Ford was smart to introduce the new Bronco as it has gained in popularity and taken a bite out of the Jeep Wrangler’s hold on the factory-capable off-road segment. The Ford Bronco is great for exploring dirt roads and creek crossings and making vehicle modifications. But if you also need to tow a trailer, is this SUV a good choice? Let’s dive in and look more closely at the Ford Bronco’s towing capacity!
The New Ford Bronco Design Is Awesome, But Can It Tow?
If you grew up between the mid-60s and mid-90s, your first vehicle might have been a Ford Bronco. This 2-door SUV competed with the Jeep CJ models, Dodge Ramcharger, and Chevy K5 Blazer. By the 1990s, the demand for the SUV was declining, and in 1996, Ford discontinued the Bronco.
However, Ford introduced the sixth generation Bronco with 2-door and 4-door models in 2021. The Jeep Wrangler is its closest competitor, also with 2-door and 4-door options. The reborn Bronco features a convertible top, removable frameless doors, and a chassis and powertrain similar to the Ford Ranger. Owners can upgrade to “GOAT Modes” (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain), which maximizes traction when off-roading.
In 2022, Ford sold over 117,000 Broncos, far more than any other year. It’s a vehicle in demand for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. But can it tow?
What’s critical to understand about this vehicle is that it has a short wheelbase, meaning the front and back tires are closer together than longer vehicles. This inherently helps its off-road capabilities but degrades towing performance. This is inherent of all short-wheelbase vehicles, however, and not just the Bronco.
Short Wheelbase Towing
Towing with short-wheelbase vehicles poses several challenges when towing longer trailers, including stability issues such as swaying and reduced control, especially at higher speeds or in windy conditions. Because of this, proper trailer setup and weight distribution sway control hitches are critical. Towing trailers that are shorter and single axle minimizes these issues, however.
The limited payload capacity and difficulty in distributing tongue weight can further compromise stability. Braking is another concern, as these vehicles often have longer stopping distances and quicker brake wear. Maneuverability is compromised, making tight turns difficult and increasing the risk of jackknifing. The ride is generally less comfortable, leading to quicker driver fatigue.
The Bronco falls into this category, so, in general, don’t plan on towing long or multi-axle trailers. Larger trucks or SUVs are better suited to those applications. However, properly setup and with the correct size trailer, the Bronco can still be comfortable on the road.
Understanding the Ford Bronco Trims
There are six trims in the Bronco 2022 lineup: the Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, and Wiltrak. The Base is available in 2-door or 4-door options. It’s the basic, entry-level Bronco model. The Big Bend is a step above the Base and comes with two or four doors. It features 32-inch tires and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and is more stylish than the Base Bronco.
The Black Diamond Bronco is a rugged trim. This model features black-painted steel wheels, a powder-coated steel front bumper, LED front fog lamps and tow hooks, and rubberized flooring with drain plugs. The Outer Banks trim is the luxury edition with dual heated bucket seats and the option to upgrade to a premium B&O sound system.
The Badlands and Wildtrak Bronco trims are for basic off-roading. The Badlands Bronco features an upgraded suspension system, a front stabilizer bar disconnect, and a powder-coated steel front bumper. The Wildtrak has more speed and a more luxurious interior.
In 2022, Bronco unveiled the Raptor trim. It’s a 4-door model with an upgraded cooling system, wider body, higher ground clearance, higher strength frame, a reinforced front bumper, and other features that make it a true off-road vehicle. The Bronco Raptor also has an increased towing capacity of 4,500 pounds.
Pro Tip: Hit the road in style in one of these 11 Best SUVs for Towing RV Campers.
What Is the Ford Bronco Towing Capacity?
Towing capacity is the maximum amount of weight a vehicle can safely tow. Manufacturers determine this based on the build of each vehicle. The engine, brake system, transmission, and other components affect towing capacity.
The Ford Bronco towing capacity varies depending on the trim level, number of doors, axle ratio, and engine. For example, the 4-door Badlands with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine and 4.70 axle ratio have a maximum towing capacity of 3,280 pounds. The 2-door Black Diamond with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine and 4.46 axle ratio has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
Most of the 2023 Ford Broncos have a towing capacity of around 3,500 pounds. The highest towing capacity belongs to the Raptor at 4,500 pounds.
These are lower capacities compared to most trucks and SUV’s and much of that is due to the smaller drivetrain and short wheelbase. Exceeding these limits can put you into a dangerous situation.
What Is the Ford Bronco GVWR and GCWR?
Several numbers are essential to safe towing. We’ve already discussed the towing capacity and GVWR of a trailer. If your 2-door Ford Bronco Wildtrak has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, then your camper can’t have a GVWR higher than this amount. We recommend not exceeding 80% of your towing capacity, which would be around 2,800 pounds.
Another number and acronym you must understand fully is the GCWR of your Ford Bronco. This is the gross combined weight rating of your Bronco and your RV. Once you fully load your vehicle and camper with fuel, cargo, and passengers, your total combined weight shouldn’t exceed the GCWR. GCWR ratings vary based on trim and are published on fords website, but in general, you find weights between 8500 and 9000lbs on most models.
Pro Tip: GVWR and GCWR still confusing? Check out our article GVWR Meaning Explained: Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings for Vehicles & Towing to learn more!
Is the Ford Bronco Good for Towing?
