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Now you know: Why Bronco didn’t get a folding windshield

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The four-door 2021 Ford Bronco will have available removable modular roof sections – left and right front panels, a full-width center panel and a rear section. Roof panels on both two- and four-door models can be easily removed by unlocking the latches from the interior to provide the largest overall open-top view in its class to take in the sunshine or to gaze at the stars at night. (Image courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)

You’d have to be living under a rock not to know the 2021 Ford Bronco is taking aim at the Jeep Wrangler.

We’d like to call it a friendly rivalry of sorts, and with Bronco being the first major direct competitor to the Wrangler, there’s sure to be some snark and tit-for-tat play on social media.

Take this tweet over the weekend from Mike Levine, Ford North America product communications manager. Pay particular attention to the year of the Ford Pilot Model GP-No. 1. That’s a year before the iconic Willys, from which the modern-day Jeep was born, entered the scene in 1941.

And if you look at our spec-to-spec comparison between Bronco and Wrangler, the wild pony pretty much toes the line on all the off-road clearances and capabilities, while upping the water fording game and being a bit bigger.

Ford even managed to take the door-removal game up a notch with attaching the side mirrors to the A-pillar and creating a storage space for the doors so you don’t have to leave them chained to a tree on the side of path or in your garage.

So, why would Ford ignore the iconic folding windshield for Bronco?

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with the windshield folded down. (Image courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

It didn’t. According to Ford Authority, this was almost a thing.

But in an interview with Paul Wraith, the Bronco chief designer, the publication learned it was about making tradeoffs. Ford wanted an open-air experience, but it also wanted the vehicle to be safe.

“We looked at that. In the original vehicle, you could do that,” Wraith told Ford Authority. “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.”

So, you get airbags in the roof construction surrounding the Bronco and a structure that can presumably withstand a rollover.

The bottom line on the Bronco windshield

Is the non-folding Bronco windshield going to be a dealbreaker for off-road enthusiasts? Probably not, but it is certainly the one thing that will set the Jeep Wrangler apart from Bronco as the rivalry moves full steam ahead when the new off-roader hits the streets in early 2021.

Related posts:

2021 Ford Bronco: 6 Most Important Things To Know

Can 2021 Ford Bronco win over two-time Jeep Wrangler owner?

Ford Bronco vs. Jeep Wrangler by the specs

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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  1. Brandon October 12, 2020

    I think it’s a good trade-off especially considering you get that full open roof on the Bronco. I never see anyone using the fold down windshield on the jeep on road or off road. It doesn’t help that Jeep developed a reputation on forums that if you fold the windshield down, it will never seal right again. I would be too worried about breaking the windshield.

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      Jill Ciminillo October 13, 2020

      I had always wondered about the seal! While the fold-down windshield always seemed like a cool idea, you’re right, I’ve never seen anyone do it. My bigger question here is: Did Ford just call Jeep Wrangler unsafe because of the fold-down windshield?!?

      1. Brandon October 13, 2020

        Shots fired from Ford! I think Jeep can get away with a folding windshield and maintain safety because they have a roof cross member at the B pillar. Bronco went with the fully open roof so all of the structural support has to come from the front and back of the vehicle. I would still say either of these are way safer than any convertible car!


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