Skip to main content
2021 Ford Bronco front

Long-Term 2021 Ford Bronco 20K-Mile Update: Still Fun but Still Troublesome

A suitable road trip partner, when it isn't leaking oil on your driveway

  • We've driven our long-term Bronco more than 20,000 miles.
  • It's cool but it's not for everyone.
  • Reliability has been an issue.

You might know that we have a Ford Bronco as part of our fleet of long-term test vehicles. It's a 2021 Bronco First Edition and it's appeared in our Bronco versus Wrangler 4xe video and Bronco Raptor Test video, among others. We've also been living with it and reporting on the ownership experience on our Bronco long-term test page. What you might not know is that we've recently cleared 20,000 miles on it.

Getting to 20K is a milestone for us and I thought I'd give you a quick summary of what's been happening as of late. You can check out our previous Bronco 10,000-mile report as well.

Still fun

Would you expect anything less? This is a traditional SUV with mongo tires, a removable roof and distinctive styling. Get it out into nature and you're bound to enjoy the experience.

Here's a quote from News Editor Nick Yekikian on a recent winter weather foray in our Bronco:

"I took the Bronco from Los Angeles to Big Bear, California, for a ski trip and had a little play in the snow. Whether it was sleet, snow, rain, or any other sort of inclement weather, the Bronco felt pretty much indomitable. While I engaged the Slippery drive mode just to be on the safe side, it never felt like the Bronco wanted for traction, and not once did we need to pop on our set of snow chains! The whole weekend made me thankful we had such a competent go-anywhere do-anything vehicle in our long-term fleet.

"As if that wasn't enough, it handily swallowed four adults and all their gear for the long weekend away. I support two-door Bronco ownership, personally, but the extra storage space behind the second row offered by the four-door has me rethinking that idea."

2021 Ford Bronco Front

Still compromised

But yes, our Bronco is still not for everyone. Senior Writer and Content Strategist Will Kaufman has posted a number of critical comments in our logbook. Here's one of his entries:

"I wish the Bronco's driver aids were better. The adaptive cruise is too aggressive to accelerate, and too conservative about braking. After the first time the adaptive cruise was way too slow to brake, and wound up triggering the automatic emergency braking system, I took over braking duties myself. It's just unnerving, and not well tuned. Also, the system deactivates under 5 mph (or at least, that's when I noticed it turning off). It's the 2020s, Ford, you figure this out.

"The lane-keep assist system also feels inconsistent. On a straight road, you get the slightest sense of a ghostly hand just teasing the wheel to keep you in your lane, but there's almost no resistance when you override it, so it's not actually that difficult to drift out of your lane. But then in curves it can feel way, way more aggressive, tugging the vehicle to the side."

2021 Ford Bronco grille

Still troublesome

Our Bronco First Edition has had its fair share of issues since we bought it, too. Early on, the rear tailgate door handle stopped working. We've also had electrical gremlins, as detailed in our 10,000-mile update. Most recently? The front differential leaked and piddled oil on the driveway of Will Kaufman's sister-in-law's house over the winter holidays.

I imagine Will was righteously angry but it probably depends on whether he likes his sister-in-law. Maybe it was secretly satisfying, similar perhaps to owning a dog and letting it take a dump in the front yard of that neighbor you hate because he keeps you up at night with loud parties cranking Nickelback. I'll have to ask Will about it.

In the meantime, you can read all about it in our Bronco Leaky Differential and Long Service Waits article.

Edmunds says

It's been a polarizing 20,000 miles of Bronco Country for our team. To the haters, I can plausibly picture our Bronco shrugging its shoulders and saying, in a voice similar to Sam Elliott's, "You want boring and comfy? Buy a Nissan Murano."