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Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco: The Ultimate Iowa SUV Breakdown

When pitting the Jeep Wrangler vs Ford Bronco, you’re likely asking one main question: which delivers more for my money on and off the road? This article directly dives into their performance, comfort, tech, safety, and cost, guiding you to the SUV that best fits your needs without any fluff.

Key Takeaways

  • The Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler each present distinct off-road capabilities with detailed differences in terrain handling, suspension, and on-road performance, reflecting their unique approaches to rugged driving.

  • Interior features and technology add another level of competition with both SUVs offering ample space, connectivity, and high-tech amenities. The Bronco leads in safety features and owner satisfaction, while the Wrangler retains a focus on traditional off-road capabilities.

  • Pricing strategies and long-term value are crucial, as both the Bronco and Wrangler offer a range of trims, customization options, and competitive base prices while accounting for recalls and potential ownership costs.

New Broncos vs Wranglers Face-Off in Des Moines, IA

The Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler are no strangers to the off-road enthusiast community in Des Moines, Iowa. Both vehicles are renowned for their impressive off-road credentials, but they are distinct in their approaches. The Bronco, with its 35-inch tires, boasts a ground clearance of 11.6 inches and a fording capability of 33.5 inches, outperforming the Wrangler Rubicon’s 10.8 inches of ground clearance and 32.5 inches of water fording depth.

However, the Wrangler’s robust suspension system and significant wheel articulation make it a formidable off-roader overall. So, which of these two champions reigns supreme in the challenging terrains of Iowa? We will delve further into this comparison.

Terrain Conquest: How They Stack Up

Both the Wrangler and Bronco excel in conquering diverse terrains with their respective four-wheel drive systems. The Wrangler offers options like Command-Trac, Selec-Trac, and Rock-Trac, while the Bronco counters with a two-speed unit that boasts shift-on-the-fly capability and an electromechanical setup for on-the-move adjustments.

The Bronco further enhances its off-road prowess with unique features like Trail Turn Assist for sharp turns on loose surfaces and one-pedal driving, offering greater control in rocky terrains. However, the Wrangler’s solid front axle offers superior wheel articulation, essential for tackling challenging off-road conditions.

Suspension Showdown: Solid Front Axle vs Independent

Regarding suspension, the Wrangler and Bronco adopt distinct strategies. The Wrangler is armed with a solid front axle and a sway bar disconnect, which delivers excellent wheel articulation, a crucial factor for off-road conditions.

Conversely, the Bronco uses a cutting-edge Dana AdvanTEK independent front suspension system, which, while competitive, may not achieve the same level of wheel articulation in off-road situations as the Wrangler’s solid front axle.

On Des Moines Highways: Family Comfort Meets Ruggedness

Transitioning from dirt to pavement, both the Wrangler and Bronco assert their versatility. On smooth roads, the Bronco offers a more refined and composed ride compared to the Wrangler, although the off-road suspension’s impact is felt more on low-quality surfaces. On highways, the Bronco instills confidence for high-speed travel, providing a connected and responsive driving experience.

Yet, the two-door Bronco model may exhibit a ‘jumpy’ ride on roads with numerous expansion joints, despite the advantages of the shorter wheelbase like a tighter turning radius and enhanced maneuverability.

Noise Control: Wind Noise Reduction Techniques

Both the Wrangler and Bronco, like any vehicles with removable tops and doors, face challenges with wind noise. However, they employ different techniques to mitigate this. The Wrangler utilizes insulation around the side windows, which also enhances the sound system experience by reducing sound level intrusion.

On the other hand, the Bronco’s removable hard top does contribute to significant wind noise.

Steering and Stability: Highway Handling

As for steering and stability, the Bronco delivers a consistently comfortable and controlled ride on a variety of surfaces, which is preferred to the Wrangler’s more rigid ride.

In terms of accident avoidance, the Bronco’s handling is less likely to be upset compared to the Wrangler, indicating better stability in emergency situations.

Interior Battle: Space, Tech, and Comfort

Inside, the rivalry between the Bronco and Wrangler persists, but this time, it’s all about space, technology, and comfort. The Bronco takes the lead with more interior space, providing a roomier environment. Both vehicles feature large infotainment screens, with the Wrangler sporting a 12.3-inch screen and the Bronco boasting a 12-inch display.

