I’ve been on scores of new product drives in my two decades-plus of writing about cars. I’ve driven on racetracks, in canyons and on off-road trails
However, never while filling out the requisite forms for any of these events have I been asked for my shoe size — until signing up for the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades edition drive. Ultimately, I asked why? I was pleasantly told, “For your waders.” Huh?
Ford took a handful of journalists to Drummond Island on the eastern-most edge of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to put the new Everglades model — the company’s most off-road capable version — through its paces. And despite plenty of rain before my arrival making a mess of many of the trails, not once did I need to put on my waders and get out to winch my way out of trouble — despite my best efforts a few times.
Our drive was broken down into two stages: on-road and off-road. We set out from Mackinaw City, the very top of the Lower Peninsula, and crossed the Mackinac Bridge — the 5-mile long bridge is the largest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere — into the U.P.
We took a 40-minute scenic drive along the edge of the edge of the straights of Mackinac and Lake Huron to get to the ferry that would take us over to Drummond Island and the off-road portion. The idea being to get us to understand the Bronco is more than an off-roader, it’s a daily driver with special capabilities. After a full day in the Everglades edition and a few other models, I’d say they’re right.
The standard-issue Bronco is a sight to behold. It’s nothing but squared off corners, removable doors and roof panels with big tires that screams, “Let’s go do something fun … like mess with a Wrangler.” However, the Everglades edition takes that look a few steps further with massive 37-inch tires, courtesy of the Bronco Sasquatch package, a WARN winch on the front bumper and a snorkel that allows for fording water more than three feet deep.
The difference between the standard Bronco and Everglades is like the difference between George Clooney and John Wayne. Clooney is good looking and fun to be around, but you know John Wayne talks the talk and walks the walk.
The higher riding and tricked out look of the Everglades, including the special graphics and squared front and rear wheel arches, inspires confidence for those who drive it and gives them the tools and capability to match that bravado they take with them into the cabin.
The spacious cabin offers a slew of convenience technology, including SYNC 4, but the 12-inch main touchscreen offers a bunch of information that is helpful while off-roading. The center instrument cluster does the same, especially ensuring it’s easy to see what mode you’re in and if it’s right for the situation you’re facing.
The controls for using the G.O.A.T. mode — Goes Over Any Terrain — are easy to access and simple to use: a dial on the center console. There are also other switches on the dashboard, just above the radio, that can be used to adjust the vehicle’s configuration as well. It’s a well-thought out and simple design — perfect when mud crawling.
Bronco Everglades is easy to clean after a weekend on the trails with standard marine-grade vinyl seats and rubberized washout flooring. The seats feature color-matching accents provide a subtle color touch on grab handles, air register vents and seat stitching. Not only can you simply hose out the beast, it’s comfortable.
The seats provide ample support and cushioning, which are helpful when you are occasionally tossed from one side of the vehicle to the other while traversing a rock formation or motoring through 18 inches of water that suddenly becomes 36 inches of water on one side of the Bronco and not the other.
The Everglades edition is powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost delivering 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque — the most torque from a 4-cylinder gas engine in its class, Ford says. It is paired to a class-exclusive SelectShift 10-speed automatic transmission with advanced 4×4 system and a maximum 67.8:1 crawl ratio.
For those with concerns about 4-cylinder engines powering large vehicles like this, especially since it finds its way into situations that require plenty of power and even more torque, put them aside. There wasn’t one situation, whether it was climbing rock steps at a decent incline, navigating a muddy upslope or simply driving on tarmac, this engine couldn’t handle.
Safety and Technology
In a vehicle as capable as the Bronco Everglades it’s rare that one feels like safety is an issue; however, since drivers of this vehicle are more likely to put themselves in harm’s way, it’s critical the safety technology is top notch, but simple — as is the case here.
The G.O.A.T. mode is critical to driver safety as it quickly, easily and efficiently gives drivers the opportunity to put their vehicle in the best possible setup to handle what’s in front of them. Sand, Slippery, Sport, Eco and Normal are the usual offerings, but on the Everglades edition, you also get mud and ruts as well as rock crawl.
The Mud/Ruts mode engages 4×4 lock to accommodate muddy terrains and terrains with deep ruts and the Rock Crawl mode adjusts the throttle and transmission response of the Bronco Sport in order to maximize torque in the low range and improve this compact SUV’s crawling ability at low speeds.
Most importantly, the changes that occur to the vehicle can be plainly seen on the gauge cluster, confirming what model you’re really in. Plus the G.O.A.T. also has push button setting that can be used to input the setup you want for your vehicle.
Oh. The stereo’s really good too … just in case I forgot.
The Everglades edition is a fine vehicle — for running your kids to school, dropping off prescriptions, grocery shopping, etc. However, it’s the right tool for the job if you’re looking to head off-road for a day (or days) of rock crawling, mud bogging, nerve testing fun.
I get to do plenty of interesting and exciting things in this job, but few are as enjoyable as the off-road adventures and the Bronco Everglades makes it the right amount of simple (good for me) and rugged without forcing someone to take their new Bronco to a specialty shop and spend tens of thousands of additional dollars getting something that can take on the world — before interstates … or cement for that matter.
All of that said, I have one gripe about Everglades edition and I may not have had it if not for spending a few days driving the GMC Hummer EV — and its 172 cameras that allow you to see everything around, over, under and next to you. This thing needs a camera on the bumper so you can see what you’re cresting and if you should continue going.
During a world-class lunch by a lake with all of our Broncos lined up on the shore, talks with some Ford engineers and others suggested they’d already heard the gripe and might be doing something about it in short order.
2022 Ford Bronco Everglades Edition Specifications
|L: 198.9 inches/W: 79.4 inches/H: 78.7 inches/Wheelbase: 116.1 inches
|2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder; 10-speed automatic
|18 mpg city/17 mpg highway/18 mpg combined
|300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $53,000 plus $1,495 destination and delivery; As tested: n/a
|Available this summer
The Bronco’s been a rock star since Ford reintroduced it a couple years ago. Drawing from the original design, it looks like it can handle plenty. Add in the additional technology needed to exploit its full range of capabilities without having buyers needing to go to a secondary source to make it a top-flight off-roader and you have a winning package.
Perhaps most importantly, the price isn’t crazy, starting at $53,000, plus $1,495 destination and delivery charges. The only downside is that while the new Everglades edition will be available later this summer, it’s only going to be an option for those who have put their names on the waiting list, which has been for more than a year now — everyone else will have to wait until next year.
It’s worth the wait, folks.
2022 Ford Bronco Everglades Edition — Frequently Asked Questions
How much does the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades cost?
The new go-anywhere version of the Bronco starts at $53,000 plus $1,495 destination and delivery charges.
Where are 2022 Ford Broncos built?
The rough-and-ready Bronco is built at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant, just outside of Detroit.
Does the 2022 Ford Bronco have heated seats?
Heated seats are an option, including in the Everglades edition. Turning the seats on my help dry off the marine-grade vinyl after hosing out the interior after a day traversing the trails.