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Jeep Gladiator vs. Bronco

1. Introduction

As for on-road performance, of course, it is subjective to the ride feel one prefers, whether it be a smooth car-like ride or a stiff sporty ride. But again, we will focus more on off-road capabilities. With the Bronco being referred to as the Jeep's Cherokee's biggest competitor, my goal is to give people a perspective of features offered when considering how much cheaper or more expensive it is to accomplish similar abilities. [1][2]

There's the soft-roading crowd, overland crowd, and the rock crawling crowd, also to consider towing and on-road performance. The Jeep Gladiator is rated the number five most high-performance off-road vehicle in the SUV market. So for the purpose of this particular comparison, we will focus on features which benefit more rock crawling and off-road focused dedicated.

Both the Jeep Gladiator and Ford's new Bronco are major players in the off-road arena. Imagine being on a budget and being able to buy a brand new off-road capable vehicle from two of the biggest classic names in the off-road industry. The Jeep Gladiator retails for about $33,545, and the Bronco starts at $26,660 (not including the reservation price). So today we are going to compare some of the main features included in the initial price of these vehicles. Nowadays it seems as though there are so many different categories of off-road capabilities.

2. Design and Features

The Bronco will also have mass appeal to off-road enthusiasts. The original Bronco is almost a cult icon to some and a savior to others. Bringing back the Ford Bronco is something many thought would never happen. The Bronco is based on the T6 platform; the original plan was to base it off the Ford Everest, but Ford has made it clear they want the Bronco to have its own unique identity. Pricing for the Bronco is expected to start around $30,000 in hopes to draw in Jeep customers and those interested in getting a new 4x4 and will range up to $45,000. Measures have been taken to ensure it will keep the identity of the original Bronco and use nostalgic features. A series of patent filings uncovered earlier this year suggest that the Bronco may have a removable top and doors, just like the Wrangler and Gladiator. Ford is also aiming to offer a compact and 4-door version available for purchase, similar to what Jeep did with the Wrangler. Price ranges for the Bronco and Gladiator are relatively similar, though they may offer variety in different areas for similar costs. High ground clearance and modifiability are likely to be deciding factors for both.

The Gladiator is derived from the popular Wrangler, the iconic off-roading machine and a status symbol for enthusiasts of the sport. Boasting a removable top and doors, the Gladiator will have mass appeal to those who enjoy what the Wrangler offers, as well as truck buyers looking for something a little different. The Gladiator comes with a 5-foot bed and will have a price range of around $30,000 to $60,000. It will likely appeal to buyers who find themselves considering a Toyota Tacoma or Colorado but also want the added versatility of the truck bed and the option to take off the top and/or doors. Optional packages on the Gladiator include a Trailer Tow package enabling the Gladiator to tow up to 7,650 pounds, perfect for those with an ATV, UTV, or light race car, and a Max Towing Package that includes a 4.10 axle ratio and a Class IV receiver Hitch.

The various features of the two vehicles, along with their designs, are very likely to have a big role in the decision-making process of potential buyers. Each brand counts with a breed of loyal customers, and the Gladiator and Bronco will more than likely aim to appeal to them specifically, more than attracting new customers. That being said, any new product aims to attract new customers.

2.1. Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator was released to great fanfare in 2019. It was interesting to see how Jeep's 33-inch (838mm spare-wheel-ready fender flares) biggest critic of the three trucks in the comparison, the Ford Bronco, included fender (associated with higher-end models with larger tires) fitting in its advertising campaign, and then gave the Bronco 35's (889 mm), but no factory lifts available, a mere 1 inch (25mm) over those on the Gladiator. Both the Bronco Badlands Sasquatch package and Gladiator Rubicon can specify tires. The war of one-upmanship continues on the powertrain and off-road features with the Bronco Badlands Sasquatch having a factory 4.7 final drive option and 12-inch (305mm) front brakes. The Bronco tows the line between a larger segment and off-road ability. But back to the main event, the Gladiator comes in such a unique form, a mid-size pickup truck with true low-range locking differentials and a disconnecting sway bar. These are extremely hard to come by on any 4x4 in the market, let alone an SUV or another mid-size truck rival. These creature comfort and luxury option detours options from the highly sought base model 15-inch (381mm) wheel 2-wheel drive Sport S. Now in competition with Bronco, Jeep has lowered the threshold to entry high onto the Overland, with the possibility of a basic Overland or above in the pipeline. This option will become very enticing to the casual buyer, those who don't even need a pickup but cannot resist a Jeep 4x4. However, the four-door Wrangler has been a good player in this market with a budget 20-inch wheel package. Coming back to features, the Gladiator offers two unique bed features, a three-level roll-up tonneau cover, and an under-rail bed lighting system. Although it's a simple add, the roll-up cover is exclusive to the USA and has a league of options in itself between materials, aftermarket tie-downs, and potentially rack systems for the sole purpose of mounting a rooftop tent and using the bed as a sleep quarters in a remote area. This option alone already overshadows any other 4x4 when compared to equivalent models of the same price. Under-rail lighting is a simple solution to a common problem. Any pickup owner burdened by the task of reaching into the bed to find something in the dark, or having to shine a door light into the bed that turns off with the ignition and open door, these two options are directly targeted at consumers of other trucks who simply want something more. Finally, this brings us to towing, a point often overlooked in the industry of SUVs and 4x4s. The Gladiator has a 4x4 best-in-class towing capacity. This level of 7,650 lbs (3,459 KGS) is unmatched by any Bronco model or any other off-road SUV in the same category so far. This leads us to a final verdict that the Gladiator is indeed a unique machine, something that's setting its own standards in a Jeep market primarily dominated by SUVs. [3]