However, the Bronco’s leather seats are designed to be wider and softer, enhancing comfort for longer rides.

Front Seats and Back Seat: Room for Everyone

Both vehicles provide ample seating space. The Bronco two-door variant provides 99 cubic feet of passenger volume, while the four-door variant can offer up to 108.2 cubic feet with a soft top. In the front seats of the four-door Bronco, passengers can enjoy 43.1 inches of legroom and 43.3 inches of headroom. The rear seats offer 36.3 inches of legroom and 41.1 inches of headroom.

However, the Wrangler Unlimited’s model, also known as the Wrangler Unlimited, features an overhead cross-bar in the rear seat, which could contribute to a more crowded sensation for passengers in the back.

High-Tech Cockpit: Connectivity and Controls

Keeping pace with the high-tech era, both the Wrangler and Bronco feature advanced infotainment systems that include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Wrangler’s infotainment system provides sharp graphics, an intuitive layout, and clear backup camera visuals with quick response times.

The Bronco, on the other hand, comes with additional tech amenities like a wireless charging pad, SiriusXM with 360L, and a color LED instrument panel, enhancing the in-vehicle technology experience.

SUV Power and Efficiency: Engines and Fuel Economy

Comparison of Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler engine options

Looking under the hood, both the Wrangler and Bronco boast impressive engine options and fuel economy statistics. The Wrangler offers five different engines, including base and optional powertrains. The highest EPA estimate for fuel economy among the Jeep Wrangler’s engines is up to 25 mpg combined.

Horsepower Hustle: Engine Performance

Both the Jeep vehicles provide a variety of engine options that deliver varying horsepower and torque. The 2023 Jeep Wrangler’s base 3.6L V6 engine outputs 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

The Ford Bronco counters with a base 2.3L EcoBoost I4 engine, which produces up to 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque using premium fuel.

Going Green: Fuel Efficient Advances

Both vehicles have achieved notable advancements in fuel efficiency. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe has an EPA-estimated electric-only range of 21 miles and a combined fuel economy of 49 MPGe.

On the other hand, Ford Bronco’s 2.3L EcoBoost I4 engine achieves an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

Safety and Durability for Des Moines Residents

Both the Wrangler and Bronco have prioritized safety and durability, which are crucial for any vehicle owner. According to IIHS testing, the Bronco has superior crash test ratings compared to the Wrangler.

However, the Wrangler offers over 75 standard and available safety and security features, including:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring

  • Rear Cross Path Detection

  • Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking

  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go

These advanced options, including automatic high beam headlights and a heated steering wheel, provide added safety and security for your driving experience.

Keeping Safe: Standard Equipment and Safety Features

The safety of a vehicle is a crucial consideration, and both the Wrangler and Bronco deliver in this regard. The Wrangler incorporates a high-strength steel frame for crash protection and an advanced airbag system, along with features such as Gorilla® Glass windshield and theft alarm systems.

When comparing vehicles, the Bronco vs other models stands out as it is considered safer overall due to more advanced safety features.

Built Tough: Vehicle Longevity and Reliability

In terms of durability and dependability, the Bronco has a better reliability rating from Consumer Reports than the Jeep Wrangler for 2023, with the Bronco scoring 3 out of 5 and the Jeep Wrangler reliability being rated 2 out of 5.

Owner satisfaction ratings favor the Ford Bronco, which has a predicted rating of 4 out of 5, over the Jeep Wrangler, which receives a rating of 3 out of 5.

Towing and Utility: More Than Just Off-Roaders in Iowa

Beyond their recognized off-road capabilities, the Wrangler and Bronco also excel in towing and utility. Both vehicles are capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds, making them suitable for towing needs in outdoor excursions.

Pulling Power: Towing Capabilities

Regarding towing, the Bronco’s capacity varies from 3340 to 4500 pounds, accommodating a variety of towing needs for different consumers.

The Wrangler’s towing capacity, on the other hand, ranges from 2000 to 3500 pounds, which, while lower, still meets the basic towing requirements for most users.

Storage Solutions: Cargo Space Convenience

As for cargo space, the Bronco offers up to 83 cubic feet in the four-door model with a soft top when the rear seats are folded.

The Wrangler, however, offers a utility-focused rear cargo space that can be configured with a sliding cargo floor or added storage compartments for organizing gear and supplies.

