic locking differentials at both ends. A substantially beefed up cooling system will prove critical during daytime runs across the Baja.
It’s easy to pump out plenty of power. But it’s the suspension that does all the work in a race like the Baja 1000. So, that’s where some of the biggest upgrades are being made, starting with Multimatic Positional Selective DSSV Dampers. The Canadians also have provided custom lower aluminum control arms up front. The Bronco DR gets 55.1% more suspension travel up front than the stock SUV, and 58.6% more in the rear, at 15.8 and 17.4 inches, respectively.
The DR, meanwhile, has an impressive approach angle of 47 degrees. Breakover is 33 degrees, with a 37 degree departure angle.
The truck rides on 37-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 all-season tires and beadlock wheels. The Baja-winning tires gain even more grip using “an advanced Krawl-TEK compound” for use on rocks and slick surfaces.
Completing the package, Multimatic adds a desert-ready roll cage for the two passengers that can still squeeze into the Bronco DR after all the mods have been made.
Look for the Bronco DR to make its race debut next year, says Ford, adding it, “is targeting entry in the 2022 SCORE Baja 1000, wearing Ford Performance red, white, black and blue livery honoring the Baja 1000 victory. The first 50 units of 2023 Bronco DR will be available for sale in late 2022 with a starting price in the mid-$200,000 range.”