Jeep’s latest sales training material for dealerships is meant to help the staff fend off competition posed by Ford’s fresh-from-the-oven 2021 Bronco. This means pointing out Jeep Wrangler’s advantages over its interloping FoMoCo competitor, all the while taking a few shots at the newcomer. Check it out.
The Bronco has drawn tons of attention since the off-roader debuted in July, and not just from the buying public, but from the dominant player in the segment, Jeep. In fact, the Auburn Hills, MI-based SUV brand teased a V8 variant of its Jeep Wrangler on the very day that Ford introduced the Bronco.
If that’s not enough to convince you that Jeep is taking the Blue Oval’s convertible entry seriously, check out the Bronco Information Sheet, apparently put together by the Fiat Chrysler Performance Institute, an organisation whose job is to educate dealerships on new products and vehicle service procedures.
Posted to the Bronco6G forum by member BroncoBoi2020!, the document starts with a light tease: “Ford Bronco: The Sincerest Form of Flattery.” Then in a Bronco at a Glance box on the left, the page lists seven features that the Bronco shares with the Wrangler.
The next page begins a long list of Wrangler Advantages, emphasising the Jeep’s strong community. That fan base, Jeep says, is “organic,” and something that Ford is trying to emulate with the assistance of a marketing company building something called Bronco Nation.
The Wrangler and its CJ predecessors, Jeep continues, have been available almost continuously for nearly 80 years, meaning the Jeep has a long head start in brand recognition and loyalty over the Bronco, which is returning to the market after a long absence.
From there, the document discusses the numerous off-road advantages of a solid front axle. I’ve addressed most of these in my Bronco deep-dive. Indeed, solid axles are easier and cheaper to modify and repair, and they offer more suspension flex to keep the tires on the ground for increased forward thrust.
I think Jeep’s bullet point about the front differential maintaining more stable ground clearance is a bit dubious, since IFS tends to let the differential sit quite a bit higher above the ground than the diff on a solid axle (a result of the diff being frame-mounted on an IFS vehicle).
On page three, Jeep continues listing Wrangler advantages over the Bronco, though some of the points are rather weak. Sure, the Jeep’s fold-down windshield, power-convertible top and 3.0-litre diesel engine option are cool, and I’ll buy that the Wrangler likely offers better visibility (though I can’t know for sure until I sit in the Ford), but mentioning the limited slip differential and door-mounted mirrors is a bit silly.
It’s true that it doesn’t appear that the Bronco offers an LSD, but it does offer locking diffs in all trim levels, whereas the Jeep Wrangler requires buyers to opt for higher trims to get lockers. And while I’ll admit that there are a number of applications — particularly on the street — where an LSD is advantageous over a manually-selectable locker, the reality is that ABS-based traction systems are great these days. So with that in mind, I don’t see the Wrangler’s LSD to be a huge advantage, especially when Wrangler doesn’t offer lockers on lower trims.
I also disagree that “mirrors stay with the doors” is an advantage. If a car maker is required by law to provide a side mirror, then it seems a bit silly for that company to advertise doors-off capability that deletes that mirror. Ford’s solution is just smart, and extremely obvious: Tie the mirrors to the vehicle. This makes the doors smaller for easier storage, and allows owners to remove the closures and still have the mirrors in place.
Sure, for off-roading, the mirrors may get in the way, but they’re foldable and possibly removable. Even if they aren’t, most folks who take doors off their Jeeps aren’t off-roading, they’re driving on the street. They should definitely have a side mirror, and to make them carry an aftermarket one in the vehicle at all times isn’t exactly what I’d call an advantage.
Jeep’s point about the crawl ratio is a decent one; I’ll just paste my crawl ratio summary here so that there’s no ambiguity.
- Ford Bronco Automatic Crawl Ratio Range: 48-68
- Jeep Wrangler Automatic Crawl Ratio Range: 44-77
- Ford Bronco Manual Crawl Ratio Range: 80-95
- Jeep Wrangler Manual Crawl Ratio Range: 48-84
For most folks buying an automatic, it’s true that the Wrangler offers a higher crawl ratio. Whether it makes a huge difference given the vehicles’ different torque curves, we don’t know for sure. But I think for people buying a fully-decked-out automatic off-roader that they plan to modify and rock-crawl, that crawl ratio difference could be a significant advantage.
Another point Jeep makes is that the Wrangler offers more dealer-installed accessories. That’s important, because Jeep owners love modifying their machines. And remember, the aftermarket offerings for Jeep are absolutely gargantuan, while the Bronco’s aftermarket is just starting to get off the ground.
Page four addresses the Bronco’s 35-inch tires, which are two inches larger in diameter than the largest tire offered on the Wrangler, a matter that’s been a huge talking point for the off-road community. Jeep notes that Fiat Chrysler offers a dealer-installable lift kit, which lets the Jeep fit 35s or 37s.
The rest of the page talks about the upcoming plug-in hybrid Wrangler, saying “Ford has nothing like the 4xe,” which I guess is true in that Jeep has announced its hybrid Wrangler and Ford hasn’t spoken of its hybrid Bronco. Not in an official capacity, at least, though a recent leak has us pretty sure that a hybrid Bronco is on the docket.
It’s clear from this cheat sheet of “oppo” research against the Bronco that Jeep is worried about its new competitor. This isn’t surprising, and this kind of dealer guidance is fairly standard in the industry: Know your competition, because you can bet your potential customers will. Still, it’s interesting to see which angles Jeep is gunning for to win over SUV shoppers.
Some of the points are a bit of a stretch, but the advantages of the solid axle are clear (even if there are plenty of disadvantages), and the huge community and aftermarket are also a big deal.
Something tells me this Wrangler-Bronco battle is going to be a slug-fest.