When you’re building a revival of an off-roading icon, and trying to introduce it to the masses, something like what Ford’s just done is more effective than the hidebound media ride-and-drive. Ford had some different ideas for its 2021 Bronco, so it hauled one of its new Bronco Badlands four-door SUVs, completely stock, to Ensenada, Mexico, where it hot-tripped its way south in the bruising NORRA Mexican 1000 rally down the spine of the Baja Peninsula, the famed off-road race whose participants last week included our pal Don Prudhomme, the drag immortal, still seeking out new motorsport conquest at age 80. When the grind was over, Ford engineers Jamie Groves and Seth Goslawski had wheeled their Bronco Badlands, unmodified except for safety equipment and decals, to third place in the Pre-Runner Truck category.
The rig completed the 1,141-mile route using the Bronco Badlands’ stock 2.7-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with Ford’s SelectShift capability. Factory equipment also included an automatic on-demand transfer case, plus the Bronco’s High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension System, built around long-travel Bilstein coilover struts, which enabled the Bronco to sail across undulations at 100 MPH and change on some stages, a scintillating prospect. The chassis underpinnings, again all factory stock, included 33-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, along with a Dana 44 AdvanTEK M220 rear axle and M210 independent front suspension, fitted with Spicer Performa-Trak electronic lockers. For Baja duty, the Bronco Badlands was retrofitted only with competition seats with safety harnesses, fire-supression gear and a full roll cage. The 2021 Bronco will be offered in seven trim themes, and you can go here to sign up for updates on the rollout.