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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.

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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.

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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 Pickup 2021 Bronco 2-Door
Length 152.1 in 174.8 in
Wheelbase 92.0 in 100.4 in
Width 68.8 in 76.3 in
Height 68.9 in 73.8 in
Track (front/rear) 57.4 in 65.0 in

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 Pickup 2021 Bronco 2-Door
Ground clearance 13.3 in 11.6 in
Approach angle 45.0 deg 43.2 deg
Breakover angle 31.2 deg 29.0 deg
Departure angle 34.0 deg 37.2 deg

Engines

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 Pickup 2021 Bronco 2-Door
Engine 2.8-liter I6 2.3-liter turbo I4
Power 105 hp 270 hp
Torque 158 lb-ft 310 lb-ft
Transmission(s) 3-speed manual 7-speed manual


10-speed auto

Optional engine specs


1971 Bronco Pickup 2021 Bronco 2-Door
Engine 4.9-liter V8 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6
Power 210 hp (max) 310 hp
Torque 300 lb-ft 400 lb-ft
Transmission 3-speed manual 10-speed auto
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