Ford Bronco tested on Rubicon Trail and performs how it’s supposed to

I hate the term “clickbait”. Any well-written headline is designed to pull you into a story with a desire to read more. If that story then doesn’t deliver upon the promise of the headline, you have a problem. But if the story and headline are both good, you’ve still been baited into clicking on it. So the term is dumb. Occasionally though, there are clear examples of a headline decrying something and the article delivering junk below. And I wandered into such a story yesterday when I read a story on Autoevolution that claimed the Rubicon Trail is too hard for the Ford Bronco.

Let’s dive into why the article makes this claim first. The pictures of a trio of pre-production Ford Broncos were shown in a hotel parking lot after running the Rubicon Trail. There’s damage to the vehicles in the form of dents and scrapes on skid plates and some trail scars on the bumpers and possibly the grille on these trucks. Because of that, the sub-headline of the article states that “the Bronco appears to be struggling in this environment.”


And these pictures come from someone on Facebook who wrote the following:

So apparently the Ford Bronco engineers were spotted in Tahoe after what most likely was a trip through the Rubicon. I mean if you’re gonna trash talk the Jeeps, you gotta be able to back up your game right? The con is the only local trail other than Fordyce that one could F up new Broncos like that. Good to see them go full send in the rocks. The bad is look at all that damage. I’ve seen less damage on 3” lifted 4Runners on 33s. Sorry Ford. Either your driver’s are shitty wheelers that can’t pick a line, or it’s obvious the Bronco isn’t at home on Con like a Jeep is.
In fairness, pretty much any stockish vehicle would get super F’ed up trying to run the Con.

**Queue the Bronco leg humpers to chime in. ?

The pics

Let’s have a look at the damage, taken from Brian McCormick’s FB post:

I’m going to make an assumption here since that’s what Autoevolution and Brian have already done. My assumption is that Brian has a Jeep and he loves his Jeep. And that’s great! The Wrangler is an icon and excellent at what it does. So he sees some bruised Broncos and assumes they had serious issues on the trail. It’s possible. Autoevolution runs with that and ups the ante by saying the vehicles “struggled” and the trail is “too hardcore” for the Broncos.

How and where

Here’s the problem; we have no idea how specifically Ford was testing these pre-production vehicles. We don’t know how long they’ve been used for testing, where they’ve been tested, and in what ways the engineers want them hammered on. And yes you can bet that Ford wants these things beaten to hell and back for as many data points as possible. Those skid plates could’ve been scraped in Baja, Utah, Michigan, California, Colorado, on the Rubicon Trail, or all of those places and more. These test vehicles aren’t designed to run the trail and emerge dealer fresh on the other side. And the parts designed to protect, protected. I’d say the trucks did their job rather successfully. Scratches on a skid plate is a trail-earned badge of honor, which is the opposite notion of sparkling clean, heavily optioned Jeeps you seeing staring you down with angry eyes at your local grocery store. Often with one wheel parked up on a curb for no reason.

It’s also certainly possible that the driver took a bad line through a tough section. That can happen to anyone out on the trail, yet the protective bits still, you know, protected.

The poster of the pics also says he has “seen less damage on 3-inch lifted 4Runners on 33s.” No shit, dummy. That’s a huge lift and big tires. These are stock Broncos reportedly in Sasquatch trim. If they can run the trail stock, that’s fucking awesome. And if they get beat up on the way, they’ve earned those scratches and any owner running the trail would look at them and smile.

The original article is dumb

I’m not linking to the article, because I was annoyed I even clicked on it. I will link to the FB post because we’ve sourced the photos from there.

And look, I don’t want to simply say THREE CHEERS TO THE BRONCO here since I haven’t driven one yet. I have driven many Jeeps and they all excel at off-road adventure. The Bronco likely will too, and more vehicles that do is great for competition in the space. Companies succeed when they’re pushed. But to call out a stock vehicle running the Rubicon Trail as struggling because it wears battle scars is pretty fucking stupid. Especially when you’re talking about development vehicles that have been punished their entire lives before they head off to be crushed.

Jeep fans, don’t sell the Bronco short just because you love your trucks. Future Bronco owners, don’t shit on Jeep folks because they’ve been out there having fun for a long time now. I’ll see you both on the trail in my Montero and we can all wave and smile at each other with our dust and dirt covered rigs.

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7 responses to “Ford Bronco tested on Rubicon Trail and performs how it’s supposed to”

  1. outback_ute Avatar

    Exactly, they aren’t driving development vehicles to keep them pristine, they want to find out what happens when things get pushed too far. There’s a reason they run in convoy, with mechanics and spare parts.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Rationally, they need to know what happens when a Bronco is put in the hands of a driver who *can’t* find the proper line through a trail.

      Internet snark forces me to bring up this is the same company who makes the Mustang and don’t seem to have designed around the proclivity of owners to stuff them in walls and crowds and such.

  2. 0A5599 Avatar

    Whenever I see a headline that links to Autoevolution, I expect disappoinment when I click. Kind of like that auto site Gawker used to run.

    1. Intelligent Human Avatar
      Intelligent Human


  3. Zentropy Avatar

    Jeep has had over 30 years to sort out the Wrangler’s abilities– over 40 if you consider the Wrangler was a mild evolution of the CJ-7, and over 70 if you give credence to the genuine Willys heritage. The Bronco, on the other hand, is brand-new, entering an almost uncontested category of vehicles that Ford vacated in 1978. If they’re not taking them out on the trail with the pure intention of beating them up, then the Bronco’s development team isn’t doing their job. An unscathed test vehicle is one that wasn’t thoroughly tested.

    I love Jeeps, and many Jeep owners are awesome people who appreciate good trail rigs wearing any badge. More owners, though, are posers who brag about their vehicle’s prowess even though they’ve never dared test it themselves. Even if the Sasquatch-trimmed Bronco isn’t up to Wrangler Rubicon standards (which it may not be), it’ll be far more capable than I’ll ever need.

  4. Intelligent Human Avatar
    Intelligent Human

    They tell me Buffy can’t dance. I’ve seen the way she walks. I know she can dance.

  5. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    Haters gonna hate.