The 2021 Ford Bronco Gets a 10-Speed Gift From the Explorer – Is This a Good Thing?

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The 2021 Ford Bronco will begin arriving at dealerships relatively soon. As a result, we’re learning more about exactly which components this off-roading SUV will feature. While we’ve generally known what lives under the Bronco’s hood, dealerships now have exact part numbers, giving us greater insight.

This latest report comes from Bronco 6G via The Drive. A forum member claiming to have access to Ford’s part registry claims the Bronco will get the 10R60 transmission out of the Explorer, not the 10R80 found in the Ranger. The big story here is that the 10R80 is a more robust unit typically used in trucks, unlike the crossover-friendly 10R60.

The 2021 Ford Bronco gets the 10-speed auto out of the Explorer

2021 Ford Bronco | Ford

While this 2021 Ford Bronco transmission choice might seem insignificant, fans on the Bronco 6G forum seem quite upset. As stated above, the main reason seems to be that the Explorer’s transmission isn’t quite as robust as the one found in Ford’s trucks. Given the Bronco’s status as an off-roading vehicle, ultra-reliable components are the name of the game.

At this point, it is worth stating that no one has done any comprehensive off-road testing to compare these transmissions. As a result, the outrage might be completely unwarranted. Additionally, Ford never stated the Bronco would get the 10R80. As The Drive points out, none of the SUV’s promotional material mentions it.

According to The Drive, there are a couple of potential upsides to this decision. The main one being that the Explorer’s transmission is reportedly smoother on the road. Additionally, the truck-based transmission could add unnecessary weight. While we’ll have to wait to hear from Ford for an official reason, chances are there is a valid one.

Is the Explorer’s 10-speed transmission reliable?

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Since some 2021 Ford Bronco fans seem to be upset at this transmission choice, let’s see if it’s truly something to worry about. The current-generation Explorer has featured the 10R60 since it arrived back in 2019 as a 2020 model.

According to Consumer Reports, the 2020 Ford Explorer suffered from some serious transmission issues. In fact, the family SUV received awful ratings in both the transmission major and minor categories. Overall, the Explorer received very poor reliability ratings for the 2020 model year.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see how the Bronco performs once it finally lands at dealerships. Given the amount of development that has gone into this specific model, perhaps the 10R60 housed within will feature unique components or software to toughen it up.

Does the 2021 Ford Bronco offer a manual transmission?

If you’re concerned about the automatic transmission in the 2021 Ford Bronco, there is one easy way out. That’s because this off-roading SUV offers up a seven-speed manual transmission.

However, you won’t be able to get it paired up to the larger 2.7-liter turbocharged engine. Instead, you can only have it with the smaller 2.3-liter turbocharged engine. As a result, going with the cheaper powertrain options might result in greater long-term and off-roading reliability.

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