It has been over a 12 months since I pieced collectively a Ford Bronco speculative suspension deep dive utilizing preliminary specs, comparisons to the overseas-market Ranger Raptor, and teaser images of a unadorned chassis. Right now the specs are extra full, and I’ve been capable of lay my palms on the true factor for a better look in my very own driveway. The 2-door physique could also be bolted in place this time, however I’ll take that as a result of I’m capable of take away the tires and poke round beneath.
This Bronco is a two-door First Version, a 2021 trim stage that is bought out. You’ll be able to mainly ignore that truth, as a result of all the things it included will be nonetheless discovered on the 2022 Ford Bronco Badlands. Importantly, it additionally has all the things we’d care to take a look at so far as a suspension deep dive is anxious, plus extra. It had the stabilizer bar disconnect mechanism shared with the Badlands, locking entrance and rear differentials which might be frequent to the Badlands and the Wildtrak, and the Sasquatch mixture of HOSS Bilstein dampers and 35-inch tires that comes normal on Wildtrak and will be added to any trim as an possibility.
The Bronco I desire is the Badlands, which has all the things we’ll see right here, however with 33-inch tires paired with a longer-travel set of HOSS Bilstein dampers. The explanation? The 33s don’t stuff the wheel wells as a lot as this 35-inch rubber, and in consequence, they permit for better flex and articulation. This setup, with the 35s, managed a 648-point most Flex Index rating on my RTI ramp (see video above), however a Badlands with out Sasquatch would do even higher.
Many of the Bronco vs Wrangler trash discuss facilities on the Bronco’s use of impartial entrance suspension. Jeep folks will say, “Stable entrance axles flex extra.” They’re not mistaken, however stable axles don’t journey easily or steer precisely once you’re not off-roading, they usually’re not almost as settled on washboard filth roads. Until the necessity for optimum articulation enters the body, impartial entrance suspension and the decrease unsprung mass that comes with it may be a greater solution to go if that suspension affords respectable floor clearance and a wholesome quantity of journey.
The suspension we see right here will not be a direct carryover from the North American Ford Ranger pickup we all know. As an alternative it comes from the Ranger Raptor bought in Australia, Europe and different elements of the world. Because the Raptor title implies, it’s a wide-track, long-travel impartial entrance suspension. Rumors of a U.S. Bronco Raptor will little doubt construct up from what we’ll see right here.
It’s clearly a double wishbone entrance suspension, with higher (yellow) and decrease (inexperienced) wishbones product of aluminum, and a steering knuckle (crimson) that’s product of metal. This mix is a direct reverse of the North American Ranger pickup, which makes use of metal arms and an aluminum knuckle.
The entrance bump cease (yellow) is a urethane bumper that sits on the high finish of the coil-over spring and damper meeting. Ford makes use of this design as an alternative of the frame-mounted bump-stops we’re used to seeing on a Tacoma or 4Runner as a result of it offers them better freedom to tweak the obtainable suspension journey utilizing bolt-on elements.
The aluminum higher management arm (inexperienced) is canted downward towards the again to generate a useful dose of anti-dive geometry, and the ball joint is ready far again to assist generate a wholesome dose of caster. Past that, the ball-joint appears to be held in place with a circlip that ought to enable for simple adjustments or aftermarket upgrades.
When in place, the tire barely hides the higher ball joint that’s simply peeking into this image. We’re not seeing the acute high-mount design favored by Toyota, however the entrance knuckle (crimson) continues to be fairly tall, a transfer that reduces higher ball-joint and wishbone bushing masses by rising the vertical separation distance from the tire contact patch on the floor.
This view additionally makes it clear that the Bronco has the sort of front-steer rack placement (yellow) we count on to see when an engine is mounted lengthwise, and why the house occupied by the rack-and-pinion steering linkage forces the brake caliper (inexperienced) to occupy the unused house on the alternative facet.
You could have questioned how heavy that metal knuckle (yellow) was going to be, however it’s really hole. We’re additionally getting our first glimpse of how the Bilstein HOSS dampers bolt to the decrease wishbone by way of a decrease bushing (inexperienced) with a molded-in tie-bar. These dampers have piggyback distant reservoirs (crimson), and if we may peer inside we’d see stiffer end-travel damping zones on the excessive high and backside ends of the shock to protect towards topping and bottoming.
The decrease wishbone and knuckle have protuberances (yellow) that work collectively as a steering restrict cease to maintain the steering rack from loading up towards its inside end-stop. The opposite factor to note is how the knuckle’s thickness is regionally optimized (inexperienced) to save lots of additional weight past what they’ve achieved by making the higher part hole.
Every leg of the wishbone has eccentric cams (yellow) that enable for caster and camber adjustment, and additional out we will see the nuts (inexperienced) that maintain the damper in place. In the meantime, the stabilizer bar end-link (crimson) connects to the rear leg of the wishbone.
The stabilizer linkage connects to a weird-looking stabilizer bar arm (yellow). We’re used to seeing stabilizer bars made out of a easy bent piece of round-stock, however this one consists of a blade that’s bolted (inexperienced) and listed to a separate crosspiece, as you would possibly see in a racecar.
That crosspiece incorporates the First Version and Badlands’ stabilizer bar disconnect mechanism (yellow), which is each hidden and guarded by a stout bash plate. I slightly doubt we’d see this bolt-on arm building on Broncos that lack the stabilizer bar disconnect, however their single-piece fastened bars would mount to the identical bushing places.
