2022 Bronco

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2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Tue Jul 12, 2022 1:16 pm

While I do love me a good Jeep, those of you that really know me are well aware that my true allegiance has always been with the Bronco. I was raised in the back seat of a 1977 that was bought brand new and is still in the family, and I've owned a few of my own over the years as well. Good/bad/otherwise, when my kids entered the picture the overall automotive landscape had changed drastically from when I was in diapers, and the bottom line is the romantic memories of my younger days in the back of a Bronco are easily eclipsed with something as simple as a second set of doors, ala the Jeep Cherokee XJ and the Jeep JKU/JLU platforms. Not to mention things like fuel injection, power windows, and an HVAC system that functions so well you actually know when it's running :roll: Don't get me wrong at any level, I absolutely LOVE the original Broncos, but there are simply better options for families with small kids these days, and I said goodbye to my last Bronco back in the spring of 2011 :cry:

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Fast forward a decade and some change, and the minions can not only fend for themselves, one of them is actually driving his own junk around so I don't even need to worry about a seat for him anymore, and the other one is a scant few months away from the same in her own right. The days of hauling kids and sports gear and their friends all over the place are fading quickly, and mamma got an itch to ditch the soccer-mom Explorer that had served her well over the last several years, in favor of something a little more sporty. We both enjoy our (OK, it's hers) JLU-R and as good of a driver as it is, it's still a Jeep and any conversation regarding it's driving characteristics is immediately qualified with "...it drives great, for a Jeep...". Enter the 2022 Bronco 8)

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We spec'd out a Badlands edition for it's locking differentials and disconnectable swaybar (strikingly similar to a Rubicon), but shied away from the Sasquatch package due to the horrible looking fender flares and paper-thin Goodyear tires that come with it. Since this is mamma's daily, we opted for all manner of electronic gizmo and gadgetry, but paid close attention to those options that delay factory orders, like the towing package, and left those czek boxes blank. We also stayed away from the larger 2.7L engine based upon the rumored issues with dropping valves, and instead opted for the plucky 2.3L with a measly 300hp/325tq. What we ended up with is a completely civilized off-roader; the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing. This thing drives like her Explorer, perhaps even better, has room for people and cargo should the need for either/both ever arise, and has magical buttons and switches to allow for prodigious use at elevation. Now if I could just get the keys :?
Last edited by tobyw on Tue Jul 12, 2022 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Tue Jul 12, 2022 1:42 pm

Make no mistake, the new Bronco is not intended to take the place of the JLU-R. To be blunt, it can't. They are simply different tools for different purposes, although they do have enough similar characteristics to blur the lines a little.

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As much as I'd love to wheel the dickens out of it, and understanding it's limitations in comparison to the JLU-R, the fact remains this is her daily and I just can't. Therefore, at least for the immediate future, use will be limited to what I can get away with. And the same goes for modifications; they will be limited to cosmetics and creature comforts, with minor emphasis on functionality or any legitimate wheeling improvements.

With that said, we do plan to use it for camping trips and some light WABDRing, and that means towing our new micro camper. Since we wanted our Bronco this decade and therefore didn't get the factory tow package, a quick trip to the interweb netted some Father's Day savings on a Curt receiver hitch, Curt taillight wiring harness, and the rest of the wiring goodies necessary to make it all work for our needs. To the shop!!

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A quick mockup install of the hitch to play with the placement of the trailer wiring:

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The hot glue gun was used to marry the wiring plug bracket to the receiver:

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Then the whole mess was installt for good:

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Now the fun part; actually wiring this up. Step one was to destroy the interior in search of the OEM trailer wiring harness, which is very inconveniently located behind the plastic panel on the driver-rear fenderwell. This requires full disassembly of the rear interior:

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Once I had eyes on the OEM trailer wiring harness, I probed the connectors for the desired connection points, and went about the business of making the necessary connections and routing the new wiring as cleanly as possible to get things working:

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Lucky for me, everything went back together without issue and no one would ever be the wiser that I was in there. The trailer wiring functions perfectly, including the charge circuit that runs the Bluetooth trailer brake controller (best widget EVER). The first towing test is coming up in a few weekends, and I'm sure the begnnings of a laundry list of future modifications will be drafted during that very trip :thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...


