The Custom Jeep Builder

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It was requested that I bring this thread over here that I posted in the 6g Bronco forum.

Theres no cliff-notes for this. Read it or pass.

For the last 10 years I have been a Jeep enthusiast. Starting with 2 Grand Cherokees (wk2 platform) Which I heavily modified, at least as far as was reasonable at the time. www.wk2project.com.
After that, I jumped in to JL Wranglers both as a hobby and then as a builder.
www.jlrubitron.com The 1st Wrangler Build.
www.thecustomjeepbuilder.com The Passion
www.doetschoffroad.com The Shop

I am currently building my own Bronco Badlands for SEMA 2021. I will also be building for the show a 1st edition SAS, a Wildtrak SAS and another Badlands.

My Badlands (non SAS) arrived Friday so here is the initial impression of the vehicle itself, followed by a more direct comparison to Wranglers.

Initial impression Day 1-
Looks:
Looks cool. I appreciate that while they were certainly using the Wrangler as their model, there are a ton of important physical differences that give it its own personality strictly from a visual perspective. Interior is definitely nice to look at and be surrounded by while driving. Seat design and bolster are comfortable and attractive. Gauge cluster is a bit weak with top off and bright outside. Not a huge fan.
Materials: Seating, Skip the vinyl. Not impressed and gets VERY hot. Plastics in most places are very cheap (too cheap) too thin. "Oh shit" handles are too loose and flimsy to be a reassuring handle. Rear cargo plastics are very thin and off. There will be a lot of things that will come loose and make noise/rattle over the 1st few years of ownership, especially if used. Semi-normal in this segment, but if they wanted to excel they could have spent more time here.
Engine/Trans: I chose the 10spd/2.7 setup so I cannot speak to the other. While there is certainly some significant lag off the line the rest of the powertrain is quite nice. I cant imagine it with less power, (2.3) but like I said, I dont really know. It has, for its size, great around town power, passing power and fantastic gearing all around. It also really knows its place when offroading in different slow and fast situations but ill dive back in to that later.
Soft Top: I like it. I dont care for the look of the rear flap but thats my only major gripe. Taking the windows out (and back in) is straight forward. The positions of opening it are nice, and the "click" to secure it when its all the way back is nice, although it still makes some noises. Removing it completely is easy, as long as you are two tall-ish, strong-ish guys. My 5'9 16yr old kid gave it his best but scraped my roll bar on the way up and out. A bit noisier than expected.
Audio: I did not opt for the upgraded audio. BIG MISTAKE. Its really horrible. Really.

Day 1.5 real world driving
Put about 120 miles on it in the 1st day, mix of city and highway. I loved it all. Drives fantastic. It does drive BIG. If you are coming from a Jeep, a small SUV...this will feel big and wide. Bigger and wider than it really is. 1st time through tight parking lots etc youll be a bit more careful as you learn it. It felt as wide as my full size trucks. In traffic (even though it seems like it takes up the whole lane), its actually quite nimble. it glides around the road effortlessly. It likes faster. Everything with this platform seems to reward a bit of speed and momentum. Slow speed turns are a lil more awkward and require more steering effort than most in this segment. 10 spd! 10 spd! 10 spd!!!! Absolutely fantastic transmission and programmed perfectly IMO.

Day 2 off-roading. Basic Trails. (With 12 Wranglers)
So today I took it on a couple of trails mostly rated in the 3-4.5 out of 10. I spent 7 hours wheeling around Arizona at Butcher Jones, the Rolls OHV, and Bulldog Canyon. This is mostly basic trails with loose dirt, rock, river rock, banked turns, a few hill climbs, a couple of waterfall decents and some really fun high speed sandy washes.
The Bronco really shines in this category. Again, Ill make comparisons later but just straight impressions here. The 4wd modes/GOAT is all fairly intuitive. Its nice that if you shut the Bronco off on a break, it will ask if you'd like to resume that same mode at startup. Yes, thank you I do! I spent a majority of the day in 2wd, but used 4hi/baja as well as 4low/rock crawl as well.
The Bronco soaks up everything. The IFS and Bilsteins were clearly in their element.
On the trail at and avg of 13mph things were simple, comfortable and enjoyable.
The Hill climbs I mostly used baja and momentum and it conquered them all without breaking a sweat. One hill climb had very loose rock at the top 1/4 of the hill as well as a very high angle. It did require 4lo and both lockers but once engaged it pulled up it like it was nothing. It did take a bit longer to engage than I cared for though.
The washes. Oh my. It is very hard to unsettle this Bronco! Baja engaged and foot to the floor. The electronic nannies allowed a perfect amount of "fun-having" while keeping it all well balanced. Ruts/woops were very much welcome and soaked up by the suspension much better than expected. I have a Ram TRX as well so this is high praise. The Bronco had poise throughout all of the paces I put it through. I very much want to run a wildtrak through this same section.

