The 2021 Ford Bronco and the Jeep Wrangler both let motorists feel the wind in their hair, but only the latter gives users the option of feeling the bugs in their teeth. While the Wrangler’s windshield can fold flat on its hood, the Bronco’s was designed to remain upright at all times. Ford explained this decision.
“We looked at that. In the original vehicle, you could do that. But, it brings with it some problems. It does provide the user with a fairly rare event, since you start getting into things like flat windshields, which is a compromised construction around pillars,” Paul Wraith, the new Bronco’s chief engineer, told Ford Authority.
It sounds like giving the Bronco a folding roof would have been structurally possible, but it would have made the SUV more difficult to build, and complexity almost always adds cost. Instead, Wraith explained his team found other ways to allow Bronco users to let the great outdoors permeate the cabin. Notably, engineers made the A-pillars as thin as possible without compromising safety, and they integrated airbags into the horizontal roof bars that Ford refers to as sport tubes. Moving the mirrors to the base of the windshield is a way to encourage motorists to take the doors off, and the available hardtop can be removed in individual sections.
“So, when you look at tradeoffs, we think we made the right one. It’s very safe, very open, and a good experience,” said Wraith. Judging by the overwhelming number of pre-orders that Ford received in the days after it unveiled the Bronco, we think off-roaders agree with Wraith’s assessment.