2021 Ford Bronco: Power up, but inefficient

The 2021 Ford Bronco rumbles into dealers soon with even more power under the hood than what was originally expected, Motor Authority reported on Tuesday. The boost in power comes at the expense of efficiency, however, as the Bronco maxes out at just 21 mpg combined.

The base 2.3-liter turbo-4, originally rated at 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque when it debuted last year, now officially makes 300 hp and 325 lb-ft with premium fuel. 

The optional turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 also increases from 310 hp and 410 lb-ft to 330 hp and 415 lb-ft.

Both engines should provide plenty of power despite the lack of aerodynamics on the bulldog of a Bronco. With a curb weight that exceeds 5,000 pounds on some four-door models, the off-road beast will need it. The smaller engine is used in the Ford Ranger mid-size pickup truck, and the larger V-6 is used in the F-150, so Ford has already proven these turbocharged engines can deliver plenty of power for a big vehicle. 

The downside is the fact that fuel economy suffers, as it would on any heavy, blocky vehicle with a standard part-time four-wheel-drive system. The turbo-4 gets up to 20 mpg city, 22 highway, and 21 combined and the turbo V-6 tops out at 18 mpg city, 20 highway, and 19 combined. Those estimates are with the 10-speed automatic; the 7-speed manual will fall short. 

That's much better than the 12.9 mpg I observed in the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 with its 6.4-liter V-8. But for shoppers looking for a better balance of off-road capability and on-road efficiency, Jeep has a more tricks up its boxy doors. The four-door Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel-6 and standard four-wheel drive makes 260 hp and 442 lb-ft, and gets an EPA-rated 22/29/25 mpg .

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid upstages all of the off-road machines, with an output of 375 hp and 470 lb-ft via its 2.0-liter turbo-4 and pair of electric motors. It provides 21 miles of electric range, and when the juice runs out it gets 20 mpg combined. Together, it gets the equivalent of 49 mpg. Jeep is rolling out solar-powered chargers at select trailheads nationwide, too. 

The new rivalry between Jeep and Ford will help off-road enthusiasts get their vehicle any way they want it. 

The 2021 Ford Bronco goes on sale this summer. 

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