If you’re a serious off-roader, chances are you’ve been closely following the reintroduction of the Ford Bronco since its debut in the 2021 model year. How could you not? Its advanced 4×4 technology combined with its Wrangler-esque but cooler exterior make this one of the most exciting developments of the off-road automotive world in the past decade. One of the finest vehicles among the Bronco family is the Bronco Wildtrak. This four-door, five-seat Bronco delivers serious off-roading capabilities, which are hard to pass up when you see them at your Ford Bronco dealer. However, as you’ve probably heard by now, Ford recently announced a new upcoming addition to the Bronco lineup: the Bronco Raptor.
Very little is known about the Bronco Raptor so far, so a big question is whether to pull the trigger now and buy a Bronco Wildtrak or whether to hold off and buy a Bronco Raptor. Hmm…a difficult question, indeed. You may be tempted to pull the trigger today and avoid the upcoming crowds at your Ford Bronco dealer following the release of the Raptor, but you’ll most certainly want to learn more about the Raptor before making that decision.
Let’s begin by covering the basics of the Bronco lineup. The Bronco line was re-introduced in the 2021 model year with an all-new model. The Bronco is designed to be a serious off-roading vehicle with the most advanced 4×4 and durability engineering on the market. The vehicle is unique in its geometric design, producing the most profound off-roading construction in the automotive industry.
The Bronco hosts an approach angle of 43.2 degrees. The two-door Bronco is able to have a maximum departure angle of 37.2 degrees, while the four-door model can have a maximum departure angle of up to 37.0 (an impressively small difference, given the length added by the extra doors). Additionally, the 2-door model can offer a maximum breakover angle of 29 degrees, while the four-door model can offer 26.3 degrees. The Bronco holds best-in-class ground clearance with 11.6 inches of clearance on the two-door model and 11.5 inches on the four-door model. Finally, the Bronco has the potential to reach best-in-class water fording capability of 33.5 inches.
To protect this geometric feat of engineering, the Bronco line is protected with steel bash plates. These are critical if you are going to be taking full advantage of the vehicle’s terrific off-roading capabilities, and they will give you a more carefree experience knowing that the underbody of the vehicle is well-protected. There are upgrades that offer additional bash plates, and certain trims offer different standard bash plates, but no matter what, the Bronco is well-taken care of.
The Bronco comes standard with a High-Performance Off-Road Stability Suspension (HOSS), which is the name for the vehicle’s combination of rear axle, springs, and shocks that keep the vehicle securely planted during off-road excursions. This is further advanced by the Sasquatch package, which is available on the Wildtrak.
The presence of electronic front and rear locking differentials allows both wheels on either axle to rotate at the same speed and provides an even supply of power between the two, thus bringing about high levels of control in all kinds of terrain. If you’re going to be off-roading (which I would assume you will be if you are looking to buy a Bronco), then you will most certainly appreciate these locking differentials.
One of the most advanced and impressive features of the Bronco is the ability of its front stabilizer bar to disconnect. If you are going to be living up to the G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) philosophy of the Bronco by rock crawling, then you will very much appreciate this feature. The stabilizer bar disconnects while rock crawling in order to allow the front tires to move up and down independently of each other. The Bronco doesn’t just drive off-road; it climbs.
The Ford Bronco Wildtrak
As mentioned above, the Wildtrak is a four-door, five-seat Bronco trim. Its 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine produces 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Because it is Built Wild, the vehicle hosts advanced four-wheel drive and chassis technology to make it a durable off-road vehicle. While all Bronco models come standard with H.O.S.S., the Bronco Wildtrak has the option (with the Sasquatch package) of Advanced H.O.S.S., which comes with Bilstein position-sensitive dampers. The Bilstein shocks contain internal hydraulic end stop control valves. This system works to provide a serenely smooth experience inside the car, no matter how bumpy and rough the terrain on which the vehicle is operating.
The Ford Bronco Raptor
As of yet, we do not know much about the Ford Bronco Raptor. What we do know is that it is a four-door model. The Raptor is expected to ride higher even than the Sasquatch models. It is anticipated that the Raptor will use the same engine as the F-150 Raptor, which is the turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6, producing 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. If this is so, it will have a 140 horsepower advantage over the Wildtrak, which is not a negligible difference.
Pros of the Wildtrak
The two biggest pros of the Wildtrak are that you know exactly what you are getting, and you don’t have to wait for it. This model is tried and true, yet brand-new. While the basic Wildtrak is a strong choice in and of itself, the availability of the Sasquatch package provides the opportunity for even more heightened (literally, with 35-inch tires) capabilities. Don’t forget that, by obtaining the Sasquatch package, the Wildtrak is able to host the Advanced H.O.S.S. system with Bilstein Position-Sensitive Dampers, as described above. With its 77.6 cubic feet of cargo space, the Wildtrak is ready to hit the road (or off-road). The best part about all of this is that you can get it today.
Pros of the Raptor
Well, as described above, the Raptor is speculated to perform at a higher level than the Wildtrak, estimated to have a horsepower advantage of 140. It will be a higher ride than the Wildtrak, even with the Sasquatch package, which is significant, seeing as the Sasquatch package provides 35-inch tires. Additionally, on a stylistic level, it will replace the Bronco-printed grille with a Ford-printed grille. Its off-roading capabilities are set to top those of the Wildtrak (which, based on what the Wildtrak can do, will be one fine piece of automotive machinery), and it will, of course, have the novelty of being the newest, most exciting model.
Cons of the Wildtrak
The biggest con of purchasing the Wildtrak is that you know there will be a “better” model closely following it with the Raptor. But, maybe you don’t need all that the Raptor is promising. Another thing to consider about the Wildtrak is that it is much more similar to all of its current counterparts than the Raptor will be.
Cons of the Raptor
The two biggest cons of the Raptor, by far, is the fact that you have to wait for it and that so little is currently known about the vehicle. Its performance will be excellent (we assume), but it is set to debut in the 2023 model year, with sales beginning in 2022. If you want to get behind the wheel of a Bronco now, then the Wildtrak is the way to go, but if you’re willing to wait, you’ll probably have more fun in the Raptor.
So Which Way?
Of course, I cannot answer this question for you. You may call it a cop-out, but the truth is that there is no wrong way to go here; both the Bronco Wildtrak and the Bronco Raptor will be very fine off-road vehicles with stellar engineering. If you’re looking for something that is new, excellent, and exciting, but not the most expensive option on the market, then the Wildtrak will serve you very well, and it seems that you will not look back on your decision. But, if you have the funds and the patience, the Raptor is set to be the most exciting Bronco yet. Either way, it is very exciting that Ford has brought back the Bronco lineup. It most certainly is one of the finest off-road vehicles on the market right now, and both the Wildtrak and the Raptor will give you the ride of your life.