New Ford Bronco vs. Original Ford Bronco: The Case Against Nostalgia

New Ford Bronco vs. Original Ford Bronco: The Case Against Nostalgia

Patience is a virtue. It will also get you a better Bronco.

  • Although right now you can only buy an old Bronco, it's a very good idea to wait for the new Bronco.
  • The 2021 Bronco's base four-cylinder engine is 30% more powerful than the original Bronco's V8! Come on, man!
  • If you're torn between looking cool and being comfortable, the new Bronco begs the question: "Why not both?"

Let's face it. We wouldn't be quite so interested in the 2021 Ford Bronco if the original Bronco weren't so dang cool. Even with the new Bronco nearly upon us, it's still tempting to rush out and get your Bronco fix by scooping up an iconic first-generation offering.

But just in case you're engaged in a stare down with that temptation, we're going to do a quick comparison between the old and new Broncos. Spoiler alert: You're probably going to want to wait for the new one.

Under the hood

Just like the upcoming Bronco, the original one had a choice of two engines. At first glance, it looks like the original Bronco has the upper hand, offering a 2.8-liter inline six-cylinder as well as a 4.7-liter V8 engine. Game, set and match, right there. Who wouldn't want a V8 in their Bronco?

But if you care about raw power, you'd actually be better off opting for the new Bronco's 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It's estimated to make 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, while the 2.8-liter inline-six of the old Bronco makes, uh, 105 hp. And if you're expecting the ancient 4.7-liter V8 to take the newfangled turbo-four to the woodshed, you've got something else coming. That old lump might make nice noises, but it was only good for around 200 hp.

Just to rub in it, the optional 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 in the new Bronco is good for 310 hp and a whopping 400 lb-ft — so if the idea of a four-banger in a Bronco has got your haterade flowing, Ford has a compelling retort. Sure, you don't get to shift the V6 for yourself, but in the original Bronco you'd only have three speeds to choose from, whether you opted for the automatic or the column-mounted (three on the tree!) manual transmission.

Off the grid

Going off-roading is more of the same. The old Bronco had 4WD and a two-speed transfer case, which is a good start. It could go pretty much anywhere, too, and Ford marketed the Bronco as a sports car with four-wheel drive. But it was pretty utilitarian, which is a nice way of saying crude, so even minor adventures could be quite the ordeal. Compared to the new Bronco's shift-on-the-fly 4WD system, the old Bronco requires you to stop, jump out and manually lock the front hubs to allow for four-wheel operation. That's fun in your driveway, but not in the rain, mud, dust, snow … you get the idea. And the old Bronco didn't have the new one's multimode terrain settings, which enable even beginner off-road drivers to handle tricky and unfamiliar environments. Unless you're an old hand at off-roading, you're going to go farther in the new Bronco. Actually, the old hand is going to go farther in the new Bronco too.

Configurations and creature comforts

The old Bronco came in three pretty nifty configurations. You had the wagon (that's the two-door hardtop version we're all familiar with), the pickup and the roadster, which came with neither doors nor roof. Three choices are better than the new Bronco's two (two- and four-door only), but with the original roadster being wildly impractical and even the pickup-truck version only having questionable value, the new Bronco's body options make a lot more sense. And, hey, you can always take the doors off the new Bronco.

Then there are the creature comforts. The old Bronco gives you a heater. And seats. Radios weren't a thing on the early models, and neither were things like carpet, insulation or storage bins. Some might call that authentic; we call it rudimentary. Old Broncos are so bare-bones that anything longer than a drive to your local Cars and Coffee might be too far for anyone not truly dedicated to the vintage experience. Given the choice, we'd rather be comfortable than quaint.

Edmunds says

The original Broncos are undeniably cool. They possess iconic aesthetics, encourage light-hearted adventures, and recall a time when vehicles were much more uncomplicated. But unless you're a collector or have another space in your garage for some weekend fun, we'd recommend you stay patient and wait for the 2021 Bronco. It has most of the original's good looks along with all the modern amenities that make everyday driving and weekend adventuring alike more fun. Keep it tuned to Edmunds to stay current on the 2021 Ford Bronco.