The off-road battle between the Jeep Wrangler and the new Ford Bronco has quickly become one of the most interesting match-ups in the American automotive world. The Wrangler has literally spent decades without any real competition in terms of factory-built off-road SUVs, but with the arrival of the new Bronco, Ford has introduced a true challenger to the legendary Jeep.
Yesterday morning, Ford introduced the highest performance variant of the new Bronco yet and like their top-of-the-line off-road F-150, they are using the Raptor name. The Bronco Raptor is designed to serve as the most off-road-ready SUV in the lineup and in the right situation, it is probably more capable than the F-150 Raptor. However, Ford has continued to ride the boosted V6 bandwagon that they created, so the Bronco Raptor still lacks the big power of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392.
The 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor is powered by a twin turbocharged EcoBoost 3.0-liter V6, but the company hasn’t introduced official power numbers just yet. Ford has done this with many of their latest performance vehicles, introducing them with targeted performance numbers rather than hard numbers. In this case, Ford is targeting “more than 400 horsepower”. Seeing as how the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 in the 2022 F-150 Raptor offers just 450 horsepower, we expect that the Bronco Raptor’s smaller V6 will offer less than that. The 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 in the Ford Explorer ST offers 400 horsepower, so perhaps the company will tweak the engine to deliver a bit more in the premium Bronco – but it is all-but-guaranteed to be south of 450 horsepower.
If that proves to be the case, the Ford Bronco Raptor will be well short of the power levels of the Wrangler Rubicon 392, allowing Jeep to comfortably hold onto the title of the best off-road SUV on the market.
While I am sure that some of the people who read this will point out that big power doesn’t automatically lead to a better off-road vehicle, keep in mind that I have tested the Ford Bronco and the Jeep Wrangler on the same public roads and at the same off-road facility. The Bronco is unquestionably the more comfortable daily driver in terms of both interior space and ride quality, and it is a great off-road vehicle. It is easily one of the best factory off-road vehicles on the market today, but when you leave paved surfaces, the Wrangler is just plain better.
The current engine options in the Bronco make it a solid off-road vehicle and there is no question that the added power of the Raptor model will lead to more high speed off-road fun, but the 392 makes the Wrangler Rubicon a far more enjoyable off-road machine, both for the sound and for the instant application of V8 power.
For those wondering, the Bronco Raptor isn’t just a slightly stronger V6 engine. The package also includes a HOSS 4.0 high performance suspension system, a fully boxed high strength steel frame and 37-inch BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires, along with some exterior changes to accommodate the wider track of this model. Those are the biggest stock tires of any SUV in the U.S. market, with the Wrangler 392 coming with 35-inch tires and for those wondering, the Wrangler comes with a fully boxed high strength steel frame. Whether the Bronco Raptor suspension system is better than that of the Wrangler will have to be proven in the real world.
The Bronco Raptor will start at $69,995 with destination. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 starts at $76,395, so at least the Ford off-roaders are saving some money at the dealership…at least those who don’t pay a huge dealer markup.
The bottom line is here is that as the battle between the Jeep Wrangler and the Ford Bronco continues to heat up, the Wrangler continues to be the tougher of the two off-road SUVs.