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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Mon Aug 22, 2022 9:43 am

With gravel road duty pending, it was time to address one of the downsides of any vehicle with BFG A/T tires; throwing the aforementioned gravel. I don't know what it is about BFG A/T's, but they are some of the best gravel grabbers/throwers in the business, and have been for every generation that I've run. Anyhow, not wanting to have the lower body panels look like a czecker board, and recognizing that stiff plastic splash guards do not typically mix well with the rigors of off-road travel, I set about making some proper mud flaps fit. A quick mockup revealed the factory rocker guards interfered just slightly with the natural curvature of the fender opening and prevented the mud flap from sitting how I wanted it, so a quick trim was in order:

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With that done, I took a look at mounting options and realized that the OEM crash bar would make a perfect foundation:

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With a couple holes and a couple bolts, the flap was hanging in place:

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And to secure the upper portion and help ensure it holds shape with the curvature of the fender opening, I used a small self-tapper and a 1" nylon spacer to attach the upper portion to the fender flare itself:

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With that handled, I wanted to spruce up the aforementioned crash bars a bit, because the big wide-mouth opening just hanging out in space isn't particularly attractive to me. With a couple of plastic plugs installt, it looks significantly better to in my opinion:

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Next up was some auxiliary lighting. One of the Bronco's design oversights is the lack of OEM fog lights when you order the modular steel front bumper. To remedy this situation, I picked up some inexpensive LED pod lights and a nice little pre-fabricated bracket. A couple of bolts and some wiring attached to the factory upfitter switches, and voila!

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The final item in this little round of upgrades was to address another glaring oversight in the Bronco, and that is the lack of rear cupholders... That's right, there are NO rear cupholders in the 4-door Bronco unless you upgrade ($2k :shock: ) to the power leather seat package. Had we known that was the only way to get rear seat cupholders, we may have considered it but we didn't realize this oversight until we took delivery, so learn from our mistakes kids... Anyhow, the aftermarket has finally addressed this massive flaw and provides a solution that is striking similar to what comes standard in a JLU:

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Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...


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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby Lurch » Mon Aug 22, 2022 5:33 pm

Looking good :thu2: I still want to order one.
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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Tue Aug 23, 2022 12:19 pm

Lurch wrote:Looking good :thu2: I still want to order one.

Do it!! I am completely infatuated with it right now, definitely still in the honeymoon phase... Every time I get the opportunity to drive it, I'm just enamored. That being said, it's been 100% road miles to this point, so I cannot yet comment on any sort of wheeling prowess, and to be honest I have my suspicions that there are things I will not like it about it on the trail. But for the vast majority of the time, I'm betting it'll be just dandy :smile:
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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Sat Sep 03, 2022 4:21 am

It's been long enough... Time to PHAB :lol2

I wanted to add juuuuuuust a little something to the otherwise standard-issue front bumper, but I didn't want it to stick out like a sore thumb or get in the way of the forward facing camera or collision avoidance system bits. With some 1.5"x0.065" tube and a few minutes of mockup, a plan was hatched:

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While I had the tube kinker and hot glue gun out, I decided to whip up some shopping cart sliders using some 1.5"x0.120" tube:

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I may not get away with much more, but I'm going to keep trying to butter her up and let me take it wheeling one of these days :thu:
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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Wed Sep 21, 2022 6:51 am

Not exactly a modification, but removing the top adds a factor, even in the driveway 8)

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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Mon Oct 17, 2022 8:41 am

Well... in true Wilcox fashion, things have changed. After roughly 3 months and about 2,500 miles of daily driving mamma decided that a Bronco is not her ideal vehicle. Between the entry/egress challenges and the road noise (both relative compared to a sedan or mommy SUV), she wanted to get back into something more civilized. We spent a few hours shopping the local lots and settled on a brand new Grand Cherokee L:

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What does this mean for the fleet? Well, something had to go... The choices were the truck, the JLU-R, or the new Bronco. We've tried to live without a truck a few times, never ends well, so it was allowed to stay. Down to the JLU-R vs. the Bronco :? After much debate, it was decided that Oscar the JLU-R had been fun over the past 4-1/2 years, but we've been there, done that, and made the T-shirt so why not give something new a try?! The Bronco STAYS, and it's MINE (OK, it's still hers :oops: )!

Let's get this party started :thu:
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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Mon Oct 17, 2022 9:19 am

In an effort to replicate and improve the game of Tetris that was the adventure gear load-out in the JLU-R, for the Bronco I took a markedly similar approach with a few tweaks thanks in part to the Bronco's slightly larger cargo area dimensions. These increased specs allowed for a very specific improvement that had always been troublesome in the JLU-R, and that is the inclusion of a storage spot for a proper table. Having struggled for years with an aluminum roll-up table, which worked reasonably well, we can now put those barbaric days behind us :lol:

I started with a slab of OSB that will anchor down to the Bronco's factory floor tie-down locations:

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From there, I added a shelf to house the aforementioned trail table:

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Then I mocked up the upper deck to ensure I had adequate head space for the storage bins:

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Out came the hot glue gun to build some brackets to hang the cargo basket from the Bronco body, utilizing the factory mounting points intended for the soft top brackets:

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Here they are installed (passenger side) and supporting the cargo basket:

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Waiting on the paint to dry before I can get a "final" picture...

