Is the new Ford Bronco the next great go-anywhere adventure camper?
Camping off the beaten path is highly popular at the moment, and rugged 4x4s make for some of the best off-grid mini-campers, taking care of both overland travel and comfy(ish) accommodations. Land Rover realized it when it launched the new Defender with available outdoor accessory packs and a custom roof-top tent, but at $50K to start, the Defender isn't exactly the type of vehicle we'd want to ding and dirty on weekly camping adventures. The new Ford Bronco family is more that speed, and Ford is already thinking about how to transform its latest utility vehicles into overlanding and weekend camping rigs with a full accessory line of its own.
It'll probably be a while before the the aftermarket develops potential innovations like a Bronco pop-up sleeper roof or camper interior, but Ford will get the ball rolling by teaming with aftermarket suppliers to offer some 200 to 300 Bronco accessories out of the gate. Similar to Land Rover's Defender accessory packs, Ford advertises four lifestyle add-on packages for the Bronco Sport, built around biking, water sports, snow sports and camping, respectively. Beyond that, consumers will be able to pick and choose from standalone add-ons to create customized adventure rigs.
Paired with the $34,155 Bronco Sport Badlands, Ford frames its camping package as a vehicular hiking backpack, strapping all the necessary gear to the Bronco Sport's back so it can mule it around the wild. On Ford's configurator, the kit includes crossbars supporting a Yakima SkyRise HD roof-top tent and Yakima SlimShady awning. The two-sleeper design also utilizes the Bronco Sport's available tailgate Cargo Management System for organizing loose camping gear on the ride and doubling as a handy fold-out table or shelf at camp.
Standard and available Bronco Sport features that should prove quite handy to campers include the built-in bottle opener to pop tops, 400-W inverter for accessible power, lift-gate floodlights to brighten up 129 sq ft (12 sq m) worth of campsite ground, and MOLLE hangers for keeping essentials like flashlights and sunglasses close at hand.
The unibody Bronco Sport might not be quite as brutishly rugged or retro as the Bronco models, but it does make for a cheaper 4x4-camper base with a starting MSRP of $28,155, including destination and delivery. Standard 4x4 and terrain management with G.O.A.T. modes ensure it gets where it's going, even if that's a remote primitive campsite with no graded road on the way.
While the Sport is plenty capable enough to wear the Bronco name, overland and off-road purists are no doubt already overlooking it in favor of the larger, burlier two- and four-door Broncos. Ford hasn't announced available accessory packs for them, but with all those planned accessories, it'll certainly offer more than a little something for campers and outdoors adventurers. The two-door has been pictured with multiple cross bar and roof rack configurations over its modular hard roof, an aesthetic that would look quite natural topped by the glossy shell of a Thule Tepui HyBox, or an iKamper Skycamp for family-size capacity.
With its boxed-frame bones, solid rear axle, two available 4x4 systems, available front- and rear differential locks, seven-mode terrain management and available Sync 4 navigation with topographical trail mapping, the Bronco was born to scour remote stretches for the best place to bed down as anything from a clifftop desert lookout to a snowed-in backcountry ski lodge.
The Bronco Sport will roll out to dealerships in late 2020, followed by the Bronco models in Spring 2021. It's worth noting that certain features might not be immediately available at launch, such as the Bronco Sport Cargo Management System scheduled for a Spring 2020 introduction, according to Ford's website.