OK, so how does it compare to a Wrangler?!?!
Dammit...I really wish this wasnt a question, because it SHOULDNT be. Yet here we are.

-It is NOT a Wrangler. Stop the comparisons, stop the wiener measurements, stop the hate. They are different and thats a good thing! The Bronco 100% has better daily driver manners, there is no question. The Bronco definitely enjoys high speed anything more than the Wrangler. The Wrangler 100% excels in Rock Crawling. Everything else comes down to a matter of opinion. They arent the same nor were they meant to be.

-GO OUT WITH WRANGLER GROUPS! If you do not come from an offroad background, the Wrangler guys will teach you alot even though they are vastly different. Other IFS rigs (tacomas and the like) honestly do not hold a candle to the Bronco and in most cases you can run similar lines to the Wranglers. Plus theres lots of them doing lots of things. Be friendly, we do not bite. Whatever trash talking you hear at 730am at the trailhead will be gone by 9. ;)

-The Bronco both fills a gap, and takes away some of Jeeps thunder. A large majority of Wrangler owners have Sports and Saharas. They are still very capable off-road, sans lockers and low range. They have great articulation (especially once modified) that allow them to do so fairly difficult things easily. Rubicons are a different creature and at the end of the day whatever level Sasquatch you get stock vs stock or modified vs modified will never be able to rock crawl (7 and up trails) like a Rubicon. Please do not think it will. It cannot. It isnt supposed to (yet).

-The Bronco is a better place to spend time in. It looks good, it feels good. If you are commuting a lot, or love road trips...it wins.

-The Wrangler fit & finish is better all around, and thats not saying much for either of em!

-Bronco wins the transmission war and I really love the JL 8speed.

-2.7 is > 2.0 or 3.6
-2.7 is < 3.0d or 6.4

-The power of the 2.7 and its very smart 10spd is phenomenal offroad both in slow and high speed offroading. The additional tuning changes with the GOAT modes make it enjoyable in all situations. There was really no where I was expecting or needing more power or being in the proper gear.

-Bronco braking is better.

IMO
In my opinion, most Wrangler sport/sahara owners that test drive a Bronco (if they like the looks of it) will strongly consider moving to a Bronco. Rightfully so. Rubicon owners like myself (ones that use them to the extreme) will stay put. But I sure like having the Bronco in the stable!!

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hoag4147

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Loved all the hate comments over there questioning your rock crawling comparison LOL. Nice write up. Will try to follow mods for SEMA build. Curious to see.
 

rallydefault

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I'm glad you brought this over - I saw it on the other forum and really appreciated it for the honesty.

A lot of people still won't really read it to get your point: These are different vehicles and shouldn't even be compared in the first place. But the reality of the market is that they will be, so here we are.

Goes back to that key concept of people vehicle shopping need to just be honest with themselves: Am I looking to buy a vehicle that fits my needs or a vehicle that fits my wants? And then go from there.
 

aldo98229

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Thank you for the review.

IMO, what makes Wrangler so unique is its combination of solid axles and Quadra-Coil suspension.

The same features that make our heads bob side-to-side on the trails and the steering wander all over the road, give Wrangler its great articulation and that gratifying feeling of capability. Without them, Wrangler would drive and feel just like any other vehicle.

I don’t doubt the OP when he predicts that a lot of Sport and Sahara owners will opt for a Bronco. Perhaps, but I won’t. If I wanted a “good driving” SUV, I’d get a Grand Cherokee or a Ford Escape and be done.

He also appears to infer that all Rubicon owners are extreme off-roaders. That’s not true, either. Not by a long shot.

There’s something very unique about driving a Wrangler, on road and off. You either love it or you don’t.

Mathematically speaking, no doubt a proportion of the 250,000 households buying a Wrangler every year don’t care, and they will be fine with a Bronco...or a Tacoma.

But if you love how Wrangler drives and makes you feel, there just isn’t anything else like it. Period.
 
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Badfish

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I love the look of the bronco and was in line for one. My deciding factor was the negative accumulation of delays, dealership experience, and lack of rear a/c(I live in AZ). Plus, I have always loved the wrangler and have had one in the past (88 YJ).

But in the end it will be a great vehicle and has already demonstrated capability. Most people are road warriors and the casual offroader like me.
 

