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Ford Bronco vs. Jeep Renegade

1. Introduction

Two vehicles hit the trails and vie for the attention of the largest sport-utility market segment: the Ford Bronco and the Jeep Renegade. Both are based on somewhat smaller existing models: the Bronco II and the Cherokee for the Ford and Jeep, respectively. Jeep got the jump on the market segment in 1984 with the Cherokee and it has had the market mostly to itself since then. Recently, sales have mushroomed, with Sport-Cute (Truck-based chassis and part-time 4WD system) utes like the Isuzu Rodeo and the Toyota 4runner also getting a piece of the pie from the Adventure-Cute (Car-based chassis and a mainly full-time AWD system) segment leaders like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. According to Ford, nearly half of the 3.1 million SUVs sold in 2011 were in the compact segment, so the Blue Oval isn't the only one with eyes on the small utility prize. First, let's take a look at the Ford Bronco. Designed by Ford Australia, the new Bronco will be based on the Ford Escape platform which means it'll have car-like unibody construction. According to Derrick Kuzak, Ford's Group Vice President for Global Product Development, "We're delivering a family of global utility vehicles to customers". Given the car-based chassis of the Escape, it would seem that Kuzak is pointing to a crossover between a Renegade and an Escape. This could be a wise choice for the global market, as the compact segment is seeing cars like the new Mazda CX-5 take a share of the utility pie using a car-based design with an emphasis on better gas mileage and city safety. Ford has hinted that the new Bronco will be rated at slightly higher fuel efficiency than the Escape. A boost in fuel efficiency will be critical going forward for all SUVs in a market that's heading towards the newly proposed national standard of 54.5mpg by 2025. The Bronco and the Escape will likely coexist in the Ford vehicle lineup, despite the fact that the Escape will be moving to the new and more efficient C1 platform in a year or two. The Escape's size is fairly close to the Bronco II, as it's grown a bit from its compact crossover origins. This would suggest that the new Bronco won't be too large. On the flip side, Ford has taken notice of the demographics of Escape buyers, a large portion of which gravitate towards the older end of the Baby Boom generation. If the Bronco is meant to replace the Escape in a similar size/age demographic segment, it may not be the first choice for the off-road enthusiast looking for a small 4x4. So, it's a bit of a mystery right now of what this new global Bronco will exactly be. A Bronco for the modern-day small 4x4 enthusiasts seems too much to ask for, so we'll keep our fingers crossed for a mild off-road oriented version of the Escape.

2. Performance Comparison

Starting with their engines, the 2015 Jeep Renegade holds a 1.4L multi-air turbo engine and the 2017 Ford Bronco is expected to hold a 2.7L eco-boost. The difference here in engine size pretty much is a simple outlook on which vehicle is going to be able to tow more. The more information on the Eco-Boost from Ford states that it is known for its torque and horsepower, thinking in the lines of best-in-class towing. As Renegade sitting with a turbo engine and no specific details on HP or ingredient, one can only speculate an unknown advantage in towing capabilities at this time. Now of course the engine plays a key role in horsepower and torque, and with an educated guess, the Ford Bronco will have immense power compared to the Jeep Renegade, as this is simply a mixture of new school technology versus old rugged and outdated vehicular horsepower and torque culture. Years ago, the sports utility vehicle was intended for off-road capabilities and towing. Mileage and comfort were not even discussed, but in this modern era, many SUVs are more geared toward family-friendly trips and sports gear transport rather than actual off-road activities. This trend has only affected the Jeep brand more, pushing their off-road limits since the new release of the Jeep Trailhawk series. The Ford Bronco will be making its return between 2017, but the original intent for the new release is not to create a remodeled version of the ever-popular Ford-150 truck, but instead redo the spirit car of the original Bronco and combine the old-style build with modern rugged capability as an off-road vehicle.

2.1. Engine Power

The Ford Bronco takes the advantage here as it only has two engine options and the lower output engine of the Jeep Renegade does not provide a substantial difference in power and fuel economy. The 2.7L EcoBoost V6 has significantly more power than both of the higher output Jeep engines and has a similar fuel economy, meaning both vehicles with V6 engine options will consume similar amounts of fuel, yet have a power advantage with the Ford Bronco.

