I’ve recently consolidated my fleet of automobiles down from five (!) at the height of the pandemic, down to two. Of course one of them is my wife’s beloved Toyota 4Runner, a staple of our garage, our travels and our shared life for the last six years. The other is a new (to me) Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. My last consolidation was to sell my BMW 328i outright and then trade-in my 2013 Jeep Wrangler JK on the new one. The egregious state of disrepair of Michigan roads, plus the state of my knees, has convinced me that a sporty sedan is no longer a viable choice of transportation or entertainment.
The process of paring down the fleet got me thinking though. I adore the Jeep Wrangler (I had my last one 8 years, the longest I’ve owned any vehicle). But what about this new Ford Bronco? I mean as of this writing the Ford Bronco has been out in the wild (pun intended) for some time, but now I’m really starting to notice them. And the vehicle, along with it’s owners, feel like kindred spirits to this long time Jeep owner. I’ve seen plenty of Jeeps with top and doors removed, but last weekend I saw a Bronco similarly stripped down for a journey and I had to nod with approval (and almost gave the driver the ‘Jeep’ wave).
I know this is going to come across as blasphemy to the hard-core Jeep faithful, but Ford has genuinely opened a door by rejuvenating the Bronco. Sadly Chevrolet has missed the opportunity to join the party by making the new Blazer simply another cross-over. GM fans have much to lament as the only real 4×4 SUVs left in the GM stable are the Tahoe/Yukon family with price tags approaching 100 grand. Toyota soldiers on with the 4Runner, nicely loaded in the mid $40s. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited in Rubicon trim meanwhile is well over $50K and they can’t make them fast enough. With all the lamentation about the demise of gasoline powered vehicles, it seems the last gasp of internal combustion is going to be a real treat.
I know there are some who look at the Jeep/Bronco/4Runner as unnecessary lifestyle vehicles, but even taking that ‘accusation’ at face value it’s no more egregious than a high powered luxury car as a status symbol on wheels. My new JLU has enough dust in the interior and a faint patina of mud from my first couple of weeks of ownership to give it a shadow of credibility as a vehicle run off-the-beaten path. But even if your biggest adventure amounts to a trip to the mall, I won’t look at you funny. To each their own. I grew up running trucks hard in places they might not have been intended to be and dirt bikes in places they were intended to be. I’ve got nothing to prove, and I’m fine admitting my old Jeep Wrangler rarely saw the trail but often saw the winding backcountry dirt roads.
In conclusion, I’ll simply say that I’m glad, even at this late hour in the days of internal combustion, that you can still buy a vehicle made to go places and do things, and have fun doing them. Long live the SUV and welcome back to the club Ford Bronco.