Wow, time sure flies when you’re having fun! We’ve already plowed through just over 10,000 miles on our long-term Bronco, and it hasn’t slowed down yet. It’s gone on numerous road trips, went off-roading on both dirt and dunes, and even helped to deliver some Meals on Wheels over the Christmas holiday. It’s also spent plenty of time around town and on the freeway, and the ease of switching between two- and four-wheel drive is making it effortless to navigate Michigan’s ever-changing wintry conditions.
While the Bronco continues to be a staff favorite, we can always find something to make a fuss about. One sticking point continues to be the abundant road noise. Someone asked a staffer who was on the phone using Apple CarPlay if he was in a wind tunnel. The noise serves as a constant reminder that we fell flat by not adding a headliner, which is a no-cost option. Technical editor Mike Sutton proclaimed, “I hope whoever decided we should not get the insulated headliner takes this on a road trip so they can see the folly in that call.” Don’t worry, Mike, we’ve started looking into aftermarket-install headliners and will report back to everyone soon.
Another area of discussion has been the manual transmission. Even though we chose it, we aren’t quite sure how to feel about it now. Editor-in-chief Tony Quiroga griped that the gearbox feels “plasticky and vague while shifting,” but he nonetheless found joy in trying to work it like a sports car. The noisy interior makes it hard to hear the engine, so typically, we’d rely on the tach to help us time our shifts. The Bronco’s digital tachometer, however, is small and difficult to read, particularly as it’s too similar to the fuel-level indicator. Deputy video editor Carlos Lago opined that “the shifter feels good, but the engine is so isolated from the cabin that shifting isn’t as satisfying as it should be.” On one hand, the lever’s long throws and nonchalant engagement pair well with the Bronco’s retro vibes. On the other, that makes shifting kind of a chore, especially in urban areas where constant shifting is necessary. When you’re looking to pass or accelerate, the Bronco often requires a downshift to “muster reliable passing power at highway speeds,” noted senior editor Eric Stafford.
Once winter arrived, we replaced the Bronco’s Goodyear Territory MT L315/70R-17 all-terrain tires with Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT3 (non-studded) LT315/70R-17s. Sutton concluded that the “winter tires actually improve the road manners and noise levels.” After we installed the Nokians in the C/D garage, the Bronco went to the dealer for its first regularly scheduled service, which included an oil change and tire rotation. Per the owner’s manual, the tire rotation included the spare tire, but the service techs failed to notice the spare tire didn’t match the rest, leaving us with mismatched tires and a Nokian as the spare. They also did not fully tighten the new spare tire, something Stafford had to do while stopping for fuel on a road trip. After he returned the Bronco, we put the Goodyear spare back in its place and all four Nokians on the ground.
Stafford also experienced another issue. More than once, the digital fuel gauge temporarily did not show that the Bronco was full after he refueled it. The first time it happened, the fuel gauge did not move from its half-full position and didn’t reset until the following morning. This happened one other time during his road trip, and while the fuel gauge eventually updated, it was concerning given that gas stations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula can be few and far between.
As much as we love our long-term Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwings, BMW M3, and Porsche 718 Cayman GTS, the Bronco has proven even more often requested by C/D staffers. Lago declared: “This thing rules! It made driving in the snow fun and adventurous instead of stressful and nerve-racking.” Sutton maintains that “the timelessly cool design remains one of the Bronco’s greatest strengths.” Stafford’s overall impression is that the Bronco’s ride and handling, roomier interior, and modern features make it a better choice for daily use than the Jeep Wrangler. We still have a lot of miles to cover with the Bronco and intend to use it in all types of terrain. Maybe we can even get testing director Dave VanderWerp to jump this Bronco in sand dunes like he did the First Edition back in July 2021 . . . Dave?
Months in Fleet: 5 months Current Mileage: 13,236 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 15 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 20.8 gal Observed Fuel Range: 310 miles
Service: $72 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
It was with arms wide open that we welcomed a 2022 Ford Bronco Badlands Sasquatch for a 40,000-mile test. To say we were excited for it to arrive is an understatement. After the Bronco beat the Jeep Wrangler in a comparison test, we were sure it would make for a worthy addition to our long-term fleet. Really, the minute Ford decided to bring the Bronco back for 2021 we were filled with nostalgia and knew we would want to get our greasy paws all over that thing. It’s just a badass off-roading beast that we can take to the Michigan sand dunes and one that will help us get through our long, cold, snowy winter.