The Jeep Renegade has four different engine options, a 2.4L I4 engine with 180 hp and 175 lb-ft and a 1.3L I4 engine with eTorque system which is a system that improves fuel economy and assists the start/stop feature designed to save fuel. This engine has a similar output of approximately 177 hp and 210 lb-ft. Both of these engines have an option of four-wheel drive. The two other options are a 1.0L or 1.3L turbocharged I4 engines with 160 hp and 210 lb-ft or 177 hp and 210 lb-ft respectively, both only available with the front-wheel drive system. The lower output engine pairs with 2WD engine has an expected fuel economy of approximately 24 miles per gallon and the higher output engine with 4WD has an expected fuel economy of approximately 26 miles per gallon. Due to the various combinations between engines and 2WD/4WD, there are projected ratings from 24-26 miles per gallon between city and highway driving for combined fuel economy.

The Ford Bronco comes standard with a 2.3L EcoBoost inline-four engine capable of 270 hp and 310 lb-ft, the same as found in the current generation Ford Ranger and the Mustang. It is paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission and the option for a four-wheel drive system. A step up engine, a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft can be equipped and is only available with the four-wheel drive. Both engines come with Start-Stop system technology which shuts off the engine at common stops, for example at a stoplight, to help save fuel. The 2.3L EcoBoost has projected ratings of 21 miles per gallon for combined city and highway driving and the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 is expected to be similar.

2.2. Off-Road Capability

The Bronco, on the other hand, has been designed with off-road ability as its primary focus. It features short front and rear overhangs for steeper approach angles and improved clearance and has been built on the same platform as the ever-capable Ford Ranger. Ground clearance for the Bronco starts at 8.4 inches for standard models and improves to 11.6 inches for the Badlands edition. This clearance, coupled with a range of 29, 35, and 36.3-inch diameter tires, means the Ford is well-suited to rough terrain. With impressive stock approach angles (ca.37.2 deg) and departure angles (ca.33.1 deg), the Bronco is perfect for taking on tricky trails. The Renegade is quite simply no match for the Bronco in off-road capability, as the Ford has been designed for a segment higher and harder than what the Renegade offers.

The Jeep Renegade is available with both front and all-wheel-drive, and for the more adventurous owner, Jeep offers a Trailhawk edition that sits on All-Terrain tyres and offers better clearance for attacking off-road trails. The Trailhawk edition also features a secure 20:1 crawl ratio with the Selec-Terrain traction control system and off-road specific driving settings. The Renegade offers a solid 7.9 inches ground clearance, however, its approach and departure angles are limited by the vehicle's modest dimensions.

2.3. Towing Capacity

Both vehicles are powerful enough to get the job done. This section provides a good example of the old adage about power not equalling speed and shows the variety of definitions there are for "work". The 2.5 Jeep with the five-speed ax-4 has around 120hp at the flywheel and about 100lb-ft of torque. This is somewhat lacking for towing, as the manual for a 2000 Wrangler with the 2.5 i4 recommends against towing anything over 1000lbs. It also tells you not to use fifth gear, and if you have an automatic, do not exceed 55mph. Real helpful. The information on the 4.0L I6 is much more positive. With 180hp and 220lb-ft of torque, it can handle much more. The maximum capacity is 2000lbs with a manual and 3500lbs with an automatic, which is much more acceptable for all but the biggest of loads. However, due to the weight of the vehicle, heavy loads will still result in sluggish acceleration and poor handling. Ford adheres firmly to "there ain't no replacement for displacement". The entry-level 1st gen Bronco had a six-cylinder engine making around the same amount of power as the modern Jeep (about 110-120hp), a 289 V8 making about 200hp or 280hp, and a 302 V8 making around 205hp at worst and 365hp at best. The six-cylinder and 289 had maximum towing capabilities of 2000lbs, and the 302 had a maximum of 3500lbs. This is already much higher than the Jeep but with less power. Acceleration is a trade-off for towing capacity and strength, the 302-engined six-cylinder heavy-duty trucks being notably slow for having so much power. This results from excessive loads and too little weight on the rear wheels to give traction. So in comparison, not great. Step forward to the new Bronco, and things are much better. With 270hp and 310 lb-ft of torque in the EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder, the towing capacity is 3500lbs. And with 310hp and 400lb-ft of torque in the 2.7L V6, the towing capacity jumps to 3700lbs. This is much higher than the loadability and power required for comfortable towing, so plenty of extra reserves for towing even the heaviest of loads over rough terrain. So Ford is the clear winner here. High towing capacities and cheap purchase prices make older Broncos very attractive for vehicles to do dirty work with, and the new Bronco is not too shabby either.