Next up was addressing the need to air up after running trails. While I loved the Warn Powerplant that had an integrated air compressor, the fact of the matter was that it was simply massive and just wouldn't physically fit anywhere on the Bronco. Having a few years of experience now with the ARB twin air compressor in other rigs, it seemed to be a logical option here. I popped the hood, popped a cold one, and stared at things for a few minutes:

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After trying a few locations and orientations, I settled upon this little space behind the air filter and above whatever that magic box is hanging off the inner fender:

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Using my CAD (Cardboard Aided Design) skills, I whipped out a template to mount the compressor:

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Out came the plasma cutter to replicate the template onto some 10ga steel:

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After a little more mockup and fab work, the mount was complete and ready for paint:

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The ARB twin looks right at home, and is ready for wiring and plumbing. Thanks to the Ford Upfitter switches, even I can wire it with little fear of an electrical fire, and the plumbing should be equally idiot proof once I settle on a final location for the air chuck.

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Next up will be some suspension enhancements and some form of self-recovery device :thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...


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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Sun Oct 23, 2022 5:23 am

Here is the cargo area in it's "finished" form, with the table storage in full plumage:

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Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...


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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Sun Oct 23, 2022 5:53 am

Ford missed the mark on a few key elements for the Bronco, and one of those is winch mounting. Similar to the Wrangler, the factory modular steel bumper is anything but "winch ready" and to make matters worse on the Bronco, FoMoCo decided to slap the module for the adaptive cruise control smack dab where a guy might want to try and mount a winch :? The aftermarket is starting to develop a few bumpers and other mounting solutions that ultimately relocate the cruise module, but between the Bronco Tax and the PITA factor of relocating that module, I'm headed down a different path... Plus I'm a pharmer and I just like to tinker :lol2

Having had great luck with off-brand winches on the last two builds, and watching the reviews over the years on the newest line of winches from our friends at Harbor Freight, I decided to save a few sheckles and give the APEX Badland 12k a shot for the Bronco. It was not lost on me that the Bronco is a Badlands edition and is about to receive a Badland winch :roll: Anyhoodles, given my plan of attack here there were a couple of key features that actually made this a good choice: it's highly water resistant and it has a wireless remote, both of which have nothing but glowing reviews everywhere you can find them. So... fingers crossed I don't get burnt trying to pinch a penny or seven. Let's get it mounted:

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The first order of business was to remove the factory skid plate and see what's what in the cavity that exists between it and the lower suspension crossmember:

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Next was a little test fit, the first of many:

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I have no idea what these little protruding brackets are for, but they gotta go:

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With that area cleared out and tidied back up, it was time for another test fit:

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Now we're getting somewhere!! On to the easy part - actually fabricating a winch cradle. Some carving of an off-the-shelf winch plate (I was low on 8" box tube to make my own :oops: ), a few slices and dices of 3/16" plate to make some bracketry, and voila:

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And time for paint:

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I need to run to the store and grab a couple pieces of metric hardware that I didn't have in my bolt bin, and then I can get the winch mounted for the last time. Once that is done I'll work on skidplate modifications to accept the hawse fairlead and then we should have this one czeked off the list :thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...


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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Sun Oct 23, 2022 3:44 pm

Finished up the fairlead mount between football games today:

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Time for some field testing 8)
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Re: 2022 Bronco

Postby tobyw » Sat Oct 29, 2022 5:12 am

With snow season looming, having the Bronco setup for moderate gravel road exploration simply won't cut it. Time for a little added elevation and flotation in the form of 2-1/2" of suspension lift and 37" BFG KO2 tires 8)

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Upon reassembly of the front end, I made a deviation from the kit instructions and instead of reusing the factory pressed in studs to attach the coilover assembly to the lower A-arm, I pressed the studs out and replaced them with 1/2" Grade 8 bolts. Why? Well, the factory studs have the threads facing down and leave not only the locking nut but a few threads exposed below the A-arm, and it just seemed to be begging to get hung up or otherwise snag on trail bits:

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The rear setup is much simpler, just a basic 5-link with similar coilovers. Didn't even take but one picture:

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With the lift installed, it was time to drop it back down, torque the suspension joints with it sitting on it's own weight, and set the alignment. Here's a quick before/after:

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After a little test drive and a double czek of the alignment, it was finally time for the payoff:

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Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...


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