The Jeep Wrangler is king of the rocks, sand, and mud. Little to no competition could stand in its way for decades. Some may argue the rise of the Toyota Tacoma changed the landscape, but it is a pickup truck, not an SUV. In 2021, the Ford Bronco stepped in as a true SUV to rival the Wrangler.
SUVs dominate the automotive industry today. It makes perfect sense that the Bronco is performing so well in the market. But is Ford’s answer to the Jeep icon converting off-road enthusiasts away from the Wrangler? Let us take a closer look at both models, and recently posted sales figures to find out.
The Wrangler Holds Its Ground In A Tug-A-War With Bronco
Jeep’s flagship off-roading SUV is hanging on while the Bronco brand steals Wrangler and Grand Cherokee owners. Regardless, Jeep comes out on top with 37,971 units of the Wrangler sold in Q1 of 2023. While this beats the Ford, it is down 17% from 45,551 this time last year.
Jeep Wranglers come in several trims that draw in existing and new customers. This keeps a wider demographic happy with options including a bare-bones base model all the way through the fully loaded Rubicon. Special editions are popular within the Wrangler brand as well. The most popular is the Willys editions that pay homage to the original SUV.
Even with strength in the Wrangler’s 4×4-market recognition, the Bronco brand is winning the hearts of Americans. There is hope for the best-selling Jeep brand though. Popularity of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe keeps this trail boss in the lead, while Ford has yet to release any plans for Bronco electrification. More on the Wrangler 4xe hybrid SUV’s success later.
Ford Bronco Closes The Gap On Jeep Wrangler
Ford rings up 32,430 units of the Bronco in Q1 of 2023. That is 37.6% more than the same quarter from the previous year’s total of 23,573 full-sized Broncos. The Bronco brand also includes the Bronco Sport. It is affectionately nicknamed the “Baby Bronco” as it is bases itself off the front-wheel-drive biased, unibody construction, Ford Escape platform.
This is where it gets interesting. If you count the whole family of Broncos, growth shows an 18.3% increase. Ford states that the SUV siblings attract a higher mix of female buyers as well. 31% of Bronco sales came from women, an 8% increase since the platform’s introduction in 2021. This could be the mix that takes down the Wrangler.
Like, the Jeep Wrangler, the Ford Bronco comes available in many trims and special editions. You can choose from grocery-getting, soccer-mom, mall crawlers like the Big Bend, or flip to other extreme in the hardcore off-roader Badlands paired with the Sasquach Package. Let’s not forget about the new Bronco Raptor that competes with the Rubicon 392. We will dig into that shortly.
4xe Electrification Gives Jeep Wrangler A Boost
Our global interests are pushing for more EVs. Jeep makes a contribution to minimizing our carbon footprint through its 4xe line of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). Currently, this includes the Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe. A statement from FCA US Head of Sales Jeff Kommo explains they are “America’s best-selling PHEV vehicles”.
The Jeep Wrangler 4xe sales increase of 72% over last year speaks volumes. That accounts for 38% of all Wrangler sales in Q1 of 2023. We are talking about 14,392 new PHEV Wranglers hitting the roads and trails this year so far. 49 miles of battery-only range, and a total driving range of 370 miles, means longer road trips and overlanding excursions.
Rubicon 392 Offers V8 Power, But A Raptor Is Chasing It
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 answers the call for a V8 Hemi into our 4×4 playground. Since 2021, you can ditch the underwhelming V6 for a 6.4L Hemi with 470 horsepower and 470 ft-lbs of torque. Snappy acceleration and aggressive off-road capabilities bring in the win for the Wrangler enthusiasts weary of motor swaps. Max tire size, available as an option, is only 35″ though.
Ford did not waste any time introducing its answer to the Rubicon 392 in the form of the Bronco Raptor. Only 2 years into the new Bronco’s life, Ford took cues from its high-performance F-150 Raptor to apply here. Unfortunately, there is no V8. A 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine pushes 37″ tires with 418hp and 440ft-lbs of torque. Some potential customers may find this to be the better combo.
Aftermarket Support Is Stronger For Wranglers Than Broncos
Not many 4×4 owners keep their rigs in stock form. Auxiliary lighting, snorkels, suspension lift kits, and heavy-duty bumpers are plentiful for the Wrangler. You will find any combination of these items, and more, out on the trails. Overlanding and camping accessories feature on SEMA builds, then become the choice of many adventurers.
Ford’s awareness of this foothold Jeep has led them to release the Bronco with immediate aftermarket support. Some off-road enthusiasts argue that Ford complies, with factory options, to the requests Wrangler owners still demand. Either way you choose to go, your purchase will grant you miles of fun in the wilderness. Time will tell if the Ford Bronco overtakes the iconic Jeep Wrangler.
Sources: Stellantis, Jeep, Ford, Motor1
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