Ford’s decision to bring back the Bronco is a wise one. It’s not unusual to see one sitting in a driveway alongside far more expensive machinery. It has that élan, the same aura possessed by its competition from Jeep and Land Rover.
A Week With: 2022 Ford Bronco Black Diamond
Having reported on the Bronco when it first arrived, the time has come to give it a weeklong shakedown. Our test drive was in a 2021 Bronco Black Diamond four-door model, but little changes for 2022.
The Bronco is a traditional body-on-frame SUV based on the next-generation Ford Ranger pickup truck with two doors or four, and sold in ascending Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands and Wildtrak trim. Each model is meant to have a slightly different personality. Base models are just that, while the Big Bend is a popular-priced off-roader.
The Black Diamond is meant for “adventure off-roading,” although it just means you get more options. The Outer Banks is off-roaders who need to look stylish, while Badlands buyers are equipped for the most extreme off-road conditions. Finally, the Wildtrak is meant for high-speed driving once the sidewalk ends. Think Baja 1000 and you’ll get the drift. All come with turbocharged 4- or 6-cylinder engines paired with a 7-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Bronco’s look is iconic without being retro, a tough act to pull off. And despite its three decade absence from the market, the newest Bronco is clearly a Bronco, something you couldn’t say of the 1991 model. Like the Jeep Wrangler with which it competes, the Bronco comes with a choice of a soft or hard top what can be removed, as can the doors.
The four-door model is 15.7 inches longer than the two-door, yet appears even larger because of the Bronco’s boxy styling. That said, care is called for when driving it as the plastic fender arches are easily scraped in close quarters. As for overall style, each trim level has unique design touches that differentiate them. Thoughtfully, Ford designers mounted the side mirrors to the windshield frame, so they’re still available if you decide to remove the doors.
The Bronco’s chunky, rugged interior styling is enhanced by its eloquent simplicity. The large infotainment screen dominates the instrument panel, with climate controls clearly paced beneath it. There’s plenty of head and leg room, and ample cargo space.
Washable rubberized floors with integrated drains and marine-grade vinyl seating surfaces are available. Nevertheless, the Bronco is awash in plastic surfaces that look cheap considering this vehicle’s price.
All Broncos are powered by one of two gas engines: a 300-horsepower turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine or an optional 330-hp twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6. A 7-speed manual is standard on 4-cylinder models and includes a granny gear and hill descent control, which automatic models don’t have. A 10-speed automatic is standard with the V-6 and optional on the four and includes a transmission oil cooler.
Equipped with an independent front suspension and solid rear axle, Broncos come with an electronic 4×4 system with a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case with 2Hi, 4Hi, 4Lo, and neutral. The Bronco’s standard Terrain Management System features five “G.O.A.T.” (Goes Over Any Terrain) modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand. But opting for higher trim level nets more driving modes. Big Bend models add a Mud/Ruts mode; Black Diamond models also get a Rock-Crawl mode.
The optional 4×4 system features a two-speed electromechanical transfer case that adds an auto mode for on-demand gear selection. Opting for the optional system and seven-speed brings with it a crawler gear ratio of 94.75:1, which drops to 67.8:1 with the automatic.
Ford also offers Trail Control, basically cruise control for low-speed trail driving, and Trail Turn Assist, which tightens the Bronco’s turning radius off-road. There’s also an optional front anti-roll bar disconnect for maximum suspension articulation, and a Sasquatch Package that adds 35-inch mud-terrain tires, electronic-locking front and rear axles, 4.7:1 final drive ratio, high-clearance suspension, and Bilstein shock absorbers with high-clearance fender flares.
Safety and Technology
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2021 or 2022 Ford Bronco.
But Ford’s driver assistance technology suite, known as Co-Pilot 360, is standard, and includes pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward-collision warning, dynamic brake support, post-collision braking, hill start assist, hill descent control (manual transmission only), rear view camera, and auto high-beam headlamps. Big Bend models add lane-keeping assist, a driver attention monitor, and a blind spot-information system with cross-traffic alert.
An 8-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB ports, and a six-speaker AM/FM/SiriusXM radio is standard. A 12-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi hotspot, navigation system with more than 1,000 curated trail maps and a Bang & Olufsen sound system are available. And the infotainment system can be updated over-the-air.
You wouldn’t expect this big, boxy behemoth to be so athletic. But it is. Built to tackle the worst that off-roading can deliver, the Bronco is surprisingly refined when ensconced in civilization.
Ok, you don’t want to race a Mustang unless you’re off-road. But it’s demeanor when traversing pokey parkways is unexpectedly comfortable. Credit its independent front suspension, and tuning that makes you forget you’re riding on 35-inch tires. Being built for the wilderness, you experience nose dive during braking and the sort of articulation you’d expect. But it’s well controlled, making traversing the treacheries of suburbia a snap.
Even with its relatively small engines, the bronco is no fuel economy champ. The test vehicle returned 16 mpg, which isn’t surprising given its styling this vehicles raison raison d’être. And note that in order to get the V-6’s 330 hp, you have to use premium fuel, otherwise you’ll only get 315 horsepower.
And its engine note? Let’s just say it’s not the mechanical symphony you’ll enjoy.
2022 Ford Bronco Black Diamond four-door specifications:
|L: 189.4 inches/W: 73 inches/H: 75.9 inches/Wheelbase: 116.1 inches
|2.7-liter 6-cylinder engine, 10-speed automatic transmission and AWD
|17 mpg city/17 mpg highway/17 mpg combined
|330 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $38,795; As tested: $50,470 including $1,495 destination charge
The 2022 Ford Bronco is a welcome return of an iconic personality, one that makes too many other SUVs seem drab and lifeless by comparison. Its off-road cred is more than skin deep. It’s a daily driver that will make you smile every time you approach it, while its capability ensures that you’ll always get where you need to go.
2022 Ford Bronco — Frequently Asked Questions
Are 2022 Ford Broncos available?
Production on 2022 models begins Dec. 15, but Ford has yet to fill all 2021 orders, meaning they could be pushed into 2022.
How much is a 2022 Ford Bronco?
It starts at $29,300 for the two-door Base, not including options, destination charge and any applicable sales tax.
What comes with the Sasquatch Package?
The Sasquatch Package comes with 17-inch black high gloss-painted aluminum wheels with a warm alloy beauty ring, high clearance suspension and fender flares, LT315/70R17 mud-terrain tires, Bilstein shock absorbers and a 4.7 final drive ratio with electronic-locking front and rear axle.