2021 Ford Bronco vs. the original first-gen: Oh, how far we've come

We see how Ford's new SUV stacks up against the original Bronco.

Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
2 min read
2021 Bronco with original Bronco
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2021 Bronco with original Bronco

Some 50 years separates these two Ford Bronco kin.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

In case you couldn't tell, we're pretty excited about the 2021 Ford Bronco (and its smaller sibling, the Bronco Sport). We've already looked at how it compares with the Jeep Wrangler, but we also wondered, how's it stack up against the original?

The first Bronco rolled off the assembly line as a 1966 model and remained fairly steady until the second-generation model came along in 1977. This article talks about the 1971 Bronco pickup that we saw recently at a Ford-sponsored program, and pits it against the new two-door Badlands model.

Watch this: Old Bronco vs. new: Taking a look at how the Bronco has changed over the years

Exterior dimensions

When we look at overall size, it's kind of ridiculous how much the Bronco has grown. While the old two-door came in at an overall length of 152.1 inches and had a wheelbase of just 92 inches, the 2021 Bronco Badlands trim is 174.8 inches long with a 100.4-inch wheelbase. The new Bronco is wider and taller, as well.

Exterior dimensions

1971 Bronco Pickup2021 Bronco 2-Door
Length 152.1 in174.8 in
Wheelbase 92.0 in100.4 in
Width 68.8 in76.3 in
Height 68.9 in73.8 in
Track (front/rear) 57.4 in65.0 in

2021 Ford Bronco 2-Door looks to be an off-road warrior

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Off-road geometry

Approach, breakover and departure angles are crucial in a vehicle's off-road capability. The bigger the angle, the more obstacles the vehicle can climb over. These numbers assume the largest tires you can get from the factory for both models. Not surprisingly, with its smaller proportions, the 1971 Bronco had some great geometry and was probably akin to driving a mountain goat. The older Bronco did have a bit of a rear overhang which hindered its departure angle, but it still turned in some solid numbers.

Off-road specs

1971 Bronco Pickup2021 Bronco 2-Door
Ground clearance 13.3 in11.6 in
Approach angle 45.0 deg43.2 deg
Breakover angle 31.2 deg29.0 deg
Departure angle 34.0 deg37.2 deg

1966-1977 Ford Bronco breaks new ground

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It's safe to say that manufacturers have come a long way in the past 50 or so years. The 1971 Bronco had a standard 2.8-liter, 170 cubic-inch straight six cylinder engine which put out a paltry 105 horsepower. An optional 4.9-liter, 302 cubic-inch V8 was new that year, pushing out just over 200 hp. Both were mated to a three-on-the-tree manual transmission. I should point out here that the numbers for the 1971 Bronco are the old, inflated gross numbers. We measure engine power differently these days with the accessories attached which results in lower, but more accurate numbers.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Bronco has a 2.3-liter EcoBoost I4 engine standard good for 270 hp with a 7-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission. The optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 with 310 hp is only available with the 10-speed automatic.

Base engine specs

1971 Bronco Pickup2021 Bronco 2-Door
Engine 2.8-liter I62.3-liter turbo I4
Power 105 hp270 hp
Torque 158 lb-ft310 lb-ft
Transmission(s) 3-speed manual7-speed manual

10-speed auto

Optional engine specs

1971 Bronco Pickup2021 Bronco 2-Door
Engine 4.9-liter V82.7-liter twin-turbo V6
Power 210 hp (max)310 hp
Torque 300 lb-ft400 lb-ft
Transmission 3-speed manual10-speed auto
Watch this: The 2021 Ford Bronco is armed and ready to go Jeep hunting

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