On the weekend we wheel. We abuse our rigs with rocks, mud, sand, snow, and water. We load up the cooler, load up the family, and check out from the rat race. But all of it comes at a price. Quite literally, someone has to pay for all of the fun. For most of us, that means that the same 4×4 mountain goat we enjoy for off-road recreation still has to get us to work reliably Monday through Friday, not to mention the grocery store, t-ball practice, and the occasional road trip. So for those looking for the ideal daily driver 4×4 adventure vehicle, this is for you.
Choosing the best off-road capable family truckster used to be an easy call. The Jeep Wrangler has been the go-to since the introduction of the JK Unlimited in 2007. Ford, however, put the Wrangler directly in its sites when it revitalized the legendary Bronco platform in 2021. The decision became a bit more challenging. Now we can legitimately have a Bronco versus Wrangler comparison shootout to determine the very best option for your needs. Traditional and tough styling with both trucks, along with a phone book full of options, trim levels, and add-ons, both the Ford Bronco and the current model JLU Wrangler are about as cool as you can get.
Bronco Versus Wrangler Comparison: Cargo Capacity
As any of us with children and pets know, you can’t have enough space for all the stuff. In the hardtop four-door models, the Ford Bronco has 35.6 cubic feet of storage space, while the Jeep has 31.7 cubic feet. Nearly 4 cubic feet of difference could mean there is room for your favorite pet and child to tag along. If you have to leave one behind, which one gets the boot and stays home on the next adventure?
So when it comes to luggage, coolers, pat carriers, and sports equipment, the edge for overall cargo space goes to the Bronco.
Bronco Versus Wrangler Comparison: Driver And Passenger Comfort
If you’re the lucky parent of gangly teenagers, headroom and legroom start to become important. The total rear-seat headroom of the Bronco is 40.1 inches, and the legroom is 36.3 inches. The Jeep’s headroom is 42.6 inches and the legroom is 38.2 inches. For passenger comfort, every inch is important.
But what about the driver? What about you? Isn’t driver comfort the absolute most important thing on any family road trip? From the captain’s chair and shotgun position, headroom on the Bronco is 41.0 inches while the Jeep measures out at 42.8 inches. Legroom is a similar story with the Bronco at 43.1 inches and the Jeep at 41.2 inches. Again, every inch is important when considering passenger comfort. In the Bronco versus Wrangler comparison, driver and passenger comfort are very similar but lean towards the Jeep.
The 9-5 Commute
Ford was absolutely gunning to eat up the Jeep Wrangler marketplace with the reintroduction of the iconic Bronco. Where the Bronco really shines is the more powerful drivetrain and better fuel mileage. Of course, if you need more power, both Jeep and Ford have that department covered with the 392 Wrangler and Bronco Raptor. If you desire extended fuel mileage, the 4XE Wrangler is the answer.
If hauling is a major concern, the Gladiator is ideal for hauling a reasonable payload. The Jeep truck is just as capable as the JK in most situations, with the only limitation being the longer wheelbase and departure overhang. Don’t be surprised when Ford shows up with a Bronco “Gladiator” variant.
Bronco Verses Wrangler Comparison: Where It Really Counts
While cup holders and heated seats make the daily drive more comfortable and bearable, the comforts are second to being able to send it out on the trail. When talking about pure off-road capabilities, both the Jeep and the Ford have very capable systems from the stock platform.
Jeep offers the Command-Trac, and the Rock-Trac 4×4 systems, with the Rock-Trac standard on all Rubicons. Features such as sway bar disconnects, an NV241 transfer case, and front and rear locking Dana 44 axles make the Rock-Trac both stout and practical. With a 4.0:1 low range, and a 73.1:1 crawl ratio, the Rubicon proudly reminds the driver of the heritage behind the Jeep badging.
Ford brings the tech with the Bronco and throws a lot of system names around when flaunting its’ off-road capability. AdvanceTrac and the acronyms HOSS and GOAT offer electronic vehicle assists and contain a lot of buzzwords, but what does it really mean? With seven different models ranging from the Base to the First Edition, there is a lot to decipher. Luckily we have this chart below that presents what comes with and what is available on what package and model.
Ford Bronco Chops
The one thing to note is if you want a true off-roader from the factory, go with the Sasquatach package. If you are keen on going bad mad with aftermarket options, consider your comfort level requirements and go from there. Speaking of comfort, we got to test drive a completely stock Badlands Bronco on an off-road adventure to Sedona, Arizona. The unmodified vehicle impressed with advanced 4×4 features such as Trail Control, Trail Turn Assist, and the Trail One-Pedal driving.
The Ford Bronco is stacked with impressive equipment like available Bilstein Shocks and BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires. Electronic lockers are available for both front and rear axles, but they can also be had through Eaton Elockes as well. The vehicle low range bottoms out at 2.72:1 with an incredibly low crawl range of 94.75:1.
Ford has beaten Jeep at their own game when it comes to the effortless crawl capabilities that have been with Jeep since you had to wear a uniform to drive one. However, Jeep knows its customers and points out true neutral for flat towing in its features list. Many of these new Jeeps will spend their highway miles behind a motor coach with a rear window sticker; “please be patient, I’m pushing a very large vehicle”.
One thing to consider for both vehicles is the massive aftermarket accessory parts market available. With an unlimited supply of wheels, tires, lifts, light bars, sound bars, minibars, seats, superchargers, eLockers, and tuners, it is astounding. Personalizing for personality and comfort is both attainable and user-friendly.
At the end of the day, there is no wrong answer between these two vehicles. In our opinion, Ford looked long and hard at the Jeep JL platform and did what they thought was best to build a better Bronco that could outsell the Wrangler. We also believe the Bronco platform will never replace the classic and legendary Jeep 4×4. Well, unless Stellantis does something seriously unhinged to completely neuter the Wrangler with say, independent front suspension. Just pick a vehicle, take them both for a test drive, make it yours, and hit the trails.