The Ford Bronco Everglades Will Add “Holy Cow” to Your Life

Ford Bronco Everglades Featured Image
Ford Bronco Everglades featured image

A lot of hoooo-leee cow.

There’s nothing like challenging the technical and unpredictable details of an off road trail to make you feel like you can do anything. That’s just one reason it’s so fun and appealing; add to that the beauty of the untouched landscape, empty beaches, exclusive vistas and crisp, fresh air and it becomes an irresistible invitation. Which is one reason off road vehicles are so popular right now; if ever there’s been a time when we needed to get away and feel good about ourselves, it’s now. If this sounds like you, meet the Ford Bronco Everglades, priced at $53,000 and outfitted to take you from the Ford dealer to the edges of the earth and beyond, all in one capable, accommodating SUV.

How do I know? I drove it though mud. Deep mud so thick and gooey that I refused to walk in it even though I was wearing rubber boots; I was afraid of slipping and falling.

I drove it across rocks and boulders. Rocks so big I normally would not dare drive on them or over them for fear of doing major damage to the underside of the car.

I drove it over mud-covered rocks. Thick slippery mud that covered the rocks, the kind that would send your feet flying out from under you if you stepped on a rock covered in it. 

I drove it through deep, watery trenches even though there was a higher, dry road option — but why drive around the water when you can drive through it? 

And of course, we drove it up stair-step rock formations, across pebble-filled beaches, over rocky, boulder-dotted roadways and on a flat gravel road that allowed us to take it to 40 MPH, which was a blast.  

Related: What Drives Her: Jolanta Coffey of Ford on Building the New Bronco Everglades

We Had A Winch Opportunity! A Tree Fell Across The Trail, So We Removed It

We had a winch opportunity! A tree fell across the trail, so we removed it. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What Makes the Ford Bronco Everglades so Capable?

You might think all 4WD SUVs are created equal, but that’s just the starting point for true capability. From there, several details are critical: 

  • Ground clearance: the Everglades edition has 11.7” of ground clearance. This was enough to drive over large rocks and through deeply rutted mud trails
  • Capable tires: the Bronco Everglades comes equipped with 35” Goodyear off road tires; these have wide tread, deep channels and thicker sidewalls to really grab the terrain. To make our tires even more capable, we took some of the air out of them for this drive—almost enough, but not quite, to set off the tire pressure monitors
  • Skid plates: This may be the most critical detail for off road confidence; steel plates (there are 5!) cover the undercarriage of the SUV so any rocks, tree trunks or other potential impalers won’t puncture an oil pan or disable your systems
  • Water fording ability: The Bronco Everglades offers the deepest water fording capability, about 36.4”, or more than 3 feet of water. Because of seals that protect key systems, a ‘snorkel’ type air vent and the ground clearance, this Bronco can run through water up to the bumper and door sills, though if you accidentally get water on the cabin floor, you can open a drain in the floor to let it out
  • And then, of course, 4 wheel drive designed to conquer anything you come across. From downhill descent control to rock crawl capability, a powerful system that will push each wheel to deliver consistent power will pull you out of almost any situation. 

You can take almost any SUV with 4WD to a shop that does off road modifications and add these features; or, you can buy it built that way, complete with the manufacturer warranty and designed by engineers who have designed the car specifically for the off road life.

Related: Off-Roading Reveals Cosmo Tire’s True Character

That'S Me In The Middle In The White(Ish) Bronco

That’s me in the middle in the white(ish) Bronco. Photo: Ford

What this SUV Was Like to Drive

I started the day with a bit of butterfly flutter in my stomach, but off-roading always makes me feel that way. Will I be able to accomplish every challenge? What if I get the car stuck, or worse? What if something happens while we are off the grid? What if I’m not capable and one of the pros has to hop in the car and drive it for me? 

But I try to follow instructions and watch the spotters on the trail to guide us. I listen to the trail leader on the walkie talkie and learn from the drivers around me, watching their approach and their wheels. If they can do it, so can I. 

As we left the road for a gravel trail, I felt pretty confident. The Bronco is easy to command; even with the large, square hood line to see over—I set my seat at nearly the highest setting for visibility—the solid steering wheel, upright seats made me feel in control. Soon, we were advised to turn the GOAT mode dial to mud/rocks and the road quickly turned rocky and rutted. Just as quickly we came across pond-sized puddles in the road, many with rocks jutting out from the water’s surface. 

The Bronco ahead of me was in water up to its bumper. I watched as it sloshed through the muddy puddle and climbed out the other side. “Hoooo-lee cow! 

Around the next turn she approached the muddy rim of the puddle; her rear tires slid to the left as she turned to climb back up to the trail. Uh-oh. With a few spins of her tires, they finally caught traction and a moment later, she launched out of the trench. WOW! 

I followed the trail into the water-filled trench and could feel the Bronco floating and drifting for a second as the tires found traction. The mud was thick and shifting underfoot, but with all four wheels turning, they found grip  and quickly propelled me up the side of the puddle to higher ground. Phew. 

This was the tempo of the day: anxiety on approach, grit through the challenge, elation on completion, then on to the next. At the end of the day, after about 5 hours of off-roading, the feeling was exhausted happiness. “I can’t believe I just did that! And I can’t wait to do it again.”

Related: 2021 Ford Bronco Outer Banks: Exciting, Luxurious, and Loud

Our Convoy Making The Trek To Basecamp For Lunch

Our convoy making the trek to basecamp for lunch. Photo: Ford

What the Ford Bronco Everglades is all About

The Bronco lineup allows buyers to pick their level of capability, from basic to fantastically capable. The Everglades falls into that second category; it’s the most capable Bronco that Ford builds. And, it comes equipped with all the features you’ll need for confident off roading, even for first timers.

On first glance, the Everglades edition is like any other Bronco: it has comfortable seats, grab handles to help you hoist yourself in, all weather floor mats, and the Bronco dashboard that reminds me of a tackle box: its solid, blocky design incorporates everything you need for your adventure, from cup holders and USB ports to media and climate controls. 

It seems just like any other Bronco on paved roads, too; it’s comfortable if a bit noisy due to the removable roof and door panels–which I could have taken off for this test drive but with mosquitoes the size of crows, decided not to.

Underneath it all, the Everglades edition adds all the things that you’d need to make it capable enough to scare your passengers or for off road trail planners to really challenge you.

These include: 

  • A winch with 10K lbs. capacity
  • Marine grade interior with washable seats and floor drains
  • Snorkel air intake that keeps water, dust, mud and other dangerous things out of your engine
  • Skid plates
  • Off road tires
  • Lower rock rails that protect the sides and frame of the Bronco from damage
  • Roof rails for carrying cargo or perhaps, a roof top tent
  • Removable roof and door panels 

One thing you might add is a forward facing camera. The Bronco Everglades does not have this feature. At first I felt that I really missed it; I like to see where my wheels are. But now, I’m divided: without the camera I was forced to learn where the corners of the car are and the position of my tires. I didn’t miss a rock, a turn or a corner all day. Even though I’d really like to have the camera, without it I felt even more accomplished.

And in the Everglades edition, a lot more hoooooo-leee cow.

Everyone Needs To Kick Up Some Water Every Now And Then

Everyone needs to kick up some water every now and then. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss