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A white 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is shown driving through water after winning the 2021 Jeep Wrangler vs 2021 Ford Bronco shoot-out.

Off-Road Rumble: 2021 Jeep Wrangler vs 2021 Ford Bronco

Jeep has over 80 years of building vehicles that can go anywhere, do anything, going back to the original Willys that helped America win World War II. With this kind of legacy, Jeep has established itself as the go-to automotive brand for four-wheel drive SUVs, and the Jeep Wrangler is the King of the Hill of off-roading. Since it was introduced in 1986, the Wrangler has gone through four generations of innovation and incremental improvement, taking on and defeating other off-road SUVs from other manufacturers. The latest contender to the throne is the Ford Bronco. In comparing the 2021 Jeep Wrangler vs 2021 Ford Bronco, you will see two purpose-built vehicles with many standard features to appeal to the adventurous driver who wants to push their SUV to the limit. But while we will see many similarities between the two vehicles, there are a number of critical differences between them that should help you decide the one that is right for you when you are shopping for your next off-road SUV.

All Things Being Equal

Right off the bat, there are a number of things that the 2021 Jeep Wrangler and the 2021 Ford Bronco have in common. Both are 4X4 standard, so you don’t have to pay extra for an upgraded drivetrain. This also means that both vehicles were built from the ground up for four-wheel drive. That can’t be said for all SUVs with four-wheel or all-wheel drive, as many use front-wheel drive platforms and only feature part-time four-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Both models also come with similar designs, giving you a choice of 2-door or 4-door models. This used to be a more common feature in automotive design, but these days, most automakers offer only sedan or coupe design standard on their models. In addition, you have a number of choices of roof material, with the ability to remove the roof and side panels on both the Wrangler and Bronco, which is a fun feature, especially if you live in a warmer climate.

There are two numbers that are equal on both models. The 2021 Wrangler and 2021 Bronco can each tow up to 3,500 pounds of trailer, making them quite versatile for vehicles that have been built with off-roading in mind. They also have virtually identical base MSRPs, the Wrangler starting at $28,490 and the Bronco Base having a $28,500 MSRP.

#1. Trims and Special Editions

When you’re buying a new car, you like to know that you can have a number of choices when it comes to styling as well as features. This is why many automakers offer different trim levels and special editions on their models. Jeep and Ford are no different.

For example, Jeep offers the Wrangler in 4 different trim levels with an amazing 10 special editions. This gives you 14 different models of the 2021 Wrangler to choose from. In comparison, Ford only offers 6 different trims on the 2021 Bronco, with one special edition. This means that you have twice as many Jeep Wrangler models to choose from, giving you more options when choosing the Jeep.

Outcome: Advantage to the 2021 Jeep Wrangler.

A yellow 2021 Ford Bronco Outer Banks is shown parked on the beach.

#2. Powertrains

One of the most important items on your vehicle is the powertrain. This combination of engine and transmission will determine such things as your vehicle’s acceleration, top speed, and fuel economy. In the case of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler, you get a choice of 4 different powertrains, including a diesel option.

The first option is the 2.0-liter Turbocharged I-4 with 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. There are also two different versions of a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Both produce 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, but the one with the optional eTorque system gets better gas mileage. The optional 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 produces 260 horsepower and an incredible 442 pound-feet of torque. All of these engines come paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, with the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 also offered with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Ford only offers the 2021 Bronco with a choice of two engines. The standard engine is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost Turbocharged I-4 that provides between 270 and 300 horsepower and between 315 and 330 pound-feet of torque. It comes paired with either a 7-speed manual transmission or a 10-speed automatic transmission. There is an optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost Turbocharged V6 with a 10-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces between 310 and 325 horsepower and generates between 410 and 415 pound-feet of torque.

While both engines on the 2021 Ford Bronco provide solid performance, they can’t match the fact that you get two extra choices on the 2021 Jeep Wrangler, including a diesel.

Outcome: Advantage to the 2021 Jeep Wrangler.

#3. Fuel Economy

With gas prices on the rise all over the country, fuel economy has become more important than ever before. This is why you want to make sure that the engine on your vehicle is efficient. The issue with both the 2021 Wrangler and 2021 Bronco is that full-time four-wheel drivetrains can put a dent in gas mileage figures. Nevertheless, the best fuel economy on any model of these two vehicles is the 2021 Wrangler with the optional EcoDiesel. This will give you up to 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 29 miles per gallon on the highway.

Since the 2021 Bronco doesn’t come with a diesel engine, we will need to compare the other two engine types head-to-head. If you want an I-4 engine on your vehicle, then the Jeep Wrangler will give you better fuel economy than the Bronco. The I-4 Wrangler gets up to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway, compared to 20 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway for the I-4 Bronco. Similarly, the Wrangler with the V6 with eTorque outperforms the V6 Bronco, with 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 24 miles per gallon in highway driving, as opposed to 18 miles per gallon in the city and 20 miles per gallon on the highway.

Outcome: Advantage to the 2021 Jeep Wrangler.

A burgundy 2021 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited is shown from the side with no roof and doors.

#4. Passenger Space

Both the 2021 Jeep Wrangler and the 2021 Ford Bronco come with two-door and four-door models. The two-door models can seat up to 4 passengers, while the four-door model has room for up to 5 passengers. When it comes to passenger space, the Jeep does a better job of providing room for passengers in the rear seat. For example, on the two-door Jeep, passengers in the back seat have 41.7 inches of headroom, while the Ford only provides 40.1 inches of headroom on the 2-door Bronco.

This difference is also seen in the four-door models. The four-door Wrangler gives rear seat passengers 38.3 inches of legroom and 56.7 inches of hip room, compared to only 36.3 inches of legroom and 54.8 inches of hip room for rear row passengers in the four-door Ford Bronco. Clearly, the Wrangler is roomier than the Bronco, especially in the back seat, which can be quite cramped in the Ford.

Outcome: Advantage to the 2021 Jeep Wrangler.

#5. Infotainment Systems

For many folks, the favorite feature of their cars is the advanced infotainment system. All models of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler feature a version of the Uconnect system with either a 7-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreen. Similarly, Ford includes its SYNC system with an 8-inch touchscreen standard on the 2021 Ford Bronco. Both infotainment systems feature Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM stereo, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, making it easy for you and your passengers to connect and utilize your smart devices while in your SUV. This can sure come in handy when you’re out on the trail.

Outcome: Even.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Is Still King of the Hill

The 2021 Ford Bronco has much to recommend, with rugged styling, a choice of two solid powertrains, and a standard 4X4 system for your off-road adventures. But it just can’t compete with the 2021 Jeep Wrangler and its better powertrain options, including a diesel engine, more extensive model choices, better fuel economy, and a roomier back seat. If you are planning on heading out on the trail, then go with the 80-year legacy of Jeep, and get a 2021 Jeep Wrangler, the King of the Off-Road Hill.