Caraganza First Drive Review 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades: Say hello to my little friend

Ford Bronco Everglades

A few weeks ago, I spent a glorious day rocketing around the Sonoran Desert near Phoenix in a Polaris XP RZR.  The day was perfect, and the sun shone brightly as the little 999cc 110 horsepower four-wheel buggy took us through slot canyons, up steep hills and across unbelievable terrain that only a few vehicles would dare go. The only time it stopped was for lunch beside a meandering slow-moving river.

It made me wish I had such a machine. Of course, there are just a few practical problems with that:

  • I don’t live anywhere near anything resembling a desert. I was in Phoenix to work the final NASCAR race of the season and had a few days to goof off; In fact, I live in Florida which is better known for its swamps.
  • While worth it I’m sure, a Polaris PRO XP RZR ain’t cheap, the base price being $25,000.
  • And finally, I would need a place to store such a thing; living in suburbia that would be a wee bit of a challenge.

Still, I thought perhaps I could figure out a way to have the sort of fun I had in the desert, just a little closer to home.

Ford, it seems, gave me a possible answer.

A week after I got home, Ford sent me a 2022 Bronco for a week. But this wasn’t just any Bronco, it was a special one.

The Ford Bronco was introduced in 1965 as a 1966 model. Those first models had available options like a CB radio, an auxiliary gas tank, a power take-off, a winch, and even a post-hole digger. Over the next 30 years there would be five generations of the Bronco up until 1996 and included a smaller Bronco II from 1984–1990 the latter being the official vehicle of high school shop teachers everywhere.

1996 Ford Bronco

Ford brought the iconic Bronco back as a sixth generation for the 2021 model year. Like the earlier models there are tons of configurations and options that can be ordered. For 2022, Ford debuted the Everglades model, an off-road monster that I (happily) got to spend a week with.

The Everglades model is built off the off-road-themed Black Diamond variant. It also gets the Sasquatch package, something available on all Bronco trims, that includes a suspension lift, locking front and rear differentials, and 35-inch mud-terrain tires, something found on the feature-heavy Mid package, and singular options like a removable hardtop and heavy-duty front bumper.

The Everglades also gets unique fender flares, a heavy-duty winch, marine-grade vinyl upholstery, and perhaps the coolest off-road addition: an air intake snorkel to allow deeper fording. That snorkel has a reversible plate that stops the engine from inhaling damaging particulate matter and is something I haven’t seen on a four-wheeler direct from the factory.

Now, while I might not have too much experience in the desert, I did live in South Florida for a decade while stationed in the military and spent a great deal of time in Everglades. Like, a lot. As in I had names for certain alligators and could navigate the swamp in the dead of a moonless night.

1986 Ford Bronco II

Given my background I was pretty fired up to see Bronco Everglade in person. And I was not disappointed.

With a neat graphic ahead of the front wheels, the front winch, bumper bars, all lifted on 35-inch Goodyear mud-terrain tires mounted on 17-inch wheels the Everglades looks like it’s ready to get muddy. The interior carries that theme over, with easy-to-read displays that can be customized as can the driving modes. Inside there’s a bigger 12-inch screen (up from 8), Ford’s SYNC 4 system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto and navigation and an almost 360-degree camera view (the winch blocks a front view).  The Everglades comes with the Mid-Package with auto-high beams, blind sport monitoring, lane keeping assist and pre-collision with automatic emergency breaking.

Add in heated front seats, remote and push button start, and the interior is a nice place to be. Oh, and the top panels can be removed and stored in bags in the back.

I had to wonder though: since this a complete off-roader, it must be pretty uncomfortable on the street, despite the nice interior.


Ford Bronco Everglades

The ride on pavement was a lot smoother than I thought it would be, and there’s also less outside noise that other four-wheelers I’ve driven. There’s only one powertrain for the Everglade: a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. And on the street, it handles much, much better than the Jeep Wrangler I had a short time ago. Ford has used its expertise to design and tweak the steering system and front-suspension setup making the Bronco very easy to live with as a daily driver.

Yes, that four-cylinder may same small, but it does deliver 300 horsepower and more significantly perhaps 325 lb.-ft of torque which is more important when off-roading and trying to climb a hill, or slosh through mud. And of course, the Everglades can ford up to 36.4 inches of water, up from the existing Bronco’s maximum of 33.5 inches.

For those who want to get all this off-road capability with more power can opt of the Raptor version which belts out 418 horsepower and 440 ft.-lb. torque.

Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to do any off-roading during my week with the Bronco, but I have little doubt the Everglades version could meet any sort of off-road challenge thrown at it. I suspect that includes much of the trail we went on while in Arizona, and I bet in a lot more comfort.

For me, this could be the solution to scratch my off-road itch. The Bronco is a great addition to the SUV market, and even better one to the off-road SUV market. Something that could deliver the groceries during the week and play in the mud on the weekend.

I know I would like to have a Bronco if only to take it out its namesake to the real Everglades. Maybe I could take the family to some of my old haunts and introduce them to some of my old friends.

For that the Ford Bronco Everglades would be perfect.

The 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades
MSRP: $54,595
MSRP (as tested): 56,835
Engine 2.3 liter I-4, 300 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 325 lb.-ft torque @ 3,400 rpm
Transmission: 10 speed shiftable automatic w/terrain management and G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) modes.
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 18 city, 17 highway, 18 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions): 19 mpg
Base curb weight: 5,212 lbs.
Max Towing Capacity 3,500 lbs.
Max Payload Capacity 1,196 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions (Inches)
Overall width with mirrors: 86.2
Overall width without mirrors: 79.4
Height: 78.7
Wheelbase: 116.1
Cargo capacity, all seats in place 35.6 cu.ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 77.6 cu.ft.
Ground clearance: 11.7 in

Interior Dimensions (Inches)
Front head room: 40.8
Front leg room: 43.1
Front shoulder room: 57.1
Front hip room: 55.9
Rear Seat Dimensions
Rear head room: 40.1
Rear leg room: 36.3
Rear shoulder room: 56.5
Rear hip room: 54.8

Bumper-to-bumper: Three years/36,000 miles
Powertrain: Five years/60,000 miles
Corrosion: Five years/unlimited miles
Roadside assistance: 24-hour/day (3 years/36 miles)

Greg Engle