The Ford Bronco design is a surprising throwback

I don’t normally cover the overall design of a vehicle, but recently I tested a Ford Bronco and then a Range Rover Defender 90 over a two week period. I had them side by side in my driveway for a moment, and they both hearken back to loftier times. 

I didn’t actually know this, but the current Bronco design is a throwback to the original model. I don’t mean the one from the 80s that you might remember or possibly even owned. 

It’s a bit startling to behold. The current Bronco looks enough like the originals that you might do a double-take. In 1972 and 1973, Ford even introduced extras packers like the Explorer and Ranger that mirror the extras they offer now. I tested the Black Diamond model that has rock rails, rubber flooring and bash plates for some nice accenting. 

Something else I didn;t know: Previous owners of the original Bronco models and current owners can go to one of four different locations in the U.S. (they are in Texas, Moab, Nevada, and New Hampshire) to do some off-roading. Funny that I noticed they do not allow journalists like me testing press cars, but you can register at this site if you own a 2021 or newer. If you are an original owner, you can still go but have to pay a fee to use the off-roading course.

Why is this all so important? For me, the design aesthetic is the most interesting feature of the Bronco. It just looks cool. Now I know it also looks a lot like that original model, which itself was a throwback to the glory days of the original Jeep models. 

Inside and out, you can tell the Bronco is designed for people who know off-roading and quality construction. There are a couple of huge hand rails in the cab which you can use if the road gets a little rough or rocky. In the back, I noticed you can pretty much just spray the whole thing down without worrying about damaging the interior.

Outside, the boxy design is eye-catching. Ford really nailed it on the throwback look and feel, because the Bronco doesn’t look like the models I’m used to from when I was a kid. The Black Diamond model I tested had huge off-roading tires, and I took the vehicle out for a few joyrides in the wet and mud around my house. On one trip, my passenger made frequent use of the hand-rail and even yelped a few times as we skidded a bit on a dirt road.

My test car was also a manual, which made it even more fun. With a manual transmission, you feel like you are in more control of the vehicle, able to throttle down when you want.

Our vehicle makes a style statement about who we are. That’s part of the fun. The original was made from 1966 to 1977 and the latest iteration has the exact same aesthetic in mind, something that is closer to a Jeep or a Defender than a Chevy Suburban. 

I’m a big fan of the style and the handling; Next time I get my hands on one, I’ll do a deeper dive on the technology involved. For now, I’m just loving the look.

Here’s the new model and the vintage side by side: