Debuting at the Chicago Auto Show, this overlanding 4x4 SUV dares to go where the gators lurk.
Chris PaukertFormer executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015.
Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Interest in overlanding, the pastime centered around vehicular on- and off-road adventure travel to remote locations, has been accelerating by leaps and bounds in recent years. No surprise, then, that automakers are increasingly eager to cash in on the fun and the money that's largely been going to the aftermarket. To this point, manufacturers have mostly made options-list overtures to this overlanding audience, but now, the Blue Oval is planting a muddy stake in the ground with this 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades.
Debuting at the Chicago Auto Show this week and based on the Bronco's existing Black Diamond trim, this four-door-only model comes pre-accessorized with a whole host of gear designed to ford deeper waters, trudge through gloopier mud and conquer more foreboding terrain. This 4x4 SUV builds on atop the Sasquatch option package's high-clearance suspension, 35-inch Goodyear off-road tires and underbody bash plates with a trick new snorkel and the first factory-installed winch we've ever seen on a production SUV. Ford's engineers also raised the vents on both the front and rear axles, along with the transfer case and transmission. The result is a wading depth of 36.4 inches -- that's 2.9 inches higher than other non-Bronco Raptor models. (The latter rides atop a unique suspension with even larger tires to achieve its 37.0-inch depth rating.)
2022 Ford Bronco Everglades is our kind of swamp rat
The 2022 Bronco Everglades also features unique flat-top fenders and model-specific 17-inch carbonized gray-painted alloy wheels. Ford's molded-in-color hardtop and a roof rack with crossbars comes standard up top, and protective rock rails are part of the package, too. Unique topographic-map graphics on the front fenders are also new for this model, as is an available new desert sand paint scheme that's exclusive to Everglades. One of just five available colors (eruption green, Area 51, shadow black and cactus gray are the others), Ford says this will be a "low-volume" color.
Winch and snorkel details
The Everglades' winch is a factory-installed component and not a dealer-installed accessory, which meant it had to be crash tested. Ford worked with aftermarket manufacturer Warn to make sure this Zeon 10-S winch was suitable and safe. With 100 feet of Spydura synthetic rope and a 10,000-pound capacity, you should be able to get safely unstuck even if you're loaded down with lots of gear and hundreds of pounds of mud. This recovery gear is mounted to the front of Ford's heavy-duty modular bumper with removable endcaps for better clearance.
Oh, and speaking of mud, Ford designers fashioned the trick A-pillar snorkel with a user-selectable two-way inlet to make sure the opening faces the direction in which you're driving.
Only one powertrain
If you're hoping for a manual transmission or the Bronco's more-powerful 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine, well, prepare to be disappointed. The Everglades will be available exclusively powered by Ford's 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 backed by the company's 10-speed automatic transmission. Having spent a fair amount of time in Broncos equipped with Ford's base turbo four, I can tell you there's a surprising amount of oomph: 300 horsepower and, more importantly, 325 pound-feet of torque when running on premium gas.
That said, it feels like a missed opportunity to not make the larger V6 available, all 330 hp and 415 lb-ft of it. After all, this model directly targets the overlanding scene, where it's commonplace for people to tote many hundreds (if not many thousands) of pounds of gear and supplies along with them. Like other non-Raptor Bronco models, the Everglades is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, but the larger powerplant would certainly have an easier time of things, especially considering the Everglades weighs 5,212 pounds -- heftier than the next heaviest standard-series Bronco, the Badlands V6 (5,109 pounds).
Everglades EPA fuel economy estimates are unknown at this time.
Cabin features and tech
Inside, Ford thoughtfully kept in mind that the Everglades is specifically designed to take you to very messy locations, so the cabin is packed with gray marine-grade vinyl upholstery, and rubberized washout floors with drains. Urban Green seat stitching, oh-shit handles and air vents add a little visual flair, too.
In terms of tech and features, the Everglades incorporates the Mid Package (322A) Equipment Group available on other Bronco models, including features like remote start, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and intelligent key. Unlike other Mid Package models, however, the Everglades also gets the Bronco's larger 12-inch Sync 4 infotainment screen usually reserved for High Package trims.
Ordering, pricing and availability
If you've had a Bronco on order for ages now, and you're eyeing this 2022 Everglades with a tinge of regret, Ford will let you change your existing order to this model provided you don't already have an estimated vehicle production date. Orders for the truck open up in March and Ford plans to specifically start with existing reservation holders. Pricing starts at $54,595 including a $1,495 destination fee, making this the most-expensive non-Raptor Bronco by a significant margin.
Is splurging on the Everglades worth it? We won't really know before driving it, but even if it turns out to be less costly to find and fit similar parts in the aftermarket, the fact that everything is installed by Ford, covered under warranty and can be financed right into one's monthly payment should make this a pretty compelling option.
The 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades wades into dealers this summer.