It’s lots simpler to see the works with the bash plate eliminated. The enterprise finish of the bar consists of two halves (inexperienced) that meet inside a hydraulic coupling mechanism (yellow) that may be disconnected below load. This represents an enormous benefit over the Wrangler’s mechanism, which might solely be operated on flat floor in no-load circumstances.
The Ford unit will be disengaged in H4 or L4 drive modes, and it’ll mechanically reconnect in case your velocity will increase to the purpose the place the bar is required for security. However it doesn’t swap absolutely off at such occasions – it as an alternative goes right into a standby mode that waits to mechanically disengage once more when your velocity drops beneath the brink.
The diameter of the brake rotors (yellow) is pretty modest as a result of the bottom Bronco comes with 16-inch wheels. However the rotors make up for this by being fairly thick, which provides them a variety of thermal mass. The calipers themselves are pretty beefy twin-piston (inexperienced) sliding items with sizable brake pads.
From right here, the rear suspension appears incomplete. It’s a five-link solid-axle setup, however we will solely make out the decrease trailing hyperlink (yellow).
The coli-over spring and shock meeting bolts right into a closely strengthened pocket (yellow) that’s included into the body rail.
The coil spring itself employs a dual-rate design, however the preliminary fee is ready as much as collapse absolutely (yellow) when the automobile is sitting on the bottom. For all intents and functions, the principle working space of the spring seems to be a linear fee – until there are refined wire diameter variations that aren’t instantly apparent.
Right here the suspension is absolutely unloaded on my Flex Index ramp, and you’ll see how that preliminary part has opened up. Its predominant objective is to maintain the spring seated at full droop, very like the skinny tender springs you usually see on the high of racing coil-overs.
This view additionally offers us a sneak-peek on the urethane bump cease (yellow) that sits on the high finish of the coil-over meeting. Just like the entrance, the Bronco completely employs shock-mounted bump stops. You gained’t see a stopper that registers on the stable axle housing itself.
You must crawl beneath fairly far to get view of the higher tailing hyperlink (yellow), however it’s there.
The higher hyperlink’s axle attachment bracket (yellow) is canted ahead. That becoming simply outdoors (inexperienced) is an axle breather tube that wends its method upwards to maintain water out of the differential housing at most fording depth.
At first I assumed the rear hyperlink bracketry was low and susceptible, however it’s actually not any decrease than the gasoline tank skid plate (yellow) within the background. In the meantime, the piggyback-style distant reservoir (inexperienced) on the rear Bilstien damper is protected by an impact-resistant stone guard.
We will account for 4 of the 5 hyperlinks as a result of we’ve seen the higher and decrease trailing hyperlinks, and there are two per facet. This Panhard bar (aka monitor rod) is quantity 5. Its fastened finish (yellow) attaches to a bracket that’s welded to the body, whereas the shifting finish (inexperienced) is bolted to a bracket on the axle housing. It’s about so long as it may be within the obtainable house, and it sits almost stage when the automobile is on the bottom. Each techniques are obligatory to reduce the quantity of left-right axle shifting that will in any other case happen because the bar swings by way of an arc because the suspension strikes up and down.
The opposite factor to note here’s what you’re not seeing: a rear stabilizer bar. The Bronco doesn’t have one. Effectively, this two-door doesn’t. I’ve not caught my head below a four-door but. I think about it is the identical, as a result of I don’t see any unused brackets.
Just like the entrance, the sizing of the rear brake rotor and caliper setup is restricted to what can match inside the bottom mannequin’s 16-inch wheels. Nonetheless, the rotors are thick and properly ventilated. The rotor’s deep hat part (yellow) could provide the impression it’s hiding a shoe-type parking brake, however the single-piston sliding caliper has an digital parking brake (inexperienced) bolted onto the again.
The 17-inch wheels that include the 35-inch LT315/70R17 Sasquatch tires are beadlock succesful, which implies you may unbolt the ornamental 12-bolt ring you see right here and exchange it with an adjunct 24-bolt ring that truly clamps the tire bead in place for excessive low-pressure aired-down off-road working. The identical kind of beadlock-capable 17-inch rims additionally include the 33-inch Badlands setup.
These are, the truth is, Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires, however Ford didn’t need the phrase Wrangler on the Bronco, for apparent causes. As an alternative, they invited Goodyear to stamp their title on twice.
Look carefully and also you’ll see that the ornamental 12-bolt beadlock rings aren’t doing any bead locking. They do assist add as much as a tire meeting weight of some 89 kilos, although. Elevate along with your knees, is all I’m saying.
The Bronco’s suspension execution is mighty spectacular, and I feel it offers consumers an excellent third possibility that sits about halfway between the Jeep Wrangler on one finish and the Toyota 4Runner on the opposite. You get the detachable high and doorways of the Wrangler, however the Ford’s suspension format has the identical daily-drive advantages of a 4Runner due to double wishbone impartial entrance suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Past that, the Bronco advantages from a wider stance and beefy high-flying design that’s based mostly on the Ranger Raptor. Positive, the Jeep Wrangler will flex extra in excessive circumstances, however the Bronco isn’t any slouch, and it’ll steer, journey and deal with higher nearly anyplace else.
Contributing author Dan Edmunds is a veteran automotive engineer and journalist. He labored as a automobile growth engineer for Toyota and Hyundai with an emphasis on chassis tuning, and was the director of auto testing at Edmunds.com (no relation) for 14 years.
Yow will discover all of his Suspension Deep Dives right here on Autoblog.