Rocky Mountains. Generally the first place that comes to mind while thinking about one of the longest mountain ranges in the world is the United States: Colorado, Montana or Wyoming. But this time we decided to explore a new itinerary and head to (for us) a completely unexplored country. So we soon find ourselves in Canada, waiting to pick up our car at Calgary Airport. Not a muscle car this time, but we choose a more appropriate vehicle to explore the Canadian Rockies: the new Ford Bronco.
First introduced in 1965, the Bronco was born as a compact off-road vehicle to compete against the Jeep Cj5 and Toyota Land Cruiser. Five generations were sold from 1966 until 1996, when the demand shifted for bigger SUVs with better on-road capabilities, and was replaced by the four-door Ford Expedition.
In June 2020, after almost 25 years, the sixth generation of the Bronco was unveiled. Packaged as a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler, it’s now offered in two and four door variants. Many styling elements are inspired by the original 1966 model, making it a beautiful looking off-road vehicle.
Even if we would have preferred a two-door, or the high performance “Raptor”, our Bronco is the long wheel base one, a “Big Bend” variant finished in “velocity Blue” and fitted with the 2.3 Liter in-line four cylinder engine, developing 300hp.
It’s a cloudy Monday afternoon in early September and, after crossing the tranquil city center of Calgary, we soon head out of town on Canada 1 towards Banff, which will be our first stop for the night.
The Canadian Rockies spans between the region of Alberta and British Columbia, and offers among the most incredible mountain sceneries of the planet. This specific section of the range is connected with the Icefield Parkway, rated among the best drives in the world. The 232 kms of road stretches across more than 100 ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls, dramatic rock spires, and emerald lakes set in sweeping valleys of thick forests.
Passing the busy town of Banff, a very famous tourist destination, and after a quick detour to the incredible Moraine Lake, we finally leave Canada 1 for the Alberta 93, also known as “Icefields Parkway”.
On the highway, the Bronco is impressively composed for being an off-roader. This “Big Bend”, compared to the “Wildtrak” for example, is an on-road friendly version with smaller tires and the 300 hp turbocharged engine that brings you from A to B in the most silent and efficient way. A bit of wind noise of course is to be expected from a vehicle with removable doors and roof. On windy roads the steering is pleasantly linear, confidence inspiring, with the multi link setup at the front, road imperfections are absorbed well, offering a very smooth and comfortable ride.
After reaching the first half of the itinerary, at Saskatchewan River Crossing, we decided to turn east on the David Thompson Highway. Soon we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snow capped mountains and deep forests, in search of some gravel roads to test its capabilities off the beaten path.
The Bronco’s base 4WD system is part-time with 2 Hi, 4 Hi, and 4 Lo gear mode. There are eight drive settings, which Ford labels GOAT, as “Goes Over Any Terrain”: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery, Sand, Mud, Rock Crawl and Baja. Despite the “small” tires fitted on our car, with 4WD mode on, high-speed gravel roads blasts gave way to surefooted miles with a composed and even ride, while crawling on rocks and off-camber terrain didn’t give us issues, either.
The soft top and removable doors, recalling the original Bronco Roadster, complete the “adventure” look and offer a thrilling experience, especially in wild landscapes like the ones Canada is offering us. Back on tarmac, we reconnect with the Icefield Parkway reaching the alpine town of Jasper, where this fantastic road officially ends, even though we decide to proceed a bit more north, into the even wilder Mount Robson National Park area.
After one week we’ve been able to cover 2.160 kms across some of the most vast and wild scenery we’ve ever seen. No mobile service, plenty of wild animals (even bears!), long stretches of road, forests, lakes and glaciers are the few elements that makes this road-trip something that cannot be missed.
The 2022 Ford Bronco has been a great Escape car. Definitely not a luxury SUV offering the many bells and whistles that other 4x4s do and its off-road ability matches the rugged looks, while acceptable on the engine side, next time we’ll definitely go for the 400 horsepower “Raptor” version! See you again soon, Canada!