Though we don’t know when we’ll get our hands on Ford’s 2021 Bronco, you can be sure both the two-door and four-door truck will be scrutinized by off-roaders in every biome of the U.S., from the axle-twisting slick rock of Moab to the claustrophobic forests of the East Coast. A particularly grueling theater, however, lies in the South, where the clay-based mud might as well just be quicksand for lesser rigs. As the Bronco enters its final phases of development, Bronco Nation spied both Bronco models thrashing through Georgia’s trademark red clay to test weather sealing and road debris containment.
The footage may seem a bit ostentatious, but this testing produces a real benefit to engineers—and, ultimately, to consumers—ranging from tire design to everyday usability. “Mud packing, in particular, is important in assessing tire performance,” Bronco Nation writes. “A tire’s ability to shed mud, especially the clay mud in Georgia, is critical for maintaining traction.” In addition, those designing the Bronco need to balance its retro proportions with practicality: Where does mud stick on the vehicle? How easy is it to wash off? Does the cabin remain water-tight when fording puddles or rivers, and do rough trails threaten any essential components?
That’s not all that makes for a capable off-roader, though. The more interesting skills in an off-roader’s resume lie in its off-road specific driving aids, which dial in varying degrees of traction control and anti-lock braking so that those systems assist a driver on the trail rather than sabotage them. However, Bronco Nation‘s footage suggests an incredibly interesting feature for eagle-eyed spectators: cutting brakes!
Cutting brakes are often found in desert buggies and even some rock crawlers. Like skid-steering tank treads, they tighten up the turning radius of a vehicle. By dragging the inside-rear brake during a tight turn, cutting brakes help the vehicle pivot around that locked tire, thus producing a tighter turn at low speeds. This feature is especially valuable in sloppy, muddy conditions in which the front tires may easily understeer.
Why do we suspect the Bronco could sport cutting brakes? At the 25-second mark, watch the back tire lock up as the four-door Bronco mule hugs a tree. You can see that the tire has locked up enough that the front tires actually pull the Bronco’s nose around the corner. You often see this sort of operation in off-road racing, which typically features rigs equipped with cutting brakes. While cutting brakes are not officially confirmed for the Bronco, this video certainly reveals how much effort Ford is putting into the Bronco’s capabilities.
As of now, the new Bronco’s launch has been delayed indefinitely while delays due to the COVID-19 continue to affect Ford’s factories and suppliers. Stay tuned for further updates.