When Ford reintroduced the Bronco last year, Torque News noted that the revival of the honored name was a welcomed development. At Torque News, we then went into the history of the original Bronco, which was introduced 56 years earlier.
We noted not only the Bronco's origins but also that it was one of the first SUVs on the market. We also noted that its birth began a whole culture of 4X4 SUVs in the surfing world. But that wasn't the-half of it.
Bona Fide Offroad Powerhouse
The original Bronco, a two-door SUV only, was also a bona fide offroad powerhouse. The Bronco was the winner in the first year of the Baja 1000 – 1969. In later competitions through the 1970s and 1980s, the Bronco was both a class winner and an overall winner several times. Two years ago, the factory set about repeating the Bronco victory in the Baja. However, the entry was plagued by problems from the start. The first effort was a "DNF" (did not finish) because of parts and enviro problems.
Last year, the factory entry did far better. There are also plans to enter the Baja again. Ford has also commissioned unique models of the Bronco to take part; they are customer vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Bronco brand is taking trail riders to their off-road roots with the introduction of the 2023 Bronco and Bronco Sport Heritage and Heritage Limited editions.
The special-edition models will be available across the Bronco family lineup, including Bronco two-door, Bronco four-door, and Bronco Sport SUVs. Ford will build just 1,966 units of each Heritage Limited Edition model to commemorate the year the original Bronco debuted.
"Bronco captivated America in the mid-'60s with its rugged style and uncompromising off-road agility, a legacy still prevalent today," said Mark Grueber, Bronco marketing manager. "With this new Heritage and Heritage Limited editions, we're paying respect to Bronco's roots with nods to some of the signature design cues from the first-generation vehicle while continuing to build the Bronco Brand with more special editions that our customers want."
The 2023 Bronco Sport Heritage and Heritage Limited edition models are available to order for all customers now. Bronco two- and four-door models will go on sale later this year, with initial orders prioritized for current Bronco order holders awaiting their vehicle. Orders will open to all customers next year, regardless of current reservation status.
1960s Bronco styling meets modern capability
Bronco two- and four-door Heritage models are highlighted by a two-tone paint job that includes signature Oxford White accents, including the modular hardtop roof. A unique Oxford White grille features Race Red "FORD" lettering, while 17-inch aluminum heritage wheels painted in Oxford White and a bodyside stripe dial up the throwback looks.
The 1960s-era-inspired squared fenders with Sasquatch-width fender flares provide a visual callback and cover the nearly two-inch wider track. A powder-coated steel-capable front bumper with built-in recovery points and integrated fog lamps is standard.
Heritage Limited models add gloss black-painted 17-inch heritage wheels, classic "dog dish" centers, and an Oxford White-painted lip for more retro flare.
Plaid Cloth Seats Featured
Inside, Bronco Heritage Edition units feature plaid cloth seats and exclusive touches such as an Oxford White instrument panel, center console badging, and exclusive front and rear floor liners.
Heritage Edition models come standard with Big Bend® series equipment and features, including a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine with a seven-speed manual or available 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. The engine delivers up to 300 horsepower and 325 pounds-feet of torque. The Sasquatch Package with a High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension (HOSS) 2.0 system with long-travel Bilstein position-sensitive dampers with end-stop control valves and increased ride height is standard, as are 35-inch Goodyear mud-terrain tires and Dana front and rear electronic locking axles with 4.7:1 final drive ratio.
Bronco Heritage Edition is available in five paint options. At the same time, Bronco Heritage Limited Edition is exclusively available at launch in Robin's Egg Blue, a throwback color based on Arcadian Blue, available on the original Bronco in 1966. The color Yellowstone Metallic, based on the 1971 Ford color Prairie Yellow, is planned for late 2023 model year availability, and peak Blue is planned for the 2024 model year.
Heritage Limited Edition models offer the increased capability of Badlands™ series equipment and features, including a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine with up to 330 horsepower and 415 pounds-feet of torque, mated to the 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. They are also differentiated with features that include metal "Bronco" script fender badging, leather-trimmed/vinyl plaid seats with white and Race Red accent stitching, and unique Heritage Limited console badging.
Bronco Sport wears the brand legacy proudly
Though not part of the Bronco family in the 1960s, Bronco Sport allows customers to enjoy the brand's heritage with exclusive Heritage and Heritage Limited Edition styling.
"Bronco Sport has been a hit with compact SUV customers since it arrived two years ago, but it is just as important that we give our customers special editions similar to what we have done with the two- and four-door Bronco," Grueber said. "These Heritage Editions are every bit as important to Sport as they are for the rest of the Bronco Brand, and we think the iconic themes from the '60s work perfectly on this vehicle."
All models feature signature Oxford White accents, including a uniquely painted roof to mimic the original Bronco style. A unique Oxford White heritage grille features Race Red "BRONCO" lettering, while Oxford White 17-inch aluminum heritage wheels and bodyside stripes heighten the throwback appearance.
Both Versions Have Common Features
Both versions include interior touches such as plaid cloth seats and a Navy Pier instrument panel with Oxford White accenting the bin and door ring. Cloth seats feature a heathered Navy Pier with plaid inserts and Race Red and Robin's Egg Blue accent stitching. A unique Navy Pier microsuede center console and armrests include Race Red stitching. The Bronco Sport MOLLE strap storage system on the front-row seatbacks includes Navy Pier straps and Race Red zipper grips. The Navy Pier color was inspired by the cloth seats available in Bronco in the 1980s.
Like the full-size Bronco SUVs, the 2023 Bronco Sport Heritage Edition is built on the Big Bend series, with the proven 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine putting out 181 horsepower and 190 pounds-feet of torque.
The vehicles feature a HOSS system with increased ride height and uniquely tuned front struts with hydraulic rebound stops designed to provide a quiet, less jarring off-road experience. In addition, 46-millimeter-diameter monotube rear shocks, antiroll bars, and uniquely tuned springs help provide off-road comfort.
5 GOAT Modes Offered
The Terrain Management System offers five GOAT Modes because Bronco "Goes Over Any Type of Terrain" and in various conditions. Standard modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, and Sand.
Bronco Sport Heritage Edition is available in seven paint options, including Robin's Egg Blue, while Heritage Limited Edition is exclusively available in Robin's Egg Blue, Yellowstone Metallic, and Peak Blue.
Heritage Limited Edition models add metal "Bronco" script front fender badging and larger 29-inch all-terrain off-road tires with more aggressive, deeper treads that stretch onto the sidewalls for improved off-road traction. Heritage Limited Edition models also upgrade to leather-trimmed seats and include Oxford White door inserts and a unique center console badging.
They are powered by increased performance and off-road capability of the Badlands series, including the more powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine with up to 250 horsepower and 277 pounds-feet of torque for high-speed off-road performance.
Twin-Clutch Rear-Drive Unit
An advanced 4x4 system with a twin-clutch rear-drive unit with a differential lock can divert all rear axle torque to either wheel and the GOAT. Modes system increases to seven modes, adding Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl.
Bronco Sport Heritage Edition MSRP will start at $34,245, and the Heritage Limited starts at $44,655. Bronco Heritage will start at $44,305, and Heritage Limited will be priced at $66,895. For more information on the Bronco and Bronco Sport Heritage and Heritage Limited editions, please visit www.ford.com.
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.