Review: Ford Bronco Everglades and Raptor models both have their pluses
When Ford debuted the new Bronco in its full-sized format, it was very clearly aimed towards Jeep and its iconic Wrangler. The Jeep, having few (if any) real competitors for years, is now faced with serious competition in the form of two Bronco models – the Everglades and the Raptor.
At a glance
- Bronco Everglades adds a few pieces to make for a solid, advanced off-roader
- Bronco Raptor adds more muscle and a bunch of high-end off-road gear
- Happy place is somewhere in between the two
The new Ford Bronco was introduced in 2021 as a sixth generation of the SUV. Like the previous renditions, the last of which took a hiatus for a while, this new sport utility is a body-on-frame (truck style) design with heavy emphasis on capability. The Bronco uses various versions of the turbocharged EcoBoost engine family. For 2022 and 2023, Ford has added two off-road-aimed rigs to the Bronco library: the Everglades and the Raptor.
The Bronco itself, which we reviewed in its debut First Edition Sasquatch form, sees little change this model year. The new trims, however, add some capability to the already very able Bronco.
The Bronco Everglades model is the less extreme of the two, adding just a few things to make the SUV look more rugged. The front and rear bumpers see some change to improve approach and departure angles, the front bumper gets a Warn winch addition, rock rails are added under the doors, and some improved skid plates and better off-road tires finish the job.
Many of these same additions are found on the Black Diamond trim level for the Bronco. The functioning snorkel, bigger touchscreen infotainment, 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, suspension lift, and some convenience items like dual-zone climate and driver assist systems are also added.
In short, the Ford Bronco Everglades takes the lower-end Black Diamond model and upgrades it with several items from the Sasquatch and Mid content packages, along with some unique Everglades-only items. It’s a solid off-road package with just a couple of things missing. Those missing items are found on the much more expensive Raptor package.
The Ford Bronco Raptor has the upgraded LED lighting and front stabilizer bar disconnect found on the Badlands package. It then adds a plethora of things, starting with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that outputs 418 horsepower (307 kW) and 440 pound-feet (598 Nm) of torque.
Seventeen-inch wheels with massive 37-inch all-terrain tires are then put on. A heavy-duty rear axle is added, and exclusive Fox shock absorbers are placed on the suspension. A shorter final drive ratio and locking front and rear axles improve capability for the lifted suspension. An active exhaust system and paddle shifters finish this list.
The Raptor also has a large 12-inch touchscreen, 360-degree camera system, and mirror-mounted approach and spotlights. These are taken from the High package upgrade. Probably the most obvious change to the Bronco Raptor, however, is its wheel track widening. A full 10 inches (254 mm) of width are added to the Raptor model with unique fender flares and longer axles with bigger tires to match. This adds stability in climbing and rock crawl situations.
Having driven both models this year, it’s clear to us that the best kind of Bronco would be something in between these two. The Everglades, powered by a just-about-right 2.3-liter turbo-4 (300 horsepower / 224 kW), has everything we like about off-road-ready machines except a disconnecting sway bar and the Raptor’s wider track with better shocks.
The Raptor has too much, with a needlessly overdone engine and an interfering step-in ladder system in place of the rock rails. In our opinion, the Raptor, sans the jumpy turbo-6 and those step rails and adding on the Everglades’ bumpers and snorkel, would make for a near-perfect off-road and overlanding starting point.
Either way, however, the already very capable Bronco SUV is pushed to limits with the Everglades and Raptor packages. The Bronco Everglades starts at about US$53,500 and the Bronco Raptor begins at about $68,500.
Product page: 2023 Ford Bronco
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