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

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

A green 2024 Ford Bronco is shown driving off-road after winning a 2024 Ford Bronco vs 2024 Jeep Wrangler comparison.

The Ford Bronco Makes Jeep Wake Up

Until recently, I felt like Jeep was asleep at the wheel—so to speak—when it came to the Wrangler. For a long time, the Wrangler had been arguably the undisputed king in the auto industry when it came to off-road SUVs, with little in the way of real competition beyond other Jeep models. With the release of the Ford Bronco, however, Jeep received a wake-up call and realized they needed to put some real work into making the Wrangler a modern off-road SUV that could maintain its position at the top. Have they done so?

That’s a great question and one we’re about to explore by looking at the 2024 Ford Bronco vs 2024 Jeep Wrangler to see how they stack up. Just a year or two ago, this wouldn’t even be a competition, and the Bronco would come out on top in pretty much every category. Now, however, Jeep heard that wake-up call, and they’ve responded with a lightly refreshed Wrangler—it’s not a full redesign—that has a lot of impressive improvements inside and out. Whether it’s enough to win over fans that’ve been swayed by the Bronco is hard to say, but we’ll see how Jeep has responded and go from there.

Up First, Engine Options

The best way to kick things off when looking at these two models is to consider the engines they both bring to the road. This is an area where Ford took the Wrangler to school when it first hit the scene, but things have changed. Looking at starting engines, the Ford Bronco comes with a 2.3L Turbo I-4 that delivers 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, while the Jeep Wrangler starts with a 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine with 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The first point clearly goes to Ford for delivering a much better baseline engine.

From there, the Bronco has an available 2.7L Turbo V6 with 330 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, while Jeep offers an available 2.0L Turbo I-4 with 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque; so far, the Wrangler is not looking great. Jeep turns things around, however, with an impressive 2.0L Turbo I-4 plug-in hybrid engine on its Wrangler 4xe model, which delivers 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It took us a minute to get here, but now we can see Jeep waking up and answering Ford’s challenge. Plus, the limited all-electric range from the 17 kWh battery in the Jeep plug-in hybrid is a nice bonus.

To really see what these two models have to offer, however, we have to look at the Ford Bronco Raptor with its 3.0L EcoBoost Turbo V6 engine that puts out an impressive 418 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque. That’s some solid power, but Jeep has again answered with the Wrangler Rubicon 392 and its exclusive 6.4L HEMI V8 engine that delivers a massive 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. These are a couple of premium models that most of us aren’t going to bother with, especially for enjoying ourselves out on the trail. Still, it’s a clear example of how Jeep has heard Ford’s challenge and is responding in a way that has me impressed.

A red 2024 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is shown driving off-road.

Next, Off-Road Capability and Specs

Powerful engines are important, but beyond that, when it comes to a great off-road SUV, I want to see what it can actually do and where it can go. For me, that largely comes down to its capabilities out on the trail and how well it can tackle the kinds of unexpected obstacles we all face while off-roading. So, let’s see how each SUV stacks up in this regard.

For starters, the Ford Bronco is built to tackle a wide range of situations, which is clear with its 43.2-degree approach angle, breakover angle of 29 degrees, and departure angle of 37.2 degrees. By comparison, the Jeep Wrangler can achieve a 47.4-degree approach angle and a departure angle of 40.4 degrees, which seems to give it a tremendous advantage over the Bronco. I should note, however, that these specs are from the Xtreme 35 Package with its massive 35-inch tires. If we look at the Ford Bronco Raptor, it can get a 47.2-degree approach angle and a departure angle of 40.5 degrees. These are nearly identical to what the Wrangler with the Xtreme 35 Package can get.

Similarly, the standard Bronco has a ground clearance of 11.6 inches and 33.5 inches of water fording. In comparison, the Everglades model boosts those numbers slightly to 11.7 inches of clearance and 36.4 inches of water fording. Again, the Jeep Wrangler comes in hot with up to 12.9 inches of ground clearance and 34 inches of water fording depth, but that’s for the Xtreme 35 Package. The comparable Ford Bronco Raptor achieves 13.1 inches of ground clearance and 37 inches of water fording, surpassing the Wrangler.

What About Advanced Off-Road Systems?

The entire auto industry is in an arms race when it comes to developing and offering innovative technology that makes their vehicles look more refined and advanced than other models on the market. Off-road vehicles are no exception, and we can find some impressive technology designed specifically for hitting the trail. For example, the Ford Bronco has its Goes Over Any Type of Terrain (GOAT) Modes for its terrain management system, giving you modes like Mud/Ruts for improved traction in sloppy conditions or Rock Crawl for tackling boulders and similar obstacles. Along with these GOAT Modes, you’ll find tech like Ford Trail control that lets the Bronco maintain a set speed for you so you can focus on maneuvering, or Trail 1-Pedal Driving to make things simple while you accelerate and brake.

Jeep has been working overtime developing impressive four-wheel drive (4×4) systems like its standard Command-Trac 4×4 or available Rock-Trac 4×4 for enhanced traction and boosted performance on the trail. Similarly, overall performance and handling have been improved on the 2024 Wrangler compared to previous models, but Jeep hasn’t pushed forward with impressive off-road tech in the same way Ford has. There’s no denying the Wrangler is capable when you’ve left the pavement behind, but Jeep needs to develop more features like the Bronco has to ensure the Wrangler remains relevant moving forward.

A blue 2024 Ford Bronco is shown parked near a lake.

Don’t Forget Other Impressive Tech Features

Fortunately, Jeep has refreshed the tech features found inside the Wrangler, a place where they had woefully fallen behind. First and foremost, the Wrangler now comes with an impressive 12.3-inch infotainment display standard on all 2024 models. This is a huge improvement over last year’s model and its deeply underwhelming seven-inch standard display. By comparison, the Ford Bronco comes with an eight-inch screen standard, with a 12-inch infotainment display available, bringing it to the same level as Jeep’s offering.

Overall, the 2024 update for the Wrangler beautifully revamped its interior to bring it more in line with the rest of the auto industry—something long overdue. Its available seven-inch Driver Information Digital Cluster Display looks great, though not quite as nice as the eight-inch Instrument Panel display that comes standard inside every Bronco. The Wrangler is much improved this year, but the Bronco still takes top marks for overall comfort, especially in terms of ride quality, while pushing forward with cutting-edge tech. Now, if Ford would just add BlueCruise hands-free driving to the Bronco, then we’d really be in business.

Which Off-Road SUV Is King?

As you can see, the Wrangler is better than it’s been in a long time. Jeep seems to have gotten the memo that they can’t just rest on their laurels any longer. Is it enough to remain at the top of the off-road SUV mountain? I’m not sure, honestly. The Ford Bronco continues to do a lot right, offering impeccable ride quality on the road, remarkable capability off the road, and innovative technology that Jeep hasn’t caught up with yet. In the end, I think the Bronco has held out at the top and continues to dethrone the Wrangler as the king of the trail, but the fight is heating up and getting more intense. At the end of the day, that’s a win for all of us who enjoy leaving the city behind and playing in the dirt and mud in our SUVs. As Jeep and Ford compete, we get to enjoy the results.

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