3. Features and Technology

The most evident difference between the Bronco and the Renegade is in their infotainment systems. In the Bronco, a 4.2-inch LCD screen is the main display that buyers will use. For any audio system, buttons and settings will be operated through this LCD screen. The stereo system is average, using six speakers with an option for a subwoofer and additional seven premium speakers. An HD radio, MP3 capability, and satellite radio are included in the system. There is also an option to obtain voice-activated navigation. Although not terrible, the system is definitely subpar compared to the Jeep's Uconnect system. The Uconnect 4 system offers a 7-inch display screen or more, with an option for touchscreen capability on some models. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and integrated voice command make controlling the system much easier and versatile compared to the Bronco system. The Uconnect 4 system also includes Bluetooth, HD radio, and six speakers and an option for more along with a subwoofer. This point is best proven when comparing the top of the line models for both vehicles. A base model Bronco at its best comes with an 8-inch LCD touchscreen, whereas a base model Jeep Rubicon comes with an 8.4-inch touchscreen as well as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Overall, the Bronco's system is simple and outdated, whereas the Jeep system is modern and user-friendly.

3.1. Infotainment System

The Bronco comes with either the base 4.2-inch screen or optional 8-inch and 12-inch touchscreens. The Jeep only offers the 7 or 8 inch touchscreens and the 7 inch screen does not come with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Both sellers have many features such as turn by turn navigation, can connect to your phone for hands-free dialing and media connection. Both have informational screens for vehicle diagnostics, although the Bronco screen is slightly more in-depth and can assist in off-road turn-by-turn navigation. The Renegade's screen is a bit more visually helpful. The Renegade has a trial of SiriusXM Guardian, which allows control of the vehicle through phone and voice, and a one-year trial of SiriusXM radio, including Pandora. The Bronco has SiriusXM radio with a 3-month trial. The Bronco's optional B&O stereo system has 10 speakers compared to the Beats audio system provided in the Renegade. Sound quality will be decided through personal preference of sound style. The Renegade offers a standard 6 radio speakers.

3.2. Safety Features

The Ford Bronco has not been rated for safety standards as of yet, as they have not been able to test the vehicle to see how it stands up against the competition. The Jeep Renegade, on the other hand, has been tested by leading crash test organizations and has scored very decently compared to models that have been around for centuries. From these extensive tests, they have shown that the Renegade will most likely hold up very well in crashes and probably out against the competition. Using the vehicle itself as a safety feature, Jeep has added many functions that will aid in not getting yourself in a crash situation. Rearview cameras and lane assist features will help maximize the safety of the passengers within the vehicle. This makes tough competition against the Ford Bronco as Jeep has put safety as a top priority. With the Bronco yet to be tested, it can be a safety gamble on which vehicle will be superior.

3.3. Interior Comfort

Interior comfort is at the forefront of the Ford Bronco design, whereas the Jeep puts more focus on off-road/performance features. Making your ride more pleasurable and comfortable will cause less fatigue. The less aggressive angles give the Bronco more headroom for its occupants and a heftier cabin. The Jeep, on the other hand, is equipped with more washable materials and drain plugs throughout the cabin. The more vertical windshield also allows the Bronco more room to load cargo on top of the dash or with a storage tray. In terms of seating comfort, the Bronco is focused on quality and a mix of leather and vinyl in most trims, whereas the Jeep Renegade is sticking with cloth seats and offering leather as an option. The Renegade has also been limited in terms of backseat space and functionality with the roll cage in the Trailhawk models. A surprising interior touch by Ford was seen in the bolt-on grab handles for the doors of the Bronco, a detail that serves as a very useful tool on bumpy rides for passengers. Overall, the Jeep offers a more utilitarian feel with its small body and interior design. It is comfortable in its ability to be simple but lacks some key comforts of today's modern vehicles. The Bronco has successfully balanced classic styling and modern comforts to make it more appealing to a wider array of vehicle shoppers.

3.4. Exterior Design

Styling – It's love it or hate it with both of these. The square and boxy aesthetic is unmistakably rugged, but plenty find the Renegade to be a halfhearted and awkward Jeep homage. The Ford Bronco, on the other hand, nails it as a modernized and sleek representation of the classic Bronco. Inspired by the first generation, it doesn't try too hard like recent renditions of Mustangs and Camaros. Special shout out to both vehicles' rear-ends and storage solutions. The Bronco sports a swing-out rear door and external spare tire mounts, a fantastic and convenient truck-like feature that's rarely seen in an SUV. The Renegade too has an interesting setup with a class-exclusive dual-pane roof. Though it's strictly a Jeep and not a Wrangler feature, it exceeds the MySky system available in the larger Jeep Cherokee in providing more natural light and a less claustrophobic weather point.

The future Ford Bronco 4x4 and current Jeep Renegade are poised to duke it out in a major way. Here we compare the styling and functionality of these subcompact utilities, both promised to those with active outdoor lifestyles. This should be fun.

4. Price and Value

The elephant in the room is the unfortunate fact that COVID-19 has taken a lot of buying power out of the younger generation that would certainly be Ford's target demographic, so it's going to be a tough sell to try to get people to dive into an SUV that costs nearly 40K. But Ford anticipates the off-roader market will continue to grow, and they don't expect to sell a ton of the base models. Allen said they are not concerned about the relatively poor MPG the Bronco gets and isn't too worried about people comparing it to the Escape because they believe that if marketed correctly, customers will see this as a rugged more valuable vehicle. "Resale value is where we can kill them. A typical Ford vehicle has the best-in-class resale value, Broncos traditionally have had the best-in-class resale value, the Wrangler has the best-in-class resale value, and these types of vehicles that are able to go off-road and beat around and come back in one piece they do hold a better value." This is definitely true, and the Wrangler has held the highest resale value of any vehicle in the U.S for the last few years, coming in at around 60%. Depending on how Bronco is received, this rivalry could really heat up.

Jeep's success is largely due to the fact that their vehicles are one of the few left that are truly off-road capable but can still be daily drivers, and later on down the line can sell for a decent price. This sentiment is what is driving buyers to Ford, and what Ford is greatly counting on. During Bronco's development, Joe Lathrop, the vehicle's consumer marketing manager, was driving around a Jeep as Hogan was stalking him with a video camera asking him why he thought they're trying to imitate a Wrangler. After showing footage of a loaded and ill-fated Escape doing some light off-roading, Lathrop responded with "Who we're going after are Jeep Wrangler customers who value off-road capability but want a vehicle that's more usable as a daily and has comfort and technology features. That's the key price customer that we're after."

For reference, a base 2-door Jeep Wrangler Sport with no optional equipment starts at $28,295 with a $1,495 destination charge. However, it doesn't come with any advanced driver safety features or even power windows, so the vehicles are pretty evenly matched in terms of pricing. The Bronco Big Bend is a slightly better deal by comparison; it's priced the same as a Sport S, but the Bronco comes with more off-road equipment and tech, so you get more for your money. The top-end Wrangler Sahara is a direct competitor with the Bronco Outer Banks, despite being nearly $3,000 more expensive. The Overland is closer in price but still a bit more at $39,520, and the Rubicon is $41,380. Wrangler also has a wide range of trims between these models, often separated by only a few hundred dollars, so pricing can get a bit confusing. Overall though, the cost of a similarly equipped Wrangler and Bronco are pretty dead even, and the Wrangler has a long history of having good resale value, so this is a strong starting point for the second coming of the Ford off-road icon.

