Best Bronco build-off: Our editors weigh in on their ideal SUVs

The 2021 Ford Bronco arrived and wants to take our, and your, money. In fact, it’s taking the money of our Managing Editor Aaron Cole, but the rest of our team’s living in fantasy land right now dreaming up which Bronco fits our life and trying to justify why.

From the mild base model with its steelies to the wild Wildtrak, our team runs the gamut on Bronco builds and the justification behind them. For the lake life and Guanella Pass to the trailhead and the desert, here’s how we would build and order our 2021 Ford Broncos (and 2021 Ford Bronco Sport).

 

2021 Ford Bronco Wildtrak

2021 Ford Bronco Wildtrak

Aaron Cole, Managing Editor—2021 Ford Bronco Four-door Wildtrak

I may put my money where my mouth is. A lot of it. On Monday night, I reserved a four-door Bronco Wildtrak—the first time I’ve ever reserved a new car. That’s because in the mountains of Colorado, near where I live, capable is synonymous with escapable. I daydream in wilderness treks, propelled in something toward that hard-to-reach spot on top of Guanella Pass, far away from the metro mess. Wildtrak appealed to me for its bigger engine, standard off-road hardware, and built-in active safety features. The conversation in my house centered on two- or four-doors and common sense and convenience won out; four doors because we have two dogs, I’m told. I was never that good at math.

2021 Ford Bronco Black Diamond

2021 Ford Bronco Black Diamond

Kirk Bell, Senior Editor—2021 Ford Bronco Two-door Black Diamond

For me to buy a Bronco, I’d have to commit to a hobby that, while fun, isn’t my passion: off-roading. Instead, I would, and have, reserved that money for a sports car. However, the idea of a two-door Black Diamond with the manual transmission and the Sasquatch package is pretty appealing. We don’t know the Sasquatch package’s price yet, but I imagine that model would cost about $42,000-$43,000, which makes me shudder. I’d get it in Velocity Blue, add the soft-top, and beg Ford for a white hard top. Then I’d use the damn thing like it’s meant to be used: fording rivers, climbing rocks, and bombing through the desert.

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Badlands

Joel Feder, Interactive Content Manager—2021 Ford Bronco Four-door Badlands

Unlike Cole, I don’t live by the mountains. I live by lakes in the land of more than 10,000 of them. I didn’t reserve a new Bronco and took a massive sigh of relief when the specs revealed it can only tow up to 3,500 pounds. One of our boats is 5,000 pounds wet, so no dice. Talk about dodging a $46,085-before-options-Bronco-size bullet. But if I were, I’d order a Badlands because its marine-grade vinyl interior would be perfect for easy clean out after a day with the kids on the lake while still having the creature comforts and off-road capability I’d desire for family adventures or those Minnesota winters. With two kids the number of doors was never a question.

 

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

Robert Duffer, Senior Editor, The Car Connection—2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

This is like asking what life would be like if I didn’t have kids, or if I weren’t bald, or if I were 6-feet tall. I am none of those things. I’d love to tear up old quarries turned into off-road parks, or muck through Midwestern woods, but most of my free time is spent mucking the kids to this, that, the other, and the other other. I would get the Bronco Sport Badlands with the uprated 2.0-liter turbo-4 for $34,155 and plenty of off-road capability. It’s only $500 more than the Outer Banks, which might make more sense around town based on all the convenience and comfort features. But in a few years, the kids can drive themselves in anything but my Bronco Sport.

2021 Ford Bronco base model

2021 Ford Bronco base model

Bengt Halvorson, Senior Editor, Green Car Reports—2021 Ford Bronco Four-door Base

Simple is good, and no-frills open-air truckin’ is how these cues are calling out to me—outside of perhaps a custom-configured, geared-up Bronco 2-door dune hopper. Base models include enough off-roading prowess to get me and the family out to any trailhead or launch point—at least in the pictures. I really like the steelies—possibly to be painted matte-gray to match the hardtop—and the minimalist grille and trim that skips over some of the brightwork. All with a manual transmission, of course. That’s plenty for me at around $31,000, which saves lots for annual forest passes later.

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