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Chris Paukert, CNET’s Roadshow »

It would’ve been easy for the Blue Oval to copy the 4×4 formula long adhered to by the Wrangler and various other hardcore SUVs that have come and gone — including Ford’s original 1966 Bronco. That stone-tablet blueprint calls for simple body-on-frame construction, solid axles front and rear, a removable roof and doors and recirculating-ball steering. Indeed, the 2021 Bronco has a separate body and ladder-style truck chassis, as well as a detachable roof and doors. However, Ford decided to go with an independent front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Both of these technologies are known for better control, precision and refinement, albeit at a higher cost and with relative question marks around durability (and, in the case of IFS, ultimate off-road wheel articulation).

In light of these design decisions, it’d be fair to wonder aloud if Ford elected to gear the Bronco more toward on-road polish than ultimate off-road capability. As I’d come to learn over the course of two packed days at Ford’s new Off-Roadeo driving camp, however, to doubt Ford’s engineers would be to make a very bad bet. This Bronco is truly formidable in the rough stuff and it’s also significantly better to live with on a daily basis.

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