Ford is going to offer the 2021 Bronco in basically three flavors: base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks. The base comes with all the important off-road equipment like the Sasquatch package, locking diffs, and all-terrain tires. The Big Bend comes with more creature comforts and some extra features, while the Outer Banks is geared towards being more upscale with a focus on aesthetics and will come with more features. Price-wise, the base 2-door starts at $28,500 with a $1,495 destination charge and goes all the way up to $42,095 for the 4-door Outer Banks. Now, if you can actually find one of these at a dealership and they aren't trying to mark it up to an obscene level, this isn't a bad deal considering it's what a new Wrangler costs.

4.1. Base Price

The base price for the Ford Bronco is almost $2000 more expensive than that of the Jeep Renegade, approximately $21,000 compared to about $19,000. Both vehicles come with a basic warranty. The Bronco’s warranty is for 3 years or 36,000 miles, while the Renegade comes with a 4 years or 50,000 miles warranty. The basic warranty is slightly above average for vehicles in the Bronco’s price range, but below average for vehicles in the Renegade's price range. The differences in base price and basic warranties do not necessarily reflect a difference in base value. Although the Renegade does come with a lower base price and a better than average warranty, it also comes with below average reliability, fuel economy, and low acceleration, which result in low scores in both initial quality and overall quality. A vehicle’s quality is usually a direct reflection of its base price and warranty; this is not the case with the Renegade. The Bronco, on the other hand, comes with higher than average reliability, excellent acceleration, and good initial quality. The overall expected quality of the Bronco is likely much higher than the quality portrayed by the base price and basic warranty.

4.2. Optional Packages

The Jeep Renegade offers two optional packages to add features that are not available on its models otherwise. The Jeep Active Drive is a premium feature for all Latitude and Limited Renegade models, adding more capabilities to off-roading. The package is a full-time 4x4 drivetrain system and is readily available for purchase on the Sport model. The starting price for the Sport 4x4 Active Drive system is about $23,000, which is $2,500 more than the Sport model without Active Drive. The price increases when it is necessary to combine the Active Drive system with the other added feature of a premium equipped group, but it is still reasonable for adding 4x4 capabilities on top of other features. The My Sky open air roof system is the other package available and has readily available pricing for Sport and Latitude models. The feature is essentially a removable dual roof panel system available in both manual and power operational modes. It is the perfect option for those who are driving a Jeep vehicle for added experience of an outdoor feel during fair weather conditions. The My Sky system has a decent price ranging from $1,400 to $1,700. Although slightly expensive, it is still perfect for the added experience of open air driving.

4.3. Resale Value

The Ford Bronco Sport is a brand new vehicle in 2021, so it is difficult to predict its resale value. Generally, new models tend to lose more value in the first year. Considering the Bronco's affordability and off-roading capabilities, it should have a decent resale value when compared to other cars in its class. This is because vehicles intended for off-roading have a different depreciation curve compared to standard cars and trucks. They tend to have higher or lower resale values with longer ownership lengths, mostly depending on how well they hold up for their intended purpose. High resale values are generally held by vehicles that have good longevity when used for their intended purpose. This includes great performance in harsh conditions, long-term durability, and availability for continuous maintenance and repair. If the new Bronco can live up to its classic first-generation model in these qualities, its resale value should be quite favorable.

Jeep vehicles are well known for their outstanding resale value. The Jeep Renegade holds its value extremely well. According to KBB, it is predicted that, based on national data, the Jeep Renegade should maintain 30% of its MSRP at 5 years and 28% of its MSRP at 7 years. The reasons for the Renegade holding value are its brand recognition, reputation for longevity, and off-road capabilities. The Renegade has all of the qualities of a typical Jeep. Its ability to be a city vehicle and to be a safe, durable SUV for outdoor activities make it a very versatile vehicle that appeals to a large target market. The opinion on the Renegade's resale may be more positive in the future, hopefully surpassing the data that was predicted. Jeep just announced a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version of the Jeep Renegade. With aggressive pricing starting at $25,000 after a federal tax credit, this is sure to be a popular option for buyers who want a fuel-efficient Jeep.

Ford Bronco vs. Jeep Renegade

The Ford Bronco and Jeep Renegade both offer unique off-road capabilities and distinctive styles that cater to adventure enthusiasts. Compare their performance, features, and more to see which might be right for your off-road adventures.

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