- We take the Bronco Everglades on an off-road adventure.
- The Everglades is a new trim geared toward rock crawling and fording.
- Snorkel and unique fenders are among the upgrades.
Drummond Island sits on the easternmost edge of Michigan's Upper Peninsula — an experienced swimmer could take off from one of its beaches and cross the Canadian border in about 15 minutes. The island is primarily accessible by ferry from the village of DeTour, and its 129 square miles hosts a population of just above 1,000 souls.
Why do I mention this remote island in the middle of Lake Huron? Because Drummond Island is also home to over 100 miles of trails that wind through heavy woods and absolutely punish ATV and off-road vehicles. And it's here that Ford hosted the media launch of the Bronco Everglades — a Bronco variant designed to handle the low-speed rock crawling and fording that the island offers. Here's how the Bronco Everglades performed in an environment that pushed the limits of vehicle and driver alike.
Some housekeeping before we take a journey off the beaten path. The Everglades is a new trim level for the 2022 Bronco that starts its life as the off-road-themed Black Diamond. It also sports the Sasquatch package — available on all Bronco trims, it includes a suspension lift, locking front and rear differentials, and 35-inch mud-terrain tires — the feature-heavy Mid package, and singular options like a hardtop and heavy-duty front bumper.
From there, the Bronco Everglades adds unique fender flares, a heavy-duty winch by Warn, marine-grade vinyl upholstery, and an air intake snorkel to allow deeper fording. That snorkel features an interesting reversible plate that prevents the engine from inhaling damaging particulate matter. The Everglades also has a cool graphic ahead of the front wheels and is available in a trim-exclusive Desert Sand color. Neither is functional, of course, but both help the Everglades stand out from other Bronco trims.
The Bronco Everglades is available with only one powertrain: the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. While some may bemoan the fact that you can't opt for a manual transmission or the turbocharged V6, I didn't miss either while putting the Everglades through its paces. But more on that later.
The Everglades drive started on pavement at a hotel near the trailhead, and I immediately jumped into a Desert Sand example. While my on-road experience with the vehicle was admittedly limited, the Bronco Everglades rode well enough on the road. Even though everything about this truck-based SUV is geared toward maximizing performance in adverse conditions, like other Broncos, it's perfectly agreeable in everyday situations. The one noticeable difference was the unique whoosh of the snorkel gulping air, which was most noticeable at higher revs with the passenger window rolled down. I enjoyed the aural distinction between the Everglades and other Broncos, but drivers not enamored can simply roll up the window to block the intake noise.
But the Bronco Everglades' true moment to shine comes when you venture into the wilderness. Since it's based on the Black Diamond trim level with the Sasquatch package, the Everglades is inherently capable. The Black Diamond's rock rails and underbody skid plates provide protection from sharp obstacles in the road, while the Sasquatch's larger tires and suspension lift give the Bronco additional ground clearance. Those, plus the Bronco's nifty G.O.A.T. modes (for "goes over any type of terrain") — which allow the driver to alter traction settings based on the terrain you're tackling — ensure that the Bronco doesn't get stuck in the mud or on slippery hills. Indeed, over the course of our five-hour-plus off-road trek, the Everglades rarely struggled for grip.
And in case you get really stuck, you can always use the included Warn winch to pull yourself out. With a 10,000-pound rating and 100 feet of synthetic line, the winch has more than enough power to extract the Bronco from perilous situations. Our group purposely navigated a Bronco Everglades into a tough spot on some rock shelves known as the Steps at Marble Head, then attached the winch hook to an anchoring Bronco at the top to drive itself up. Winch: tested and approved.
It wasn't long into our drive that the Everglades' other unique addition justified its inclusion. You see, Drummond Island is dotted with pits, and it just so happened to rain a few days before our arrival. Those pits had turned to ponds — perfect for testing the new snorkel and the Everglades' 36.4-inch fording depth. Sloshing through the dirty muck revealed a few things. Even when wading to depths that brought water well above the bottom of the door line, the Bronco drew in air without issue. Also, the drain plugs on the floor held, meaning none of the pond water made its way into the cabin. The Bronco's doors are pretty light and are meant to be removed, yet those seals held as well. And hidden rocks littered throughout were no problem; nobody in our group blew out or punctured the Goodyear Territory MT tires.
The only flaw I could find with the Bronco Everglades is that it doesn't offer the forward-facing off-road camera available on other models. The winch essentially blocks the view ahead, so Ford couldn't include the camera, which is normally a terrifically useful feature if you don't have a spotter navigating your vehicle around tall rocks or over crests. Not making this feature available runs contrary to the Everglades' low-speed rock-crawling focus. Hopefully Ford can remedy this in the near future.
A turbocharged V6 engine is optional on most Bronco variants, but the Everglades makes do with the base turbocharged four-cylinder. There's no doubt the latter is down on power, but with 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, it has plenty of thrust both on-road and off. And since the Everglades is primarily concerned with amping up the Bronco's low-speed rock-crawling abilities, the extra power afforded by the V6 at higher revs is pretty much a moot point. The four-cylinder's low-end torque is more than enough to help the Everglades conquer obstacles in its path.
The also-new-for-2022 Bronco Raptor is aimed at high-speed desert running, with a potent version of the V6, a heavy-duty suspension, Fox shocks and a lofty price tag. The Everglades has more modest goals in mind, and we think it's a more approachable vehicle for it.
The new Everglades is a worthy addition to the 2022 Ford Bronco lineup. While the Bronco Raptor is best suited for blowing through ruts and dunes, the Everglades excels at the low-speed technical bits. A forward-facing camera for off-road use is the only item on our wish list.