Even though I saw the lead 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades successfully dip into the water with waves splashing up over the rear bumper, it was a bit of a jolt when the vehicle I was driving started its own descent. The sound of water sloshing against the door panels echoed in the silent cabin, and I held my breath expecting the engine to stop or the vehicle to get stuck at any moment.
But it didn’t.
The beefy 35-inch mud-terrain tires gripped the slippery rocks at the bottom of the 3-foot-deep water and steadily trod through the murky wash.
But this special-edition Bronco was just as adept at climbing rocky inclines and slooshing through 6-inches of mud.
For more than 6 hours we meticulously made our way around Drummond Island, Michigan, and a veritable off-road playground filled with obstacles of every kind. And the Ford Bronco Everglades managed most of them with ease.
When it didn’t, it was winch time! And that made getting out of an obstacle just as fun as getting through it.
So, let’s take a closer look at what makes the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades so special, and how it actually drives.
During the press preview, Ford execs said Bronco customers were looking for something “ready made” to go deep into the wild with confidence. So, the Bronco Everglades is built off the rugged Black Diamond trim and includes the Sasquatch package. So, before adding any extra goodies, this vehicle is equipped with a rear locking differential, seven selectable G.O.A.T. modes (Goes Over All Terrain), 35-inch mud-terrain tires, a high-clearance suspension and high-clearance fender flares as well as 4.7 final drive ratio with electronic-locking front and rear axle.
On top of that, the Everglades model adds standard factory-installed features such as a Zeon 10-S Warn winch kit, snorkel, modular bumper, wash-out flooring, marine grade seats and roof rack crossbars.
This means the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades can Ford up to 36.4 inches of water and has a ground clearance of 11.7 inches. Other off-road specs include:
When Ford said the Bronco Everglades was built to go even further into the wild – and get out of it, they weren’t kidding. The route we traversed through Drummond Island had a lot of deep water and thick mud with some rocky terrain thrown in.
And, what I want to say is this: That Warn winch came in handy.
While I managed to stay unstuck, a couple of my cohorts weren’t so lucky. Or, they were very, very lucky, depending on your perspective, because they got to play with the winch.
In one instance we had two of the lead Broncos get stuck in a mud pit at essentially the same time. So, the first vehicle got out, attached the winch to a tree outside of the pit and slowly but steadily pulled itself out of the muck. Then the second vehicle did the same with some amount of sideways sliding before the vehicle righted itself and inched forward.
To me, who had never seen a winch used before, it was an impressive display of independence.
In lieu of another vehicle in the area, you can use a tree or other solid stationary (unbreakable) object to attach a recovery strap to, then use the hand controls from the safety of your driver’s set to pull you out.
Even with – or perhaps especially because of – the winch usage, the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades performed superbly off road.
And thank goodness the driver’s seat was comfy because I spent more than 6 hours there during our day-long drive.
The vast majority of our day was spent off-road, but we did have a few brief snippets of on-road driving to form some quick opinions. First, the meaty tires do produce a fair bit of noise on pavement that pops into the cabin – especially once you start traveling faster than 55 mph. But that’s to be expected in a vehicle like this.
However, the one disappointing thing I noticed was the wind noise from the hard-top roof panels was also loud. I had noted this when I’d driven a hard-top Bronco previously on a road trip, and I’d hoped this was a one-off, pre-production type situation. But here it was again on another model. To be fair, I don’t think it was as bad as that original test, but it was still loud enough that I wouldn’t feel good about being able to understand someone on the other end of a hands-free call piped through the audio system.
Outside of the noise issues, though, the Everglades is surprisingly comfy and easy to manage on road – even for extremely long durations.
The 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades is equipped with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost, not 2.7-liter engine under investigation for failure. It delivers 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty fast to merge onto the highway or do some passing maneuvers.
The Everglades model is equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission (no manual transmission available) and comes standard as a 4X4, four-door model with the hard top.
The price of the Everglades model rings in at $54,595, and that’s pretty-much your all-in pricing. While you can get the exclusive Desert Sand paint for $295 and various accessories (like tube doors for $1,810), the only package option is for towing capability, which will tack on an extra $595. So even if you added some accessories, the special paint and the upgraded audio with navigation, you wouldn’t top $60k.
The Everglades model is showing up in dealers this summer, but if you want this vehicle and aren’t already in the Bronco reservation queue, you’ll likely have to wait until the 2023 model year. Initial models will be offered to those who already placed a reservation.
The 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades is an attractively packaged and interesting lifestyle vehicle. It’s built to take you through some seriously deep, dirty and rocky trails, and when you come back covered in mud – inside and out – it’ll be easy to clean.
In general, I like the go-anywhere attitude it projects, and I love the confidence it inspires.
Editor’s note: Driving impressions in this “First Drive” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Ford Motor Co. covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.