Outrun

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I saw a 4 door Sasquatch in person this morning while I was getting coffee. Hard pass. The thing is massive just like how the 90's Broncos were. Big fat bloated shit with all the suspension components hanging way down waiting to meet their maker.
 

rcadden

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I appreciate the balanced thoughts.

As a first time Wrangler owner who went with a Sahara, I would totally have bought a Bronco and loved it if they were actually available this summer. My ride will be more of a family-road-tripper-who-can-do-fun-stuff-once-we're-there as opposed to a straight up rock crawler, and it sounds like the Bronco would have been perfect for that.
 

RubiSc0tt

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Good review. Thanks for the honest thought and thoroughly put it through its paces. I love my Rubi, and will not be moving from Jeep. However, the Bronco is a hell of a vehicle Ford did a great job with. Sound like they both have improvements to make elsewhere. I'm looking forward to seeing them in the wild and on the trail, and any of my non-gearhead friends who are considering a Bronco, I will definitely share this feedback with them. At this point, anything that gets people on the trail and stoked to play with their trucks in the dirt and rocks, I'm for it.
 

old mike

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All things considered, this new Bronco sounds like one of the best station wagons on the market, bar none. I'm sure it's going to fit the needs of a lot of folks and a lot of folks are going to love it. Get one and go out and make some great family travel memories.
 

aldo98229

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Ford sales are taking a beating this year.

Ford sales in July shrunk 31% from the same period last year. Ford sales for the first 7 months if 2021 are 1% down in a market that is up 20%.

According to Auto News, Ford sold 3,300 Broncos in July and 2,300 Bronco Sports. But that wasn't enough to make up for steep declines everywhere else.

Ford appears to have lost the ability to walk and chew at the same time.

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1quick1

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Nice write up. I grew up in eye shot of the Overland smoke tunnels at the Toledo Jeep plant. My family would disown me :) but in seriousness it's a cool looking rig and good for competition.
 

multicam

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Thanks for the write-up!

“It was requested that I bring this thread over here that I posted in the 6g Bronco forum.”

Requested as in “hey it would be cool to see how the jeep guys respond to this. Can you post it over on the jl forums?” or requested as in “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE ASSHOLE, GO SHARE THIS WITH YOUR KIND OF PEOPLE ON THE JEEP FORUMS!”

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rcadden

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I really don't understand the hatred and butthurtedness that Jeep people seem to have about the Bronco. It's the same in my local Jeep FB group.

No one denies that FCA has gotten complacent with the Jeep, specifically the Wrangler, in terms of innovation, design, features, pricing, options, damn near everything. They've gotten complacent because they knew that the only "competition" they've faced for years was the 4runner, and even that's not exactly what I would consider "competition".

So now there's a new player on the field. Different, absolutely, but also coming from Ford, which has the scale and resources to really put the hurt on FCA's sales if they want. So now Jeep is a bit worried, "Oh no, there's a new horse in the stable" (haha, yeah, I had to).

As Jeep enthusiasts, you should be cheering and rooting for the Bronco to be AMAZING. Bronco's success can only bring GOOD things to Jeep (and thus, to you). It will pressure Jeep to do things like the Xtreme Recon package, be more aggressive in price, features, options, innovation, etc.

There's no world in which the Bronco being successful has a negative impact on the Jeep community in any way that matters.
 

Outrun

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I really don't understand the hatred and butthurtedness that Jeep people seem to have about the Bronco. It's the same in my local Jeep FB group.

No one denies that FCA has gotten complacent with the Jeep, specifically the Wrangler, in terms of innovation, design, features, pricing, options, damn near everything. They've gotten complacent because they knew that the only "competition" they've faced for years was the 4runner, and even that's not exactly what I would consider "competition".

So now there's a new player on the field. Different, absolutely, but also coming from Ford, which has the scale and resources to really put the hurt on FCA's sales if they want. So now Jeep is a bit worried, "Oh no, there's a new horse in the stable" (haha, yeah, I had to).

As Jeep enthusiasts, you should be cheering and rooting for the Bronco to be AMAZING. Bronco's success can only bring GOOD things to Jeep (and thus, to you). It will pressure Jeep to do things like the Xtreme Recon package, be more aggressive in price, features, options, innovation, etc.

There's no world in which the Bronco being successful has a negative impact on the Jeep community in any way that matters.
It goes more like this-

"The Bronco is a metric shit ton better than the Jeep" -Bronco fan

"Oh yeah, how so?" -Jeeper

"The IFS DESTROYS the Jeep" -Bronco fan

"No, the video shows (insert facts here)" -Jeeper

"Why are you so butthurt!" -Bronco fan
 
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