Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A yellow 2023 Ford Bronco Heritage Edition is shown parked on a dirt path.

Reliving Nostalgia With the 2023 Ford Bronco Heritage Edition

The look and feel of a classic vehicle never really leaves you. One good example is the Bronco from the old years—you know, the times before 1996. Whether you had one for yourself or you only know it from history, like in Evan Riley’s deep dive here at CarLifeNation, there is something special about the classic Bronco—so much so that Ford has even revived the look of the original SUV for the new 2023 Ford Bronco.

The classic design is fresh again with the 2023 model year’s revival of the Heritage Edition for the off-road midsize SUV. The old design gets a nice buff to accommodate some of its more modern sensibilities, thanks to the updated features and performance offered by the newest generation Bronco. This wave of nostalgia is made ever-so-present thanks to its callbacks to the first-generation Bronco that debuted back in the mid-1960s. But what was it specifically about the original Bronco that made it feel so iconic, and why would Ford revive it?

A Different Kind of SUV

When the original Bronco hit the market in 1965, the industry was in a very different place than it is today, as the nation’s showrooms weren’t yet over-saturated with SUVs. What we had instead was a distinct selection of vehicles trying to find their identity in budding segments and a unique landscape where consumer demand for certain kinds of vehicles had yet to be fully realized. This period saw an unexpected rise in popularity for vehicles that defied the norms, like the Jeep CJ line, which continued to flourish among outbackers following their widespread use as military vehicles during World War II.

One response to the growing popularity of consumer Jeeps was International Harvester’s two-door SUV in 1961, and later we saw a station-wagon-themed variant of the Jeep in the form of the Wagoneer in 1963. The 1966 Ford Bronco model year outing was essentially a larger competitor to the Jeep CJ, a more rugged version of the Wagoneer, and a more stylish alternative to International Harvester’s Scout Wagon. What we ended up with was an amalgamation of different vehicle segments all rolled into one utilitarian and popular SUV.

The body-on-frame design of the Bronco combined with the Dana axles, leaf springs, and inline six-cylinder made it a nice, rugged SUV for the solo driver and outdoor families alike. It could tow, travel off-road, and its design enabled it to take a beating without retreating. Available initially in three distinct designs, the first-generation Bronco’s open-air utility, full-length white roof on the Wagon trim, and matching white grille design with white-wall tires and chrome wheels gave it both an air of sophistication and a no-frills sense of durability.

The plaid interior of a 2023 Ford Bronco Heritage Edition shows the front seating.

Never Straying Far From the Roots

The funny thing about the 2023 Ford Bronco’s revival of the Heritage Edition is that its roots were never actually all that far removed from the generations preceding it. You might note that the two-tone design scheme and the trims featuring the white grille and iconic white roof were usually available in some form or fashion in each generation. The design would be modified to match the current era of that generation, however, with additional design cues to modernize the look and feel of the Bronco. Despite these updates, the Bronco still remains true to its roots.

The first time that the Bronco actually did stray from its parentage was when it was first revived as a 2021 model year, where it came back bolder, more muscular, and more performance-heavy than ever before. However, the typical white roof and red body paint with chrome or white wheels and the white grille was not a standard feature for the resurrected Bronco—and in some ways this makes sense. Ford needed to reinvent the image of the Bronco and sell its customers a more modern, capable SUV—and it’s hard to do that if your primary objective is maintaining its old-school build.

Reviving The Heritage Edition

It took a couple of years but Ford finally brought the Bronco back to its original finish with the Heritage Edition. The popular color scheme, dog-dish wheel design, and white grille all make a return as part of the 2023 Ford Bronco line-up. The design is a dedicated homage to the first-generation Bronco, specifically the 1966 Ford Bronco Wagon, for which the Heritage Edition adopts its appearance in both the Bronco and Bronco Sport.

The only downside with the Heritage Edition for the 2023 Bronco is that you don’t get the white-wall tires. However, this makes sense because of the mud-terrain Goodyear 35-inch tire design, which is more rugged than the original tires on the 1966 Bronco. One highlight is that the beadlock-capable wheels on the Sasquatch edition of the Heritage model does feature a white-wall design around the black wheels, which gives it a nice throwback to the classic Bronco. But everything else that made the original Bronco so visually iconic is present with the 2023 Heritage Edition.

Plaid cloth seats, an Oxford White grille with matching roof and wheels, and an Oxford White instrument panel help revive the classic look of the Bronco while maintaining all of the modern-day amenities of the most recent generation SUV. It keeps in line with the previous generations, which usually had a design scheme or paint option of their own as a respectful nod to the classic Bronco.

A close up of the white rim on a 2023 Ford Bronco Heritage Edition is shown.

Keeping The Heritage Edition Alive

Part of what makes the 2023 Ford Bronco so exciting is that it sets the stage for a future that combines old and new. Ford has already confirmed that the Heritage Editions are here to stay, and they are already conceiving the 2024 Heritage Edition and its own new paint schemes. This shows that, much like the previous generations of the Bronco, there will remain a consistent throwback to the classic first-generation.

It also shows that Ford is still committed to pushing the Bronco forward while also having some fun, giving newcomers to the Bronco brand a taste of some of that sweet, sweet, old-school nostalgia. It’s a nice way to bridge the old and the new without sacrificing all of the modern amenities that make the newest generation so cherished while also bringing back some of those elements that made the original so popular to begin with. There’s really no telling how long the Heritage Edition will run for, but you can—and certainly should—enjoy it while it’s available. The starting price for the 2023 Ford Bronco Heritage Edition is $44,305. Opting for the Sasquatch Package capitalizes on the Bronco’s exceptional offroad capabilities, with larger 35-inch tires, Trail Stability Control, and Bilstein position-sensitive-damping (PSD) shocks for unparalleled control and stability while coursing the rugged wilderness.

So, what do you think about it? Yay or nay? Do you think Ford did well in bringing back this iconic design for the new generation Bronco, or should it have stayed in the past? How do you feel about Ford sticking with the Heritage Edition for future model years and offering continued updates down the road? Does it lend the nostalgia-bait an aura of freshness, or do you think they should be focusing on design innovation? Let us know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *