We’re barely a month or so away from the 2021 Ford Bronco finally poking out from underneath all that cladding, and that’s typically when more consequential information rolls in before the car’s ready for primetime. In late may, we learned more about its seven-speed manual transmission, its infotainment system and tire setup. Now, an anonymous source sent in these photos confirming a crawler gear for its manual transmission, as well as a closer look at its engine, suspension and roof arrangement.
A seven-speed with a twist
Rumors have circulated for months that the Ford Bronco could get a seven-speed manual transmission, dating all the way back to late 2018. Our last update on the Bronco confirmed its existence, but there was a bit of a twist. Rather than having seven gears for driving on the road, you’d instead get six forward gears (like most other modern manual cars) and one low-speed crawler gear for off-road applications. We didn’t have any visual confirmation at the time, but now the shot above of the shifter shows a “C”, which most reasonably translates to “crawl”.
Old-school manual transmissions would have an “L” or low gear intended for slow speeds, with the other forward gears lined up beyond it for actual road use. Having an extremely low gear will help the 2021 Ford Bronco with its crawl ratio, but that’s not the only piece of good news for off-road enthusiasts.
We had it on good authority that the 2021 Ford Bronco would use the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine as the Ranger pickup. Our source secured one photo looking under the hood, where that does indeed seem to be the case. In the Ranger, that engine produces 270 and 310 lb-ft of torque, though Ford may tune it differently for the new Bronco. In addition to the seven-speed manual, Ford should also provide their 10-speed automatic transmission as an option.
The Bronco will also have front and rear locking diffs, electronic sway bar disconnect
These new photos also show more off-road gear in store for the 2021 Ford Bronco. At least on the appropriate trims, Ford has installed switches for front and rear lockers. To the left of those switches, there’s also an electronic sway bar disconnect, like what’s available in the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
In the Bronco, Ford seems to have mounted the switches on top of the center stack above the infotainment screen, next to the traction control and hazard switches. At least in this prototype, Ford took an interesting approach as they seem to be rubberized toggle switches with the symbols behind them as indicator lights, but that may or may not make it into the final design.
Another photo shows how the Bronco’s drivetrain looks from below:
More on the suspension
Crawl underneath the 2021 Ford Bronco as our source did, and this prototype reveals even more secrets before the official debut. The yellow shock absorbers in the photo below show long coil springs with remote reservoir shocks. Here, you can also see the upper and lower control arms, which again shows the Bronco will have independent front suspension (unlike the Wrangler’s solid front axle).
Our source says these particular shock absorbers are Bilstein units with remote reservoirs. The design looks similar to some Bilstein products, but in this instance we can’t confirm that beyond a shadow of doubt. The yellow hue typically gives the game away, but these shocks just look dirty from an afternoon of desert bashing.
Roof clips, more interior shots
Our source also snapped a few interior shots of the 2021 Ford Bronco. Here, we can see a roof arrangement similar to that of the Jeep Wrangler. There’s a central latch you twist to secure the roof panel in place, plus one more latch on each side where the panel assembly meets the windshield.
As for the second interior shot, we can also see the 4WD selector switch situated in the 2021 Ford Bronco. It’s just below the media and climate controls in the center stack. As you’d expect with Ford’s other selectable four-wheel drive systems, there’s a 2WD, 4-High and 4-Lo setting on the knob.
Once again, we see the large central infotainment screen (you can see it actually functioning here), which will use Ford’s SYNC 4 infotainment system and undoubtedly come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and should use a premium B&O sound system on higher trims. This particular Bronco also has auto stop/start, parking sensors, heated mirrors and a camera system. We haven’t been able to tell if it’s a full 360-degree camera setup yet, but that would give the Bronco an advantage on the Wrangler.
Finally, we can see in more detail the silver trim surrounding the infotainment system as well. That extends out to cover the whole dashboard it appears, with “BRONCO” emblazoned on the plastic in front of the passenger.
As with Ford’s half-ton and heavy duty trucks, the 2021 Ford Bronco will also have six upfitter switches, to the Wrangler Rubicon’s four from the factory:
There’s still plenty left to discover with the 2021 Ford Bronco, so stay tuned for our comprehensive coverage* (see below) when the car finally does emerge in July.
*UPDATE 6/11/2020: Since we posted this story, Ford has disinvited TFL from the upcoming reveal events for the Bronco and F-150. As a result, we will not be covering those models as we originally intended, but do have another update coming very soon, so stay tuned!