What's New for 1996
Trick new turn signal system is embedded in sideview mirrors. Otherwise, minor trim changes mark the passing of the last Bronco.
Nothing more need be said about a Bronco than, "This is one big truck." One of the bully boys of sport utilities, it's a favorite of celebrities, of adventurers--and of thousands of ordinary folks who like to feel they're in full command at the wheel, whether rolling down the Interstate or bumping and lurching through the underbrush.
Chevrolet's latest Tahoe and the similar GMC Yukon now come in two body styles, but the Bronco suffices with just one: a three-door available in four trim levels: XL, XLT, XLT Sport and Eddie Bauer. Three V8 powertrains are available: a 5.0-liter with a five-speed gearbox or four-speed automatic, or a 210-horsepower, 5.8-liter V8 that's equipped only with an automatic. California-bound 5.8-liter engines are converted to mass airflow fuel metering and sequential fuel injection, to meet emissions standards. All Broncos have part-time, dual-range four-wheel-drive. Five-passenger seating is standard, with firm buckets up front, but a six-seat variation can be ordered.
Headroom is massive, in an interior that looks exactly the same as an F-Series pickup truck. That includes a column-mounted automatic-transmission gearshift and old-time front vent windows that actually open--a feature long since forgotten on most vehicles, but a welcome bonus on warm days.
New this year is a trick turn signaling system first displayed on the 1995 GT90 show car. Embedded in the side view mirror surfaces are turn signal indicators that motorists following the Bronco can see blinking, but the driver cannot. The system doesn't obstruct the driver's view through or use of the mirrors, day or night. The system is standard on the Bronco XLT Sport, optional on XLT and Eddie Bauer models.
Other improvements include a new bumper designed to aid engine cooling, an improved hub locking system, and the deletion of the anti-theft system. XL and XLT models get black interior trimmings while the Eddie Bauer model is saddled with woodgrain trim inside. The accent color on the Eddie Bauer changes to a new shade of tan for 1996.
Despite its many merits, Ford's Explorer looks tame, if not puny, next to a Bronco. Vehicles don't come much sturdier. Anyone who goes for serious trucking can't help but put a Bronco near the head of the think-about-it list. Prices aren't bad for this brand of roughness, but the payments don't stop after you drive a Bronco home. This is no lightweight, and that 32-gallon fuel tank is going to need frequent filling.