DETROIT -- As I listened to the Bronco brain trust outline highlights of Ford's upcoming off-roader, I could practically hear Jeep Wrangler strategists slapping their heads: 'Why didn't we think of that?'
Because they didn't have to. The Wrangler, direct descendant of nearly 80 years of vehicles with great off-road ability, doesn't have anything to prove.
The 2021 Ford Bronco, due to go on sale next spring, does. It's heir to a modest tradition of quirky and customizable pickups and SUVs Ford built from 1966 to '96. Most drivers have never seen one on the road. The Wrangler, with image-building predecessors all the way back to the World War II Willys Jeep, is ubiquitous on American roads, trails and in film, TV and streaming around the world.
Wranglers have a loyal, built-in audience. The Bronco needs to create passion for a family of SUVs, inspiring buyers to choose a nameplate they may never have heard of.
It needs to be so head-slappingly innovative and good that owners will dedicate themselves to proving they're smarter and better than Jeep drivers they never gave much thought to before they became Bronco-nistas.
That's why Ford's best and brightest pulled out all the stops, from a rail to mount GoPros and iPhones to onboard space to store the Bronco's removable doors.
On paper, the results looks good. Here's some of what the Bronco team did.
Power, new ideas in running gear
-- Standard Bronco four-wheel drive, though a rear-drive model will probably follow in a few years
-- Torque vectoring to reduce turning radius by cutting power to the inside wheel in tight spots