2.2. Bronco

When compared to the original 66-77 Ford Broncos, the Bronco has come a long way in terms of comfort and convenience. New features like Ford Co-Pilot 360, Sync 4, and a 12" LCD touch screen will add to the already luxurious interior of the Bronco. Coming with a 10-speed automatic transmission and Advanced 4x4 with automatic on-demand engagement of 2-speed transfer case and electronic locking differentials, added with the G.O.A.T modes to adjust your vehicle's traction depending on what type of terrain you are on. This is by far the most superior off-road vehicle the Ford company has ever made. (gives Ford shout out) The Ford Bronco should stand up to its name spoken highly among 4x4 enthusiasts around the world. Carrying pride and great expectations, the Bronco will be available to the public sold in the United States by spring of 2021.

The Bronco is an off-road full-size sport utility vehicle made by Ford starting in 1966 and ending production in 1996. Now Ford reintroduces the Bronco as a rugged 4x4 utility vehicle in 2021. The all-new Ford Bronco is a big change in design when compared to the original. The Ford Bronco comes in 2 or 4 doors (no rear doors) and features removable doors and roof for an open-air experience. The new Ford Bronco will feature a fully boxed high-strength steel frame inspired by the Ford Ranger. It will be able to take a beating in rugged environments. The Bronco is said to have the best-in-class suspension travel, with an independent front suspension and available long-travel, position-sensitive Bilstein shocks with a solid axle rear setup. In addition to that, it will come with 35" off-road tires in every trim level. The new Bronco will be incorporating the best off-road technology and should stand up to its competitors.

3. Performance and Capability

There is also a 2.3-liter I4 offered in the base model of the Bronco, with 270 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque. Though an I4 engine isn't common in modern times for a vehicle the size of the Bronco, Ford has long embraced turbocharged I4 engines in many of their vehicle models. For those who wish to maximize fuel economy and do not plan on aggressive driving or towing, the Bronco may have an acceptable I4 option for horsepower and torque. The higher engine choice would be a 2.7-liter V6 with 310 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque. Based on the power-to-weight ratio of the vehicle and some good grip tires, the V6 option should yield some pretty spirited performance on and off-road. A 10-speed transmission will be shared for both V6 and I4 Broncos. Due to the low amount of gears, the engine may have to work harder to keep the Bronco moving; however, a good gear and the right amount of torque can often move a vehicle more easily than higher gear changes and less torque.

The 3.6-liter V6 offered in the base model of the Gladiator, with 285 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque, is perfect to get the Gladiator moving. The engine is tested and proven in the Jeep Wrangler, which shares the same frame. It will not be the fastest engine choice on the market; however, reliability and simple mechanics make this V6 a worthy choice of power. There will also be a 3.0 V6 Diesel offered in 2021 Gladiators. The diesel will have 260 horsepower and a large 442 foot-pounds of low-end torque. This engine choice is highly anticipated for those who wish to tow and take advantage of the Gladiator's truck bed. The Jeep Gladiator does share an 8-speed transmission.

3.1. Jeep Gladiator

Useful in all trucks in this segment, the Gladiator incorporates a 4x4 system. With the transfer case, it has 2 different 'low range' ratios. Depending on the trim model chosen, standard on all Sport and Overland is the Command-Trac part-time 2-speed transfer case providing a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio. Optional on Overland and standard on Rubicon, the Rock-Trac Heavy Duty Part-Time 4WD system gives the Gladiator a 4:1 low-range gear ratio. Paired with the front and rear Tru-Lock differentials, the Gladiator is well-equipped for heavy off-road use in low-range conditions. An off-road+ mode, standard on Rubicon, calibrates the throttle and traction control.