In spec’ing our Bronco, we went with what we thought were some obvious choices. We opted for the four-door model for its extra utility. We also decided to go with the seven-speed manual transmission because, well, we love shifting through those gears ourselves (save the manuals!). With that seven-speed manual comes a lower crawl gear for when you want to do some serious off-roading and need that ultrashort gearing to traverse the terrain. We also went with the Badlands trim, which is one step lower than the Wildtrak near the top of the hierarchy; it adds Bilstein position-sensitive dampers and front anti-roll bar disconnect. That gave our Bronco a base price of $48,185, versus $39,475 for the absolutely cheapest way to get a four-door with a manual transmission (Big Bend trim). If we had stuck with that base Badlands, we would have ended up with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, 33-inch tires, and 17-inch gray-painted aluminum wheels. We decided to add the High Package for an additional $2790, which most notably gave us heated front seats, a 12.0-inch touchscreen, a 360-degree-view camera, and a rear camera mirror. Additionally, we tacked on the Sasquatch package for $4090. The Sasquatch package added 35-inch tires, electronic-locking front and rear differentials, and 17-inch beadlock high-gloss black aluminum wheels. To cap it all off we opted for a hard top in gray ($695), a towing package ($595), a modular front bumper with tow hooks ($575), a cargo-area protector ($120), and all-weather floor mats ($160).
After completing the break-in procedure in the owner’s manual, which nonspecifically says to avoid aggressive or high-speed driving, heavy braking, and towing for the first 1000 miles, we laid into it with our initial instrumented testing. The base engine, a 300-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four, powers our Bronco. It delivered a 60-mph time of 7.4 seconds—the Bronco Raptor did it almost two seconds faster at 5.6. That’s also nearly a second slower than another Bronco four-cylinder automatic, which benefits from a brake-torque launch. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort, however, as launches with our manual-trans Bronco started with a redline clutch dump. Our long-termer pulled 0.70 g on the skidpad and came to a halt from 70 mph in 204 feet. This Bronco weighed in at 5073 pounds, making it one of the lighter four-door examples we’ve tested (the Raptor, at 5764 pounds, was the heaviest).
So far the biggest downside to our Bronco is both the wind and interior noise when driving on the highway. With our High package and hard-top option, we got the Marine-grade vinyl seats, and with those seats and our Badlands trim level, a sound-deadening headliner is not automatically included. We could have added it at no cost, but we didn’t, and now we’re wishing we had.
Marc Urbano|Car and Driver
That aside, we look forward to having all sorts of fun with this Bronco over its 40,000 miles with us. Be sure to check back to see where we go and what we do with this awesome off-roading machine.
Months in Fleet: 3 months Current Mileage: 6699 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 16 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 20.8 gal Observed Fuel Range: 330 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
2022 Ford Bronco 4-Door Badlands
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $48,185/$57,210
Options: Sasquatch package (17-inch mud-terrain tires and beadlock-capable wheels, 4.7 rear-axle ratio, front and rear locking differentials), $4090; High package (12-inch touchscreen, front heated seats, dual-zone climate control, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking), $2790; hard top, $695; tow package, $595; heavy-duty front bumper, $575; all-weather floor mats, $160; cargo mat, $120
Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 138 in3, 2264 cm3
Power: 300 hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
Suspension, F/R: control arms/live axle
Brakes, F/R: 12.2-in vented disc/12.1-in vented disc
OE Tires: Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT
LT315/70R-17 113/110S M+S
Winter Tires: Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT3 (non-studded)
Wheelbase: 116.1 in
Length: 190.5 in
Width: 76.3 in
Height: 75.3 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 58/48 ft3
Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 78/36 ft3
Curb Weight: 5073 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS: NEW
60 mph: 7.4 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.9 sec @ 84 mph
100 mph: 28.4 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 8.9 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 37.7 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 17.9 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 100 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 204 ft
Roadholding, 00-ft Skidpad: 0.70 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 15 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 19 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 390 mi
Unscheduled Oil Additions: 0 qt
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 17/16/17 mpg
3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper
5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
5 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection
3 years/36,000 miles roadside assistance
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED