The 2021 Ford Bronco's Crawler Gear Is About Control, Not Power

Illustration for article titled The 2021 Ford Bronco's Crawler Gear Is About Control, Not Power
Photo: Ford

When you start looking at the math of the 2021 Ford Bronco’s gear ratios, it seems like the truck can do ridiculous power multiplication. What the hell are you supposed to do with 29,372 lb-ft of wheel torque, anyway? Well, there’s more to it than that, as the inimitable Jason Fenske explains in this video.

Super-low crawler gears are nothing new, and if you want to learn about off-road gearing, check out David Tracy’s big gear ratio explainer post we published years ago.


But Fenske’s use of the classic Engineering Explained whiteboard presentation does a great job using math to support a simple statement: The 2021 Ford Bronco’s ultra-low crawer gear in its “seven”-speed manual is actually about giving the driver more precise throttle control at low speed than putting down a crazy amount of engine power to the tires.

As you’ll see if you watch, the truck is technically capable of generating 29,372 lb-ft of wheel torque but not physically able to utilize that. Wheel torque, as Fenske also explains, is not a good indicator of a vehicle’s performance because wheel size and vehicle weight are in between that big number and what the driver can actually use.

“But I thought ultra-low gears were all about sacrificing speed for wheel torque,” you exclaim. They are, but first gear in low range gets you plenty of power. The Bronco’s crawler gear is all about making the vehicle manageable, without forcing you to ride the clutch, between 1 and 5 mph. (While first gear in high range works better between 5 and 32 mph.)

If you want to dig into different versions of the 2021 Ford Bronco, check out my roundup blog of every trim level. But to learn everything there is to know about the vehicle’s off-road abilities you should peep David Tracy’s ultimate Bronco versus Wrangler rundown.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles


David Swartwood

Sure... But an auto gets you even lower gearing than the manual due to the torque converter and the power to the ground can be more accurately controlled using the brakes which don’t have lash while the driveline can then be kept in tension and you don’t have to deal with driveline tolerances and lash. I’m unclear on the gain from having a manual on this vehicle other than having the option to risk breaking your drivetraininadvertantly or on a whim. I love a manual on a sports car just for the funsies but in the Bronco the whole point of crawl gear is to then leave it in crawl gear as you crawl over things... just like you would using the auto. I bet we see many a warranty claim being denied due to “abuse”.