Built to be a workhorse, the Gladiator comes with a 3.6 V6 Pentastar engine or a 3.0 V6 EcoDiesel engine. The Pentastar will create 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This gives the Gladiator a towing capability of 7,650 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,700 pounds. With 80% of pickup truck owners towing at least once a year and a quarter having ATVs or Side by Sides, the Gladiator will suit a majority. The 3.0L EcoDiesel provides low rpm torque that is beneficial towards rock crawling and slow speed maneuvers. Although not the best in fuel efficiency, the EcoDiesel will be the engine of choice for those who wish to venture further off-road.

3.2. Bronco

The performance figure of Bronco is off the charts, and the capabilities come in spades as well, especially in terms of the two-door version with a curb weight under 4,000 pounds and a matching 4,200-pound tow rating. No stated payload rating yet, but expect it to be very competitive. The turbo four and turbo six are focused on providing grunt at low RPM, ideal for rock crawling or when using a winch to free a stuck vehicle. Drum roll for the slidey math moment... Since horsepower estimates are the most accurate when there is not a single horsepower per cubic inch difference, the estimated torque and horsepower figures for the 2.7 and 2.3 are incredibly close. For the 2.3, Bronco is estimating 300 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque, and with the 2.7, they are estimating 330 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. So let's call that 1.1 and 1.25 respectively for the EcoBoost engines. You guys didn't come here to do math, so moving on. Step cred for Bronco comes by way of a standard 4X4 system with a shift-on-the-fly two-speed transfer case. Optional packages include an Advanced 4X4 system with automatic on-demand engagement, an Off-Road mode driver assist feature which changes throttle, transmission, and stability control settings on the fly to adapt for snow, mud, and ruts, and sand. And for those wanting to push Bronco to the max, there is the available Spicer Electrified front and rear locking axles, as well as the above-mentioned Sasquatch package for ultimate off-road capability. Lastly, the Bronco line will not restrict anyone from taking their rig into the wild, as Big Bend, Black Diamond, and Badlands models are available for all Bronco configurations.

3.3. Off-Roading Abilities

The Jeep Gladiator and Bronco both have very impressive off-roading abilities that will have you going down the trails instead of staying on the road. The Jeep Gladiator is built with a 4x4 system called "Command-Trac". The "Command-Trac" system has a 2.72:1 low range gear ratio and heavy-duty third-generation Dana 44 front and rear axles. These make the Gladiator have better off-roading ability with a lower crawl speed and better torque to the wheels. The Bronco has a similar system called "Crawler Gear". These systems will allow both vehicles better off-roading abilities by giving them better control with the lower gear ratio and having more torque to the wheel. Step in with confidence. When you're setting out into the unknown, you need to be sure of every step, and the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and Bronco Badlands are the trim levels for the job. With unique features like electronic front and rear locking differentials, and a front sway bar disconnect system, Gladiator Rubicon is the most off-road capable midsize pickup truck. The Bronco also has an advanced 4x4 system with automatic on-the-fly engagement. The front differentials on both vehicles can also be locked for better grip on slippery or rocky surfaces. These features will provide better traction in low-traction environments like rock beds and muddy trails.

4. Price and Availability

The Gladiator has been on sale since the summer of 2019, and we've experienced the frustration of high prices and low availability firsthand, as we've tried to secure one for a long-term test. Among the conventional body-on-frame mid-size pickups, it is among the most expensive, and Jeep has stuck to a simplified pricing lineup with few options, investing heavily in advertising and sales incentives. For the 2021 model year, the base price has increased significantly to $38,545, up from the $33,545 starting price set at the Gladiator's introduction. This is due to a change to the base Sport trim—previously, fleet buyers and bare-bones enthusiasts could opt for the cheaper Sport S with an automatic transmission and fewer options. Now, the automatic transmission adds $2000, an additional $2700 gets the eight-speed automatic with popular equipment. Bringing the stick shift back on the base trim, getting the popular equipment, and then sticking with few selections will result in a better value than on earlier Sport S models, but there will be some sticker shock over the high depreciation on the previous low-content base trim. The whole trim ladder has seen increases and incentives are less aggressive than previous. An Overland is priced $1000 higher for 2021; it starts at $41,040 and the automatic transmission is an additional $1500. This was the best value on the 2020 with well-balanced features, and we imagine this will be the main seller for 2021.


[1] V. PUMA, "Putting CRT in context," beta.creativecirclecdn.com, . creativecirclecdn.com

[2] R. O'Bryant, D. Bearl, T. Delmond, D. Strupp, E. Trauth, "A much-needed breath," digitalcommons.unf.edu. unf.edu

[3] R. O. N. FOURNElR, "Bush or Gore?," core.ac.uk, . core.ac.uk

Jeep Gladiator vs. Ford Bronco

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