Trim Levels and Customization: Personalizing Your Ride

Both the Bronco and Wrangler provide a wide array of trim levels and customization possibilities, allowing drivers to personalize their ride. The Wrangler offers trims like the Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon, each equipped with different levels of features and off-road capability.

The Bronco supports extensive customization, with several trims starting with the Base and leading up to:

  • Big Bend

  • Black Diamond

  • Outer Banks

  • Badlands

  • Wildtrak

These trims reflect a progression in features, including led headlights, and high speed off roading prowess.

From Base to Premium: Range of Options

Both vehicles provide a broad spectrum of trim level options. The 2023 Ford Bronco is offered in six adventure-ready trims, starting at $29,300 for the Base trim, which includes:

  • a 2.3L EcoBoost I4 engine

  • part-time 4x4 capability

  • removable doors

  • a convertible top

On the other hand, the wrangler lineup begins with the Sport trim, which provides a fundamental off-roading package, focusing on core off-road enthusiasts’ needs.

Making It Yours: Customization and Accessories

Both the Wrangler and Bronco present distinctive customization opportunities, allowing owners to tailor their vehicle to their liking. The Bronco offers customization convenience through its removable doors that can be stored in the cargo space, while the mirrors remain even when the doors are off.

Wrangler owners, on the other hand, should consider the implications of aftermarket accessories on aerodynamics, as non-factory parts may not be optimized for wind noise reduction.

Price Points: Affordability and Value

Cost is a vital factor in vehicle selection, and both the Wrangler and Bronco offer competitive pricing. The 2023 Ford Bronco has a starting base price of $32,295, whereas the 2023 Jeep Wrangler begins at a slightly higher base price of $32,990. However, price is just one part of the equation; owner satisfaction is an essential measure of a vehicle’s overall value proposition, as it reflects real-world experiences with vehicle performance, comfort, and cost-effectiveness.

Starting Strong: Base Price Comparison

A critical first step for consumers is comparing the base model prices of the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler. The 2023 Ford Bronco has a starting base price of $32,295, while the 2023 Jeep Wrangler begins at a slightly higher base price of $32,990. The initial cost comparison reveals that the Jeep Wrangler’s starting price is marginally higher by $695 compared to the Ford Bronco, inviting potential buyers to consider what additional features, if any, justify this price difference.

Cost Over Time: Ownership Expenses

Assessing the long-term ownership costs is key to determining a vehicle’s overall value. There have been a total of 5 recalls in the 2023 model year for both the Bronco and the Wrangler, with the recalls for the Bronco pertaining to cosmetic issues and problems that could lead to accidents, whereas the Wrangler’s recalls are related to potential accidents and fire risks while driving.


In this riveting face-off between the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler, we’ve explored various aspects of these two off-road titans. From their off-road capabilities, interior comforts, engine performance, safety features, to their towing capabilities and trim level options, both vehicles demonstrate their strengths in different areas. The Bronco shines with its modern design, refined ride quality, and advanced safety features, while the Wrangler stands its ground with its robust off-road capability, solid front axle, and a variety of engine options. Ultimately, the choice between these two off-roading champions depends on one’s specific needs, preferences, and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Jeeps better than Broncos?

If you prioritize on-road comfort and a less bumpy riding experience, the Ford Bronco might be a better option for you. Its suspension system is softer compared to Jeep's, making it more comfortable for families or individuals in urban areas.

Is a Bronco a smoother ride than a Wrangler?

Yes, the Ford Bronco provides a smoother ride than the Jeep Wrangler due to its superior handling and reduced road noise.

Will Bronco hold value like Wrangler?

No, the Ford Bronco is likely to not hold its value as well as the Jeep Wrangler, as it loses 49.4% of its value over 5 years compared to the Wrangler's 8.9%.

Is Bronco outselling Wrangler?

Yes, the Wrangler outsold the Bronco in terms of sheer volume alone, with Jeep selling 37,971 Wranglers compared to Ford's 32,430 Broncos in the first three months of 2023.

How do the interiors of the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler compare?

The Ford Bronco provides more interior space, wider seats, and a larger infotainment screen compared to the Jeep Wrangler, while the Wrangler offers high-tech features and a pleasing interior aesthetic with upscale touches.

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