So, is the Ford Bronco good for towing? If you’re towing a 35-foot travel trailer that weighs 8,000 pounds, NO. However, there are campers lightweight enough for a Ford Bronco to tow safely. We recommend shorter trailers with a single axle.
Trailer Towing Package
There’s an available trailer towing package for the Ford Bronco. These features make towing safer and more convenient. The package includes a 7-wire harness and 4-/7-pin connector, trailer module, and hitch receiver. Front tow hooks, trailer sway control, and lane-keeping alert come standard on the Ford Broncos. However, the Raptor has additional standard equipment like an auxiliary auto transmission oil cooler, a tow/haul mode, and a 360-degree camera.
Trailer Hitch Receiver Options & Capacities
The Bronco Raptor has the trailer hitch receiver as standard equipment. Its maximum weight capacity is 4,500 pounds, with a maximum tongue weight of 450 pounds. The other Ford Broncos have a 3,500-pound trailer hitch receiver capable of handling 350 pounds of tongue weight.
Frontal Area Considerations
The frontal area of a vehicle is the part that’s exposed to air resistance. For a more efficient towing experience, you want as little frontal area as possible or an aerodynamic design. The Ford Bronco can tow a trailer if the frontal area remains less than 20 square feet. The Ford Bronco Raptor can safely manage up to 40 square feet of frontal area.
Axle ratios affect the Ford Bronco towing capacity. For example, the Ford Bronco 2-door Badlands with a 4.46 axle ratio has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. However, the same Ford Bronco with a 4.70 axle ratio has a towing capacity of 3,480 pounds. The higher the axle ratio, the higher the performance and the lower the fuel economy as the engine will rev higher.
So, What Types of Campers Can a Ford Bronco Tow?
The Ford Bronco towing capacity limits the type of camper owners can tow. If you want a family-friendly travel trailer with a bunkhouse, you can’t tow it with a Ford Bronco. However, there are still options.
Most lightweight campers will be teardrops or 10- to 12-foot travel trailers. You likely won’t have amenities like a bathroom or a full kitchen. You may not have a sleeping space and must convert a sofa or dinette at night.
The Ford Bronco can generally tow any camper with a GVWR of less than 3,500 pounds. We suggest sticking below 2,800 pounds. The NuCamp TagXL, a single-axle teardrop trailer, has a GVWR of 2,200 pounds. The Aliner Grand Ascape ST, a 14-foot travel trailer, has a GVWR of 2,450 pounds.
You can read more about campers under 3,500 pounds in our article “9 Small Campers to Pull Behind Your Jeep Wrangler.”
If you need to tow more than 3,500 pounds, you’ll need the Raptor or an SUV with a higher towing capacity, like the Ford Explorer. The maximum towing capacity is 5,600 pounds, opening the door to many more options for teardrops, pop-up campers, and small travel trailers. With this increased towing capacity, you can shop among the bigger name brands.
Is the Ford Bronco Good for Off-Road Travel?
If you’re an adventurer who loves off-roading, the Ford Bronco is a suitable choice because of its GOAT Modes. During inclement weather, you can turn on the Slippery mode, which lowers the throttle response and optimizes shifting. The Sand/Snow mode engages the four-wheel drive lock to maintain control. For additional traction, the Mud/Ruts mode allows more momentum-maintaining wheelspin.
The Rock Crawl mode takes your Ford Bronco even farther with a front camera that lets you see upcoming obstacles better. The Tow-Haul and Off-Road modes come standard on the Raptor to increase stability and traction.
In addition to the GOAT Modes, the Ford Bronco also has Trail Turn Assist, Ford Trail Control, and Trail 1-Pedal Drive that helps you maneuver off-road more easily. The electronic front-locking and rear-locking differential and front stabilizer bar disconnect also help with off-road travel.
But it’s not only the equipment and technology of the Ford Broncos that make them favorable for off-roading. The vehicle’s design is also conducive to trekking through mud, rocks, sand, and snow. Undercarriage bash plates protect the fuel tank, engine/transmission, and transfer case shields. Drops and inclines are manageable with the angles of the rear and front of the Bronco. The 11.6-inch ground clearance means traveling over obstacles is also easier and safer.
Pro Tip: Don’t want to hitch up to your Ford Bronco? Use one of these 7 Top SUV Tents for Unbeatable Outdoor Escapes instead.
How Much Is the Ford Bronco?
For many people, choosing the correct tow vehicle and off-road vehicle comes down to the price. The Ford Bronco Base starts at around $34,890. This is comparable to the Ford Explorer base model, which starts at around $36,760.
The price increases as you add options or upgrade the trim package. For example, the Ford Bronco Big Bend, a step up from the Base, starts at $39,130. The Wildtrak starts at around $58,775. And the Bronco Raptor, the most expensive Ford Bronco, starts at approximately $86,580.
Take Your Adventure Anywhere With the Ford Bronco
The Ford Bronco isn’t for everyone. However, its rebirth has brought back a demand for this 2-door and 4-door off-road capable adventure vehicle. If you enjoy splashing about in the eastern marshes, rock scrambling through the Southwest deserts, or getting as close as possible to a trailhead or kayak launch, the Ford Bronco may be the vehicle for you.
Just keep in mind its towing capacity when you choose a trailer. Tow safely and enjoy the adventure with a Ford Bronco!
Is a Ford Bronco in your future? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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