Following the fanfare at the reveal of the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco a few months back, it seemed increasingly likely that the automaker would bow to enthusiast interests and inevitably put a V8 engine in the new off-roader. But the Bronco’s chief engineer says it ain’t going to happen.
In an interview with Muscle Cars And Trucks, Bronco Chief Engineer Eric Loefller admitted that Ford doesn’t seemingly have any current plans to put an eight-cylinder powerplant in the new Bronco, because of emissions costs and the impressions that there may not be a customer for it:
“We have to manage the CO2 implications of the product. The way the federal requirements are now it’s all shadow area (footprint) based. If you look at the shadow area of a small off-road vehicle, it has a pretty high target from a government perspective in terms of CO2,” said Loefller.
Loefller said the main customer demands for engine output are overall hp, torque, capability and fuel economy figures, rather than cylinder count. If the V6 can deliver on all these things, it makes more sense. Otherwise, Ford would pay the price in emissions fines for using a V8. Ford also seems very confident the Bronco’s 2.7 liter EcoBoost V6 will impress customers.
“If the customer experience was significantly enhanced with a Coyote engine, it would have been under serious consideration,” said Seaman. “In all honesty, that EcoBoost motor is damn good and when you get out of it you don’t say, ‘I wish I had a bigger engine.’”
Reading between the lines, this seems like an issue with fleet regulations. Adding another thirsty V8 to the lineup would diminish the overall brand’s average efficiency and emissions and Ford would face financial penalties based around the federal CAFE standards. If Ford thinks it can’t recoup those penalty costs in the profit margin of the vehicle, then it won’t do it. It just comes down to volume—how many V8 Broncos can Ford count on selling?
The issue is the argument. Particularly that the Bronco simply doesn’t “need” a V8. This is dumb reasoning, though. I understand that the current four- and six-cylinder powertrain options in the new Bronco are perfectly good, and also capable of being tuned to even greater performance. That’s not the issue though.
No car ever needed a V8. A modern car much less so these days thanks to how far smaller engines have come in performance, but I think it’s still fair to point out.
The V8 was put in things because it did more than just add power—it totally changes the character of the vehicle. The sound is different, the throttle response is different, and the experience is different. It’s not efficiency or cost savings that ever led anyone to buy—or manufacture—a V8 vehicle.
For many, just the knowledge that you have a V8 under the hood is worth any price. A twin-turbo V6 is going to drive completely differently and, what many V8 truck drivers would probably say, worse.
If Ford thinks it can’t sell a V8 Bronco—something the forums and blogs have been excitedly speculating about since the last Bronco was on sale—after issuing over 230,000 reservations for the regular Bronco in its debut month, then I don’t think it’s unfair to claim the product planners are a little out of touch.
You really mean to say the Bronco Raptor can’t get a V8 and still recoup the costs of whatever emissions penalties Ford will face? Or are they trying to wean us all off of the Ford V8 altogether? Should we be fucking worried?
In the same way that the V8 Ford Mustang is the icon of the brand’s cars, and for decades was the drive behind the entire brand, the Ford Bronco should do the same for the crossover and trucks.
I can get an F-150 with a V8, but not a Bronco? And you’re telling me it could be possible that a V8 could actually fit? No amount of emissions bullshit or cost-savings will help that argument make sense to shoppers at the dealer who want one. Ford putting a V8 in an enthusiast model is the sort of assumption you should be allowed to make, and then spend a lot of money on.
I guess this leaves a huge door open for the aftermarket. I give it a matter of weeks.